OLD SAYBROOK — A decision on whether to approve or deny the proposed Hanford Commons mixed-used development was again postponed by the Old Saybrook Zoning Commission. The public hearing is scheduled to be continued on Wednesday, September 4.
The commission is waiting for a final report from the town engineer, as well as information on the height of the cupola on the 8-unit apartment building at 99 Lynde Street and the percent of the property that will be landscaped.
“The applicant has granted the town an extension of 65 days to the review period that is typical,” said Christina Costa, the Zoning Enforcement Officer for Old Saybrook. The delay pushes back an August 20 decision deadline for 99 Lynde Street, as well as decisions for 76 Elm Street and 96-98 Lynde Street, now scheduled for September 11.
Hanford Commons LLC has proposed two projects. Both projects are paid for entirely with private funding, one 8-unit affordable housing apartment complex at 99 Lynde Street and an application for a special exception for two mixed-use buildings at 76 Elm and 96-98 Lynde Street.
In total Hanford Commons LLC has proposed 14 apartments, space for a restaurant, office and retail. Five of the 14 units will be rented under the state 8-30g statute for affordability.
The mixed-use development is also required to provide 41 additional parking spaces. These will not be designated for any business or resident. Four of the proposed spaces are currently located in the town right of way.
At the hearing, Police Chief Michael Spera asked that those four spots be removed from the plan.
“We have no other parking like that in Old Saybrook. It’s close to an intersection where we do have accidents and I’d like not to do anything in that area,” Spera said. “These four spaces would become more of a problem than a benefit to anyone looking for parking.”
Spera, a board member of Hope Partnership, a regional non-profit with a mission to build affordable housing in shoreline towns, did not think that the loss of the four spots should derail the project.
“There is a clear need for housing in Old Saybrook. We all just saw how fast North Main Street filled up, so we know housing is needed and that this is a good project,” Spera said. “I’m a big proponent.”
But with just 37 new spots, and a possible restaurant, commission members questioned whether these spaces would be adequate.
“Well if there isn’t enough parking they could just go across the street and there’s probably hundreds of empty spots,” said David Sullivan, a traffic engineer and consultant for the Hanford Commons development proposal.
This comment was rejected by the commission and the residents of Lynde and Elm Street who filled the conference room.
“That does not fulfill the requirements for this project,” said Bob Friedmann, chair of the zoning commission.
Neighborhood resident Melissa Rapacciuoli said it was a clear invitation for visitors and tenants to park anywhere and everywhere in the neighborhood.
“People will park pretty much wherever,” she said. “I think it could create more issues with the traffic.”
The commission did not question a Hanford Commons traffic study which concluded that the development would have a minimal effect on traffic in the area.
The residential complex at 99 Lynde will have its own designated parking lot for residents only.