The Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday agreed to continue until October a public hearing for a proposed mixed-use facility on Brook Street. Several residents who attended the commission's meeting Wednesday said they were upset about the plan.
The proposed mixed-use facility, located at the rear of 663 Brook St., would have 144 family units and 5,750 square feet of office space. It would be built in a U-shape on what used to be a nursery.
According to the principal partner for the project, Pat Gorman, the plan meets the town's setback requirements, mixed-use guidelines, zoning codes and bulk standards. It also works with the plan of conservation and development, Gorman added.
“This is a well-thought plan,” Gorman said. He added the proposal would have no major impact on the homes and traffic in the area.
“It will be an improvement to the neighborhood,” said Gorman, who described the plan as a “high quality office building” with peaked roofs and nice windows.
Gorman said his records indicate that rental properties are needed in Rocky Hill and have not been built in 20 years.
“There is a hole and a need,” Gorman said.
During the public hearing, which lasted more than an hour, many of the residents who spoke were considered about the facility having multi-family housing, for which the town has no standards.
“This is not affordable housing,” Town Manager Barbara Gilbert said. If the proposal included affordable housing, the PZC would not be able to deny the proposal because Rocky Hill does not have enough affordable housing, according to state standards.
The facility would also be taller, denser and have a greater impact on the school system if it was affordable housing, Gilbert said.
Gilbert was the only speaker who supported the proposal and called “mixed-use development the way of the future.” She said the town needs to be focused on attracting “young professionals” to live in Rocky Hill and they want a “close to urban” experience with a “community” feel.
“We have to change to meet the needs of the future. It clearly meets the recommendations.”
Michael Hanratty, who owns 651 and 655 Brook St., said he is worried the proposal would impact water runoff from the site, as well as traffic and the school system.
“I have giant concerns with this property,” Hanratty said. “It does not seem like the best use of the property.”
Gorman said the proposal would actually decrease the amount of water coming off the north side of the property.
Hanratty, the owner of Firematic, which restores and refurbishes fire apparatus, said he has never had any problems with crime and often has millions of dollars worth of equipment and supplies on his property. However, he said other Firematic facilities located near apartment complexes have had issues with crime and suffer average yearly losses of $20,000.
Resident Charles Wisnioski said the decision on the proposed mixed-use facility would have “a sufficient impact” on the town. He said the proposal would have “a negative impact on adjoining commercial properties."
“If there is an uncertainty as to how something should be done, you err on the side of caution for the town. This is a Pandora’s box of mixed-use.”
Scott Hesketh, a civil engineer for F.A. Hesketh & Associates, conducted a traffic study on the proposal. According to Hesketh, there would be 1,204 cars entering and exiting the facility daily. There would be 93 trips in the morning and 182 trips in the afternoon.
Hesketh said the area around the building site would create no major impact on traffic in the area.
The Open Space and Conservation Commission for the mixed-used facility at their meeting last month. However, the commission told the developer the project must be built . The developer made the changes to the plans and the planning department, police and fire officials have reviewed them.
The PZC's next meeting will be Oct. 19 at 6:30 p.m. The public hearing will be reconvened then.