MONROE, CT — Attorney Christopher Russo presented a petition to amend a regulation, opening the door to an age restricted housing community on Stanley Road.
Among the proposed changes to the Age Restricted Residence District regulation is reducing the minimum lot size from 10 to 7 acres, while reducing the allowable density for the smaller parcels, from no more than five units per-gross-acre to no more than 3.5 units.
He said this would limit the number of units permitted on parcels of less-than-10-acres to a maximum of 24 units.
During a Monroe Planning and Zoning Commission hearing last Thursday, Russo assured commissioners they would still be able to control where ARRDs are allowed in town, because those wishing to build on similar parcels elsewhere would need additional amendments.
“It’s just allowing this on Stanley Road, which we think is a perfect location for it,” said Russo.
Russo, an attorney with Russo & Rizio LLC, is representing his client, Eugene Leone, who is identified as a “contract purchaser” on the petition, which lists 188 Stanley Road, a 7.2 acre parcel, as a site related to the amendment.
Russo called the reduction in the minimum lot size from 10 to 7 acres a “modest” revision.
Housing statistics show Monroe has a greater percentage of senior citizens who paid off their mortgages, but shoulder the burden of paying property taxes and rising housing costs compared to other Fairfield County communities, according to Russo, adding inflation only exacerbated this problem.
The ARR reduces this burden by providing alternative housing options for the elderly, while allowing the town to work collaboratively with developers for this type of housing for those age 55-and-older in appropriate areas, Russo said, adding this is outlined in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD).
“We’re asking for a modest relaxation of the standards to be able to apply to you, not to approve a district tonight,” Russo said.
Tailored to one site
Ryan Condon, the commission secretary, asked how many seven acre lots are on Stanley Road.
Russo said the YMCA property and 188 Stanley Road would be meet the proposed minimum lot size right away, while it is also possible to cobble smaller lots together.
“I agree with you that it is something our POCD is looking for and that it’s something needed in town,” Condon said. “Why does it just say on Stanley Road?”
Russo said, right now, he believes Stanley Road is an appropriate place for it.
Commissioner Robert Westlund suggested going for a variance, rather than amending the regulation. “It seems like a lot of amendments for one application that we would have to contend with,” he said. “I would have to look at this further, because you kind of lost me.”
“I did follow you well, but are you asking us to change the entire regulation or just Stanley Road?” Nicole Lupo, a commission alternate filling in for Vice Chairman Bruno Maini, asked.
Russo said the proposal would add Stanley Road and other changes would be needed to make it townwide.
“I think the problem is changing the amendment for one specific property,” Lupo said. “The ARRs I’ve seen are not affordable for residents in Monroe. At the moment, a variance is something I would be more interested in right now.”
Condon wondered if the proposal could be revised not to identify Stanley Road, though he conceded that would pull in more properties around town.
Russo suggested keeping the hearing open so he and his client can look at the proposal and revisit the language.
There were technical difficulties that night. Planning and Zoning Administrator Rick Schultz told commissioners having a screen up at a future meeting would allow them to compare the existing regulation and proposed amendments side-by-side.
Other proposed amendments
Age Restricted Residence Districts are currently allowed in residential and farming zones on single contiguous lots with frontage on a major arterial, minor arterial or collector road identified in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
Russo proposed amending that with “or Stanley Road if the land is located within 2,000 feet of the intersection of two state highways “as may be amended from time to time.”
During the hearing he said two major highways are Route 59, near the Easton town line, and Route 25. Russo said there would be no significant impact on Monroe’s traffic.
Another amendment would restrict detached age restricted units to no more than 1,000 feet of living space and to two bedrooms or less, rather than three, to better ensure there are no school aged children living there.
Currently, two access driveways are required when there are 40 parking spaces or more. Russo said this could have the unintended consequence of incentivizing developers to provide the bare minimum of off-street parking to avoid two driveways.
A proposed amendment includes not counting parking spaces inside or directly behind a garage into the total count of spaces.
“A single access drive can accommodate the residents of an ARR District,” Russo wrote in the narrative for the amendment.
All respectful comments with the commenter’s first and last name are welcome.