The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a Special Exception at their Wednesday evening meeting for an adaptive historic re-use to turn a residence on Broad Street into an insurance office.
The application was from Guido Bafumi, a Middletown native who has operated Bafumi Insurance company from offices above Thai gardens since 1993. Bafumi is interested in purchasing and renovating a house built in 1900 as a single family residence. This house, adjacent to the Christian Science church on Broad Street, is currently zoned as a three-family residence.
Attorney Michael Dowley told the commissioners that this application was a "can't miss opportunity," adding, "It will give us a chance to bring the building back to where it was." Bafumi, whose clients include many businesses and individuals in the Downtown Business District, said he wanted to make the Broad Street house a flagship building, restoring it as close as possible to the original condition, "I feel I am a part of Middletown and I would like to stay a part of Middletown for many years to come."
The only member of the public to speak was Catherine Johnson, who stepped down from the commission for this application. She noted that the property abuts hers, and expressed her strong support for the application. She lobbied for the preservation of an old brick garage in the back of the property, which she said has value not only for its beauty and its history, but also for the buffer it creates between the parking and commerce of the building on Broad Street, and the residential properties on College Street. She also pointed out the importance of the garage for any possible future re-use of the building as a residence, saying, "A garage is so precious."
The commissioners all agreed with Johnson, and praised her proposal to provide sufficient parking without removal of the garage. Bafumi said he would also love to save the garage, and agreed to work with Planning Department staff to see if that could be done while satisfying the concerns of traffic safety.
The commission unanimously approved the application, with the suggestions of Johnson, and the condition that all changes to the building be approved by the Design Review and Preservation Board.
Under the Commission Affairs section of the meeting, Commissioner Johnson proposed that the commissioners hold a workshop at their September 23rd meeting, to create a set of principles to guide the revisions to the Plan of Conservation and Development, which is a document which provides the framework for all zoning decisions in the City. Johnson said, "These principles will set the framework for our plan."