Commission reviews proposal on taller buildings for Route 7

The Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on Feb. 11 to consider whether to allow the building height in the Design Retail Business Zone on Route 7 to be increased from two stories to three.
The application filed by 200 Danbury Road, LLC, would allow buildings to be constructed 40 feet tall, more than the current 35 feet allowed. It would also allow buildings to be constructed up to 48 feet to the highest ridge for buildings with sloped roofs. No vote was made at the commission’s meeting.
Craig Flaherty — principal, president, and senior engineer at Redniss & Mead — said the criteria for when these allowances can be requested are properties with frontage on Route 7, with suitable access to sewer and water along with some bulk requirements.
“This will only be applicable to the larger, bulkier lots,” Flaherty said.
The minimum lot size would be two acres along with a minimum lot frontage and width of 200 feet on Route 7, he added.
“If you meet those standards, you could request the height and floor areas discussed, three stories and 40 feet,” Flaherty said. This would also include a maximum floor area ratio from 0.25 to 0.35, he added. This translates into a maximum of 30,492 square feet for a building on two acres.
Flaherty said the application is consistent with the current Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) in a number of ways, including redevelopment and revitalization of commercial centers in areas of mixed land uses with existing or planned infrastructure.
“The applicability here is, of course, the infrastructure applies to sewer and water,” Flaherty said.
Flaherty said the regulation amendment could allow for more measured development, more mixed use as well as more apartments, retails or offices. This could all help to attract more young professionals, he said.
“These are some of the things the telephone survey talked about providing more options for,” he added, referring to the survey conducted for the commission for the POCD.
Planning and Zoning Vice Chairman Rick Tomasetti said, as a community, they are asking applicants to help with the master planning because it hasn’t been done.
“It’s at our discretion to change our regulations,” he said. “This isn’t something I look to and say ‘wow, this is really going to move us forward.’”
He added that he wanted a consistent streetscape and wanted to know how changing the regulation could preserve historic structures as well as have mixed uses on the site.
“The intent and spirit of real mixed use is creating streetscapes, creating places, creating a village or a destination,” Tomasetti said.
Commission member Chris Pagliaro said the creativity available to the applicant could set the bar for a lot of what’s happening on Route 7. He added the application currently doesn’t suffice.
“This is an opportunity to improve this community,” Paglario said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission’s next meeting is on Feb. 25.