The proposed residential subdivision at 191 Brook St. appears to be on track for eventual approval, but developers R.J.D. Development, LLC have not yet cleared all the procedural hurdles necessary to have the project green-lighted.
The project's principal engineer, Jim Cassidy, presented several changes in the original site plan at an Open Space Commission hearing that were made at the behest of both the commission and the Planning and Zoning Board. He and George Logan, an environmental specialist retained by R.J.D. Development, introduced modifications aimed at protecting soil, wetlands, watercourses, wildlife habitats, and trees and other vegeation. Their updated design also provided for a designated 3.6 acre open space area around Dividend Brook.
Commissioners were impressed by many of the suggestions, but the developers failed to allay all of their concerns, including whether the development would feature a homeowners association which could assume some associated expenses, such as the cost of road maintenance in the development, transformers, and streetlight bulbs. Members also recommended that the proposed locations of the houses on some of the lots be shifted to increase the "buffer zone" between these homes and the site's wetlands, as well as the ridgeline that runs through the property.
The hearing was open to public comment, and several local residents expressed their own reservations. Krista Mariner was uncertain about the effects of the unavoidable blasting on "Rocky Hill's unique geological heritage which goes back 200 M years." Mariner requested that a geological study be performed on the underlying sandstone base in the south end of the property to determine if it contains dinosaur tracks or fossils.
Jaclyn Farnham worried about disruption to the natural ecosystem of two species: the Eastern box turtle and the Green snake. She also advocated that the town pass its own ridgeline protection ordinance, as Middlefield and other municipalities have.
The commission ultimately voted to stretch the public hearing period for 35 more days, until they meet again in November, to allow R.J.D. Development time to address their continuing concerns. The commission's deferment of action also prompted the Planning and Zoning Board to remove the item from its agenda Wednesday.
The Open Space and Conservation Commission will reopen the public hearing on the development at its meeting on Nov. 14. The Planning and Zoning Commission meets later the same day and is also expected to take further action on the matter.