Saturday, October 1 2022

Citing compliance, aesthetics, traffic and other concerns, a number of residents spoke out against the 17 Whitney Road project, including at the commission’s third and final public hearing this week into the proposed development. .

The owners of 17 Whitney Road, Judy and Frank Saunders, plan to construct a three-storey, 30-unit apartment building and related improvements to their property.

The project would transform the 1.7-acre lot – which has been used as a contractor’s yard since the Saunders bought it more than 30 years ago – into a multi-family residential space within the development overlay area oriented to Bethel Transit, or TOD.

Judy Saunders said she believed the proposed development would “fit perfectly” with the city’s TOD goals. The development would draw people to downtown Bethel, increase foot traffic for local businesses and help meet the demand for affordable housing in the area.

In addition to 30 one-bedroom apartments — all of which would be ADA-compliant, according to project manager Cristian Busnel, and at least six of which would be designated affordable under the city’s TOD regulations — the Saunders are looking to add benches and bike racks and have several thousand square feet of recreational space on site.

Despite changes made like reducing the height of the building and the fact that the development would be lower than the maximum building coverage allowed in the TOD zone, the project continued to attract criticism, with residents expressing their disapproval of the project in person. , in writing. and online.

Elgin Avenue resident Allison St. German said the three-story building would not fit in with the neighborhood, arguing the area would be “permanently altered for the worse.”

“The impact in the immediate vicinity of a structure of this size would be immediate,” she wrote in a letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Wayne Ritter, another Elgin Avenue resident, agrees, saying the proposed building is “way too big” and “just too much” for the neighborhood.

Arthur Ingram told the commission at Tuesday’s public hearing that he was against the project for “a host of reasons” – one being its potential impact on the value of his Willow Street property, which borders 17 Whitney Road.

He said it would also negatively impact his quality of life, noting concerns about noise and light pollution.

Elgin Avenue resident Cynthia McCorkindale said the project could fit the city’s TOD regulations, but a three-story apartment building on Whitney Road ‘insults the neighborhood’ and ‘just doesn’t work’ .

“You really have to consider the neighborhood,” she said. “You can develop something that’s kinder to the neighborhood. There are ways to do it that aren’t just in your face.

A public page and a private Facebook group – both called “Say ‘no’ to 17 Whitney Road” – were created last month in opposition to the proposed development. The page had at least 100 followers and the private group had more than 120 members as of Tuesday.

The Bethel Police Commission found no potential issues with traffic, but some residents said they still had questions and concerns about the impact of the development there.

Before voting to close the public hearing on Tuesday, several members of the Planning and Zoning Commission shared their thoughts on the project.

Many shared the same concern as other residents about the three-story building’s lack of conformity with the neighborhood.

Alternate commission member Doug Cuny said he liked the architectural design, but thought the building would look better elsewhere.

Although its design ‘looks much better’ than the garage currently at 17 Whitney Road, alternate commission member Linda Curtis said she thought the building would be ‘too much’ for the ‘very cramped’ neighborhood “.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Kitty Grant agreed, saying the design of the proposed structure is “absolutely beautiful” but that a three-story building in this neighborhood would be “inappropriate”.

Grant said she anticipates “a lot of talk” about the proposed development of 17 Whitney Road in the commission’s future.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for September 13 at 7 p.m.

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