The Ridge at Monroe: Could a bonus room become a third bedroom?

MONROE, CT — The Ridge at Monroe plans to offer 25 single-family units of age 55-and-older housing at 1271 Monroe Turnpike. All units will have two-bedrooms, a great room with a fireplace, a patio and a two-car-garage.

Another feature is a multipurpose room on the second floor, which is popular with buyers who want to accommodate visits from their grandchildren, according to Mark Nuzzolo, of The Ridge Builders LLC.

Nineteen of the units have already been approved and construction of phase one is underway. The builder now has a Planning and Zoning Commission application to add six more units. The 14.9-acre site is next door to High Meadows condominiums.

The multipurpose room sparked debate among some commissioners during a hearing Thursday night, because Commissioner Leon Ambrosey expressed concern that residents can convert the space into a third bedroom.

“The age restricted rules don’t allow that,” Nuzzolo said, adding nonresidents can stay at a home for a maximum of three months at a time.

The commission asked Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathleen Gallagher to draft a resolution of approval for members to discuss and vote on at a future meeting. The developer also has an application before the Inland Wetlands Commission, which will vote on a resolution of approval at its next meeting.

Jason Edwards, of J. Edwards & Associates, an engineering and surveying firm hired by the applicant, said the health code does not allow a third bedroom, because a maximum of 50 bedrooms are allowed on the site.

“These can all turn into three bedrooms,” Ambrosey said.

“Not legally,” Edwards replied.

Commissioner Ryan Condon said people could turn an office, a family room or a garage into a bedroom, but noted that the multipurpose room is open.

“It’s an open room,” Edwards said later in the hearing. “It has no door.”

Vice Chairman Bruno Maini said a homeowner could pay someone $300 to put up a door.

“We haven’t had that experience,” Nuzollo said of other housing communities he’s been involved with. “These are older folks. We haven’t had a ‘Golden Girls’ with three people living together,” he added, referring to the popular TV show. “We have had grandkids for a day or night.”

Ambrosey pointed out that there are a lot of wetlands on the property. “If the septic system starts to fail, it turns into a big issue. I’m not saying everyone will do that, but they can,” he said of adding a third bedroom. “Someone has the ability to do it. I have a problem with that.”

“How do you stop someone from breaking the law?” Condon asked. “Their design doesn’t say bedroom.”

Maini said there are housing units with bonus rooms, which Realtors use as a selling point, telling potential buyers they could turn it into another bedroom.

“I agree with you,” Nuzzolo said, “but the association has rules. Every year, they have to document who’s living there. One of the values of this product is to provide that space for the grandchildren, because customers are demanding room for their grandchildren. If we don’t get this, they’d use the basement. We don’t want that.”

Nuzzolo said many of the buyers of age-restricted housing are moving from out-of-state to be closer to their families.

Ambrosey questioned an association’s ability to enforce the rule.

Two bedrooms

Though all of the units will have two bedrooms, Nuzzolo said that does not mean both rooms will be used to accommodate more than two residents. He said many couples choose to convert the second bedroom into another office, while some use it for a hospital bed when one of them is ill, and some couples sleep in separate bedrooms when one snores.

He and his business partner, A.J. Grasso, are among the same group of builders who won a HOBI Award for Best Age Restricted Community in Connecticut from the Connecticut Home Building Industry. They are also with the same group building Cutlers Farm Crossing in town.

Lighting for The Ridge will be Dark Sky compliant, meaning the light will shine down and be contained to the property, and Edwards said there is a significant buffer along the perimeter and the wetlands. The site plan includes a sidewalk leading to one location for residents’ mailboxes.

Maini asked how accessible the site is for fire trucks and ambulances. Edwards said they believe a fire truck will have room, adding the plan was reviewed with the fire marshal.

Maini also asked where a fire hydrant would be and was told the decision would be made by the fire marshal and the water company.

Commissioner Robert Westlund asked about monitoring of the septic systems, because systems have failed in the past. Nuzzolo said a homeowners association will be formed to maintain the property.

Nicole Lupo, a commission alternate, asked if any blasting will be done. “I wouldn’t rule it out,” Edwards said, “but it shouldn’t be major.”

Gallagher said there have been issues with blasting from other projects, and that town officials are asking developers to be better about sending letters to notify neighboring residents when blasting will be done.

“We would just appreciate notifying the neighbors a little more,” she said.

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

2 Comments

  1. I believe septic systems are designed for the number of bedrooms. If rooms not intended to be used as bedrooms are used for that purpose or if the units are overcrowded for any reason, the septic system will start to fail. That will create all sorts of problems for the site as well as surrounding land especially wet lands. Since it will be a limited shared system that could could make it uninhabitable. And the property would be essentially unmarketable until a new/revised system is installed. It seems that strict adherence to occupant restrictions is critical for this type of development. As the number of these types of developments continues to grow, how does the town plan to fund this extra monitoring workload?

  2. A MLS multiple listing service number 170614672 was opened for 2 Ripton Ridge Monroe CT. It should have been opened for Lot 2 at the Ridge. It looks like they have corrected the address but not the map. So agents and buyers will be directed to my house until it is fixed!

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