Thursday, October 24, 2013

Planning and Zoning Commission, October 23

The Planning and Zoning Commission had four public hearings scheduled last night, but three were either withdrawn or tabled.  The Commission approved a special exception and site plan review for an expansion and sports field improvements at Xavier High. It also approved a modest increase in the size, and mandated improvements in the lighting, of a large parking lot behind High Street.

Withdrawn, tabled, and tabled.
A proposal for a 3-lot subdivision on East Street, that generated considerable concern about traffic and water flow, was withdrawn. City Planner Bill Warner told the Commission that the developer will later submit a new proposal. Commissioner Dan Russo said he hoped that the developer would address the concerns raised in the original proposal. Warner assured him that the developer had paid attention.

A proposal for a 15-lot subdivision at Country Club Road and Massa Tom Road was tabled until the December 11th meeting. Warner said that the developer was still working to address the issues raised by Inland Wetlands.

A zoning code text amendment on "Sale or Dispensation of any form of medical marijuana" was tabled until the December 11th meeting.

Xavier expansion

Xavier sought approval to construct a new building to house music, arts, and chemistry labs, to put in an artificial turf sports field with lights, and re-grade its baseball field. 

The Xavier High presentation, led by Chris Smith, Xavier class of 1976, and attorney with Shapiro and Goodwin,  was extremely thorough and thoughtful. It included a detailed light study to demonstrate that the field lighting would not reach neighboring properties, information on the environmental safety of this artificial turf, and discussion of water runoff.

A neighboring property owner, Shawn Graves, expressed concern about the water run-off onto his property. He complained that previous work done by Xavier had caused one of his fields to be unusable. Graves seemed satisfied that the work now proposed would not cause such problems for his land.

The Xavier application was approved unanimously.

Liberty Bank parking lot
The Liberty bank headquarters is an office building set back from High Street, behind about 6 houses.  Liberty applied for a site plan modification, to increase the number of parking spaces from 133 to 148 spaces.

Joe Wren told the Commission that based on the size of the building, the current zoning code would require 160 spaces, and that the bank needed more parking. The extra spaces would come from a small increase in the lot, and a re-orientation of the parking stalls. The increased surface area would be done entirely with pavers that are pervious to water, and two trees would be planted in the lot, so there would actually be a decrease in impervious surface area. Several light fixtures would be moved or re-mounted.

Commissioner Molly Salafia raised concerns about the existing light fixtures, which she said cast bright light into the neighboring homes.  Commissioner Russo suggested quite forcefully that the bank add shielding so that light would no longer stray off of the lot. The bank agreed, and added that it would also take steps to have the lights turned off after the last employee left, around 7PM.

Commissioner Beth Emery suggested that racks be installed for employees or visitors who arrived by bicycle, and the bank readily agreed.

The Commission approved the plan unanimously, with the light improvements and bicycle rack included.
Author's Disclaimer: I am providing information about P&Z meetings, as I have done since 2008, on a volunteer basis for The Eye. I am now a candidate for the Planning and Zoning Commission, and I will continue to cover P&Z until the election in November, because my motivation as a volunteer and one of my goals as a candidate is to increase community understanding of and involvement in land use decisions. The Eye welcomes coverage of P&Z (and other municipal meetings) by any correspondent, including all candidates for office; I would be thrilled to divest myself of The Middletown Eye's P&Z "beat".


BobbyZim said...

It's good to see the Commission paying attention to the growing problem of light pollution.

Anonymous said...

Does P&Z have the NU/CL&P facility on Randolph Rd. on its radar? They are closing the facility sometime in 2014. Has NU informed the city of its plans for the property?