On Tuesday, the Planning and Zoning Commission considered two non-binding advance requests for housing developments under Connecticut’s Affordable Housing Act 8-30g.
One was for an 86-unit, 5-story building at 5 Brookridge, which is in single-family area R20 near Greenwich High School and at the busy intersection of Indian Field / Stanwich and Hwy 1. Could have access to the city’s sewers.
The second application was for a 27-unit, 3-1 / 2-story apartment building on the corner of 111 Mill Street and 9 South Water Street, across from Macelleria in Byram.
The existing building is home to the Byram Smoke Shop, which would reopen on the ground floor of the new building and be joined by a gym next door. Parking would be provided for commercial use, but not for the 27 units.
The commission had concerns about traffic and parking.
The application relies on the William Street municipal land behind Rosine’s for parking the 27 residential units.
“We believe this is an important issue for any resident of the building in terms of safety, that they can lead a normal life,” said P&Z President Margarita Alban.
“You are not a TOD (transit oriented) development,” she added. “You are not close enough to Port Chester station.”
The applicant should obtain approval from the Board of Selectmen to use the William Street parking lot.
“This parking lot, in our experience, is always very crowded, especially on weekends,” said Alban.
Ms. Alban noted that the Applicant’s proposal did not include on-site ADA parking for residents.
“It’s a major problem. You must, by law, provide that. Parking is a security problem.
Mr O’Donnell said he was open to rethinking the parking flow, eventually eliminating the proposed retail and replacing it with “some form of freestanding building that would have parking and eliminate the smoking room and gymnasium. .
“It would turn up the volume,” he said. “But we could move the upper floors back to reduce the loom.”
“All we can do is solve the problems that go beyond the need for affordable housing,” said Alban. “I would suggest you look at a 6-110 (city’s moderate-income ‘workforce’ housing regulation).
Commissioner Nick Macri said the use of municipal land would require municipal improvement.
“My experience is that the land is used constantly, night by neighbors, during the day and in the evening by retail businesses and restaurants,” he said. “Losing any existing public parking would be a huge blow to the local economy and put even more stress on neighbors and residents of Byram.”
He noted that the request did not indicate how many affordable units would be included in the project, in exchange for permission to build.
“What’s the advantage for Greenwich, for Byram, in terms of affordable housing? ” He asked. “What are the potential benefits and negative impacts. It’s almost an idea to sit down with a blank page and brainstorm different ideas. Even reach out to the neighborhood, the BNA, and see what they think.
Macri noted that Byram already had two smoke shops. “What else does Byram really need?” What would Byram gain from having?
“Parking is a huge problem,” Macri added. “Discussions with other candidates in the region brought this to our attention. “
There is a charge for parking in Byram.
Parking was the main issue at the P&Z meeting on December 21, 2021 when the Macelleria Italian Steakhouse arrived with a request for a terrace for alfresco dining for 75 clients.
Near the opposite corner, Famous Greek cuisine came with a request for 20 outdoor seats in 2019. Because the site was running out of parking spaces, they struck a deal to offer valet parking where restaurant patrons walk down Armonk Street and turn into the parking lot behind FGK . The owners of FGK also own the land with a pharmacy across the street. When the pharmacy is closed, the restaurant uses this parking lot for overflow.
Al Shehadi, chairman of the BNA’s land use committee, said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Casey O’Donnell, contacted him earlier today, which he appreciated.
However, he said, “the headlines which I don’t think would surprise anyone is that the BNA is strongly opposed to this project.”
Mr Shehadi said he understood 111 Mill St to be a lot side building, which “activates the street” rather than one with a parking lot in front, but said the building was extremely oversized and needed of a “major overhaul”.
“We think this is completely out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood. It is 10 feet taller and a full story than what is allowed. It is five times the FAR that is authorized ”, he declared. “We would like to see something smaller. ”
Mr Shehadi said BNA would prefer retail use extended to the corner of South Water Street.
“We want to see more foot traffic in Byram, and having shops downstairs is one of the best ways to do that,” he said.
“Parking is the elephant in the room,” Shehadi said. “We have disillusioned the owner of any assumption that the generous inhabitants of Byram will be happy to park for free on already overcrowded public lots in nearby streets.”
“If I were the developer of this project, I would wonder if I would be able to bring them to market affordably or at market price without parking,” Mr. Shehadi said. “You won’t be able to rent apartments unless they’re noticeably below the market if someone has to park four or five blocks away, or do what they’re doing in New York, where they shoot. in circles for half an hour to find a space. “
Mr Shehadi said the applicant’s aerial photo from 2019 showed the municipal land 90% full. He said there was no possibility of accommodating the cars of 27 residential units.
Additionally, he said the aerial photo was not up to date.
“Byram now has two new restaurants, a new dance studio and hopefully a new pizzeria. So there is additional traffic due to these new uses, ”said Matt Popp, a landscape architect who lives nearby.
Mr. Popp suggested that the site be located further back from the busy intersection of Mill Street and Water Street.
“I don’t think you can have dead end parking on the site. If the parking lot is full, someone comes in and they can’t turn around or back down onto the sidewalk again to join the road.
The president of the P&Z committee, Margarita Alban, agreed.
“Getting out of the parking lot would be difficult,” she said.
She said that by reviewing and recently approving an 8-30g with a retail store on the ground floor, the business was not part of the 8-30g and was not exempt from providing parking.
“As we interpret laws 8-30g, they only apply to residential development. Therefore, commercial space in an 8-30g must fully comply with our zoning regulations. This is the precedent that we have set. You don’t get any sort of bonus on the ads.
Joe Kantorski of BNA said his organization cares about the quality of life in Byram.
“We will let Mr. O’Donnell and his client know exactly where we are at,” he said.
The commission was not in favor of development using the municipal land on William Street, but Alban noted that they did not have authority over the use of the city’s parking lot.
This should be approved by the board of directors.
The commission had a few suggestions for the applicant, including other types of below-market housing, such as moderate or “labor-intensive” housing.
Alban asked Mr. O’Donnell to continue speaking to Ms. DeLuca and Mr. Larow for their comments.
She also encouraged O’Donnell and his client to meet with the BNA.
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