Applicant Returns To P&Z With South Main Street Apartment Plans

Newtown Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) reviewed three new applications regarding an apartment building at 35 South Main Street during its March 3 meeting. The property being discussed is located across the street from Modzelewski’s Towing & Recovery Inc and next to Chintz-N-Prints.

The previous applications for the proposal were unanimously denied by the P&Z on January 20 after months of deliberation that included hearing from multiple residents about their array of concerns. The old proposal was for a three-story building with 13 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom, and 2 three-bedroom apartments.

According to the agenda, the current applications submitted by Robert Sherwood were:

Application 22.02 for a Text Amendment to the Zoning Regulations of the Town of Newtown, for a new South Main Village Design District (SMVDD12) located at 35 South Main Street, so as to permit the construction of a residential building for apartments as described in documents submitted to the Land Use Agency dated received February 11, 2022, and revisions as received.

Application 22.03 for a Zone Change, for a property located at 35 South Main Street, so as to change the Zone from R-1/2 to South Main Village Design District #12 (SMVDD12) as detailed in documents submitted to the Land Use Agency February 11, 2022, and revisions as received.

Application 22.04 for a Site Development Plan, for a property located at 35 South Main Street, so as to permit apartments located within the South Main Village Design District, as demonstrated on a set of plans titled, “Town Walk Residences” dated February 8, 2022, and documents submitted to the Land Use Agency dated received February 11, 2022, and revisions as received.

Sherwood represented himself during the meeting and identified himself as a landscape architect. “The residential structure would be limited to two stories,” he explained.

Sherwood shared that the parcel is 1.6 acres, and currently has a house and garage on the property. He is proposing to do a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments in a new building.

“There would be eight two-bedroom apartments and 12 one-bedroom apartments,” Sherwood said.

The 20 apartment units would be developed with 46 parking spaces — two parking spaces for every unit and six guest parking spots.

“Those parking spots would be open air spots, as well we are proposing two six-bay garages. So, 12 cars in the garage and 34 open air spaces just in the parking lot,” Sherwood said. “The site plan has one central access drive off Route 25/South Main Street.”

Parking would be in the back of the building. Entrances would be located in the back of the building and the front by the sidewalk.

There is an emergency access drive currently proposed on Borough Lane that will have a solid, locked gate.

Sherwood said he is pleased with the sightline, that he submitted a traffic study, and that he will update the plans to use native plants, per the new town guidelines he received from Land Use Agency Deputy Director of Planning Rob Sibley.

Sherwood also said that the water drainage has been designed to be directed to the system on South Main Street.

P&Z member Roy Meadows asked, “Will the garage bays be assigned? Sherwood answered that they would be for rent and assigned.

Meadows also inquired about the emergency driveway and noted his concerns with the current proposal of it.

“In the name of safety, I was wondering if that can be another exit from the complex, so that those people who want to go to Fairfield Hills or downtown can go that way and don’t have to go down Route 25,” he said.

Sherwood replied that it can be done, but that he was looking to limit the disruption on Borough Lane. P&Z Chair Dennis Bloom asked if he met with the architectural design committee, and Sherwood said they would be meeting on March 9.

Sherwood also shared that the developer plans to purchase the 35 South Main Street property and 16 Borough Lane property together to complete this project. Currently, 16 Borough Lane has a residential home, which Sherwood indicated to be a “tear down.”

Public Participation

The first to speak during the public participation portion was Newtown resident and former P&Z chair Don Mitchell.

He said, “It seems to me that what has been said so far is good for analyzing a site plan application. I haven’t heard anything really about the regulations concerning special design development district. We are treating this as an old piece of land when you got a structure on it and the special development district, especially the South Village Main Developing District, talks about trying to preserve historic or significant structures that really lend themselves to what the Borough/Town is looking for.”

Mitchell added that in his opinion when driving through the South Main district, there are less than half a dozen buildings “worth preserving that are in line with the historic” New England feel. In terms of what is available to save, he says this property’s building is probably the best option to save.

Newtown resident Doug Nelson inquired about the outdoor lighting.

Newtown resident Blanca Sheehan asked about the height of the rooftop and cupola.

Sheehan then added, “Please, please, please don’t allow the tenants to go onto Borough to Queen Street. Queen Street is already a nightmare. The buses line up in front of the driveways and the public cannot get out … It’s already a nightmare. I beg you please, do not.”

Newtown resident Thomas Wallace noted he had a problem with the traffic study looking into “peak hours,” and not showing the full traffic impact in the day. He is in the area around 6 to 6:30 pm and “it is still a nightmare.”

Wallace urged the commission to look more into the traffic study and the proposal’s impact.

To Be Continued

Sibley encouraged the P&Z to keep the public hearing open to give the applicant the opportunity to respond.

Sherwood did say that “traffic is a concern” and that he does not have the intention of putting traffic onto Borough Lane.

When discussing the existing structure, Sherwood said he does not see the house to be of historical significance.

Bloom mentioned how he has been inside the house on the property. He reported that the frame has dropped, it is rotted, and that Newtown Historical Society is not interested in the building.

“It’s in bad shape,” Bloom said.

The commission decided to keep the public hearing open to the next meeting.

The next regularly scheduled public P&Z meeting is on Thursday, March 17, at 7 pm.

For more information about Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission and its upcoming meetings, visit newtown-ct.gov/planning-zoning-commission.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at [email protected]

Robert Sherwood returned to the Planning & Zoning Commission, on March 3, to present three new applications and site plan, pictured, regarding a proposed two-story apartment building at 35 South Main Street. His previous applications for the property were for a three-story apartment building, which was denied unanimously by the commission in January 2022.

The proposed two-story residential structure at 35 South Main Street, pictured here in its site plan, would include eight two-bedroom apartments and 12 one-bedroom apartments.

There would be a total of 46 parking spaces at the proposed apartment building, 34 of which would be open air spaces and the remaining 12 would be in two six-bay garages, pictured here in the site plan.