Planning and Zoning efficiently took care of business at their meeting on Wednesday evening, approving most of the applications before them, without any fireworks or controversy.
Bed and Breakfast
Two proposals related to the operation of Bed and Breakfast establishments in Middletown. The first was a Zoning Code text amendment to allow Bed & Breakfasts by special exception in all zones. The original language in the proposed regulation restricted this to "historic homes", but during their discussion, Commissioners agreed to open it up to newer houses, provided that they are large houses on substantial lots. The Commissioners also amended the language to allow only two adults to stay in each room of a Bed & Breakfast. All of the commissioners seemed favorably inclined towards the amendment, but the vote was postponed until the next meeting, in order for Planning Department staff to write out the final language.
The Commission granted a Special Exception, under previously approved regulations, for a proposed Bed and Breakfast located in the James Plumb house, which is on the Middletown Historic Properties list, at the intersection of Westfield and East Streets. Lori Montazella, the applicant (at right), assured the commissioners that the semi-circular driveway would accommodate the required number of cars, and allow them to avoid backing out onto Westfield Street. Planner Bill Warner pointed out that the house was permitted to be a two-family residence, and that the Bed and Breakfast use would certainly generate less traffic and other problems than if it reverted to a two family use.
14 lots with restrictions.
A decision on the Cerritelli development off of Poplar Road was postponed at the last meeting, and Warner informed the commissioners that the developer had requested a further delay in the decision. However, as the public hearing was closed, the commissioners could by law consider no new information before making their decision, and Warner encouraged them to refuse any further delay in coming to a decision.
The commissioners voted to approve the subdivision, but only with 6 different conditions recommended by Warner. The most contentious of these conditions are the elimination of one of the lots, which was proposed to be a highly irregular shape barely above the minimum square footage required, the denial of a request to waive sidewalk construction, and the imposition of a requirement to construct sidewalks along Poplar Road to connect to sidewalks on Goodman Drive.
Commissioner Ron Borrelli expressed bewilderment that Warner proposed a Poplar Road sidewalk construction requirement just two weeks after informing the commission that the State Supreme Court had ruled that P&Z could not make such requirements. Warner pointed out that the total cost of the The Poplar Road sidewalks was only a few thousand dollars, and suggested that the developer would be unwilling to sue the city to fight that requirement. Citing concern over the traffic on Poplar, he said, "This is a matter of public safety."
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
The commissioners again failed to elect a chair. This time, Republican Les Adams was absent, and Democrat Carl Bolz was the alternate who was seated as a regular commissioner. Deborah Kleckowski, who recently switched from the Democrat to the Republican Party, was nominated and received three votes of the Republicans, and Richard Pelletier swept the four votes of the Democrats. With 5 votes needed to elect a chair, the Commission remains without one for another two weeks.