Hearing for taller buildings on Route 7 continued

The Planning and Zoning Commission on April 8 continued its public hearing on a proposal 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 looks to increase the maximum building height and maximum floor area ratio for properties with frontage on Route 7. Properties would have to be served by sewer and water, have a minimum of two acres and a minimum lot frontage and width of 200 feet when located in the Design Retail Business Zone.

The applicant’s attorney J. Casey Healy said the LLC owns property at 198 and 200 Danbury Road. Healy also provided a revised site plan that includes the relocation of the Raymond-Morehouse House, c. 1835-40 , a historic structure on the property.

“It’s been proposed for relocation to the north-westerly corner of the property,” Healy said.

The house currently lies on the south-westerly corner and the commission asked if the house was moved closer to the road in the site plan. 

Developer Patrick Downend said there is a lot of opportunities to do some landscaping to create a sense of place.

“The architecture is different than what we started with,” he said. “We were also pleased to be able to save Raymond house.”

Downend said the architecture presented in the site plan is more complementary and consistent with the buildings in the area.

Planning and Zoning Vice Chairman Rick Tomasetti said the proposal has moved in a positive direction. However, Tomasetti said he was unclear how the regulations would change to incentivize historic preservation.

“You’re talking about a regulatory text change,” he said. “I need to understand how this helps you in terms of what you’re going to propose from a regulation perspective.”

He also asked if more of a sense of place was given in the site plan.

“What we’ve asked you to do is demonstrate to us how your text change is going to help other people,” Tomasetti said.

Vicky Mavis, a Ridgefield Road resident, said she was encouraged by seeing the historic structure being incorporated.

“This is an opportunity to see the connectivity discussed in the POCD actually implemented,” Mavis said.

However, she said the building around the historic structure in the site plan struck her as uninspired.

“We’re talking about the preservation of a historic structure being a cornerstone of this development,” Mavis said.

Incorporating things like brick walkways could help to unify structures that are historic or close to each other, she added.

“If you’re guided by an inspired vision you’ll pick up these elements that could be worked into the fabrication of the development,” Mavis said.

The commission’s next meeting is on April 22 at 7:15 p.m. in Town Hall Annex room B.