P&Z: New commissioners look at subdivision, Jersey Mike's
Three new commissioners were introduced at Monday’s meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Franklin Wong and Joe Fiteni were introduced as new commissioners on Monday, Dec. 9, while Sally Poundstone was introduced as the new vice chairwoman of the commission.
Chris Hulse will be the new chairman.
The first item on the commission’s agenda was a possible subdivision of a two-plus acre lot at the corner of Church Street and Route 107. The owners hope to subdivide the property, which has two houses on it, into two residential lots.
When Colleen and Scott Fawcett purchased the property, which is at 27 Redding Road, they intended to renovate both of the historical homes on the land. The homes had fallen into disrepair after a foreclosure some time earlier.
Because of the difficulties involved in financing land with two less-than-perfect homes, the Fawcetts asked the commission for the right to divide the land into two distinct building lots, even though one falls below the area’s one-acre lot requirement.
Kevin O’Brien, a land use consultant with Wilton Country Homes and representative for the Fawcetts, told the commission the couple plans to renovate both homes, but needs the financial ability to do so.
“The two houses were in total disrepair when purchased by the Fawcetts,” he said. “They were taken over by the bank, and the pipes were frozen. But the Fawcetts purchased the property and are living there as we speak. We are trying to preserve two historic homes.”
The two-acre lot sits in the Georgetown Historic District, which has one-acre zoning requirements. If the land were to be divided, the new lots would be approximately 1.79 acres, and .59 acres due to setback and regular shape requirements.
Citing the financial challenge of renovating two historic homes, Mr. O’Brien said the Fawcetts’ unusual application falls under a “hardship” application, where a zoning commission has the right to waive provisions of its regulations when a landowner can prove the regulations represent a significant hardship on their land ownership rights.
Town Planner Bob Nerney asked the commission to look at the application from a historical preservation outlook.
“What you see is this situation. What exists there today may not exist going forward. This should be looked at as a virtue,” he said.
In order to issue an opinion on the idea, Mr. Nerney said, the planning and zoning department “typically” looks to see whether the undersized lot could possibly be used for any other type of Wilton building.
“We would look at it as, Is it possible — in terms of carrying capacity — to accommodate a typical prototype building as you would see in Wilton on this lot?”
Members of the commission expressed interest in helping to keep the historic buildings in use in Wilton, but also expressed concerns about land coverage, and notification of the Redding town government, as the property is across the street from the town line.
The issue was continued until the commission’s Jan. 13 meeting.
The Jersey Mike’s sub sandwich chain made its first official appearance in front of the Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday to present its case for a special permit to be issued so the franchise may open a “restaurant/fast food establishment” at 35-39 Danbury Road.
The restaurant will have a 29-seat dining room, and estimates that approximately 60% of the store’s total orders will be “to go.”
The primary problem faced by the Jersey Mike’s franchise application, according to attorney Doug Bayer, is the necessity of a waiver of the regulation requiring a standard number of parking spaces for the building.
“The building is going from a retail to a food use, so there is different required parking,” Mr. Bayer said. “We will require an additional eight spaces, for a total waiver of 18 spaces.”
Though some commissioners expressed concern over the methods used by the restaurant to calculate its “peak” parking lot usage on the site, the owner of 35-39 Danbury Road, Leland Wilson, said his occupants have never complained about parking availability at the shopping center.
The public hearing regarding the Jersey Mike’s application remained open, and will continue on Jan. 13.