Monroe’s Special Development District regs may need a rewrite

Attorney Christopher Russo shows a conceptual plan for a commercial building with apartments at 715 Main St. during a Monroe Planning and Zoning Regulations Subcommittee meeting at Town Hall Monday evening.

MONROE, CT — Attorney Christopher Russo and his client, Hans Schuurmans of HJS Projects LLC presented a conceptual plan for a mixed use development to the Planning and Zoning Regulations Subcommittee for a commercial building at 715 Main St. with 18 apartments during a meeting at Monroe Town Hall Monday night.

The proposal represents what Planning and Zoning Commission members envisioned when they established Special Development Districts, but the way the regulation is written anything with a residential component must be built on a minimum of 15 acres. The Main Street property, which has a wood shingle commercial building on it, is 1.68 acres.

During the same meeting, Paul Richter, a co-owner of 270-274 Elm St., which includes the Chase Bank at the corner of Monroe Turnpike (Route 111) and Elm Street, and Jason Edwards of J. Edwards and Associates, an engineering and surveying firm based in Easton, wanted to discuss a conceptual plan for townhouses or condos in a multifamily development.

It also did not meet the 15 acre minimum requirement.

“We’ve been getting so many inquiries like this that we went to the town attorney,” said Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathleen Gallagher.

Town Attorney Frank Lieto’s legal opinion confirmed that anything with a residential component in an SDD must be for properties of 15 acres or more.

“That’s fair. We wrote 15 acres for a reason,” Commissioner Robert Westlund said. “If we’re cut and dry tonight it will save people some time.”

“We have to look at this as a staff and come to some kind of consensus of what we want to do,” Commissioner Leon Ambrosey said.

When the Planning and Zoning Commission first established the SDD, Westlund said commissioners wanted to “get the temperature as these developments came forward.”

“We specifically worded it to be read as the town attorney read it,” he said.

“A commercial building with housing behind it isn’t what it was meant to do,” Ambrosey said.

“It doesn’t sound like there’s much of an appetite for changing the regulation,” Chairman Michael O’Reilly said of allowing a Special Development District with housing on less than 15 acres.

During the subcommittee meeting, members agreed to take a deeper look at the language of the SDD and what members want to accomplish with it. Ambrosey said commissioners must keep in mind that any changes they make would affect similar properties throughout the town.

Gallagher said her personal preference would be to make a residential development a minimum of 15 acres for an SDD and mixed use commercial/residential developments in one building permissible on smaller properties.

She said an application would have to be within the Main Street Design District and be in compliance with Monroe’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

“I don’t have a problem on Main Street,” Ambrosey said of the proposal for 715 Main St. “I want mixed use.”

Though they favor mixed use developments, committee members — Ambrosey, Westlund, Nicole Lupo (a commission alternate) and O’Reilly — agreed they don’t want an explosion of mixed use developments along Route 25.

Westlund noted that the commission would have to be careful not to open the town up to lawsuits for approving mixed use applications on some properties and not others.

“In Monroe, we don’t want to change everything commercial to residential, but it seems like we’re being forced that way,” Westlund said.

O’Reilly said the committee will review the SDD regulation and discuss potential changes at future meetings.

All respectful comments with the commenter’s first and last name are welcome.


  1. Fifty one years ago I left Long Island to get away from the overbuilding. I specifically chose Monroe because of the 1,2,and 3 acre residential zoning and the strict commercial zoning. And it has worked very well for all these years. Now we have a flood of commercial property owners and some residential property owners who want to change all of those overbuilding controls that they agreed to when they bought their land. And they want to do it thru a committee declaration. I think it is only fair to have a town hall vote on these types of sweeping changes that have the potential of affecting all commercial and residential property owners.

  2. I agree with Bill Faller’s comments and I think the people who live here should have a say in what this town is going to be.

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