Owners of Banner Estates Resubmit Application to Zoning

EAST HADDAM — The owners of the Banner Country Club Estates have resubmitted an application for a zoning amendment change that will allow them to convert a 28,000-square-foot banquet hall into residential units. 

Co-owner Anthony Longhitano withdrew a similar application for a change to the Planned Recreational Development/Resort Zone, a floating zone, via email on Feb. 25, the same day the Planning and Zoning Commission had planned to vote on a motion to deny the application. The commission had referred the matter to counsel to craft the language of the motion to deny as a safeguard from litigation, but because of the withdrawal of the application the commission did not vote on the motion. 

The Planning and Zoning Commission will hear the new application on Sept. 8 at 7:15 p.m. at  the Municipal Office Complex. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the meeting will be limited to 25 people in person, which includes commission members, staff and the party of the applicant. There will be 10 in-person spots available for the public that can be reserved first-come-first-served by calling the Land Use office at 860-873-5031. A live YouTube link will be provided before the meeting begins. 

Anthony and Frank Longhitano, of New Rochelle, New York, who own Banner Resort Development LLC, purchased the 400-acre Banner Country Club Estates on Banner Road in 2004 for $6.15 million. The complex was approved for 86 units in the 1980s and about 70 or 80 were built in phases. In 2005, the Longhitanos received re-approval for 33 units, followed by another 53 units in 2006. They rehabbed 48 units, which are now occupied, and about 20 or 30 units sit empty and rotted. Constructed in the 1930s, the banquet hall has sat mostly empty in recent years except for a portion used as a health club. 

Residents of the complex opposed the project at the Jan. 29, Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 Planning and Zoning meetings, contending that the Longhitanos had let the buildings and infrastructure deteriorate. 

If it had been approved, the Longhitano’s previous request for an amendment change would have allowed buildings exceeding 6,000 square feet to contain more than four units if the buildings were constructed prior to 1973, the year the floating zone was established. The new amendment does not specify square footage but keeps the stipulation that the buildings existed in 1973. 

By statute, the commission will have 65 days to make a decision on the application.

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