Trumbull P&Z approves Moorefield development

A petition against development at the former Moorefield Farm property on Huntington Tpke. has generated criticism from town attorney Jim Nugent.

A petition against development at the former Moorefield Farm property on Huntington Tpke. has generated criticism from town attorney Jim Nugent.

Contributed / Sotheby's

Despite a campaign by a dozen residents to halt the decision, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a modified version of a plan to build age-restricted single-family housing on the former Moorefield Farm property on Huntington Tpke.

The commission approved the construction of 10 homes, down from the 11 requested by the development group.

The change was made because of an interpretation of how much buildable acreage the property contained after subtracting for construction of an access road.

Acting Chairman Tony Silber said the commission had worked hard on behalf of residents in the area, who had opposed increasing the housing density at the site, but the commission’s options were limited.

“When an application complies with the regulations that are on the books, we’re kind of constrained,” Silber said.

Representatives of the development group and neighborhood opponents could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

The application was not a zoning change but a request to build a multi-unit age-restricted project in a housing zone that allows two age-restricted houses per acre on properties larger than five acres, with access from a state highway. The 5.97-acre parcel in question is located at 2157 Huntington Tpke.

In the commission’s review, Silber said he considered water management as a primary issue.

“We only get to do this once,” he said. “I wanted to make sure the stormwater plan was going to work as designed.”

As part of the commission’s approval, Silber said the site would be subject to weekly review by the town’s engineering staff to make sure water runoff from the site was properly controlled.

After the commissions reduced the number of homes on the site to 10, they approved the application 4-0-1 with Silber, David Preusch, Donald Scinto and Anthony Chory voting to approve and Anthony D’Aquila abstaining.

D’Aquila said he had supported the changes the commission made, but felt he did not have enough information to make a final decision.

“I asked for copies (of comments from the public hearing) two months ago, and just received them yesterday,” he said. “I wasn’t able to review the information and get clarification on any questions I had before the vote.”

The project had been opposed by a group of about a dozen residents who lobbied town officials to block it, and who had circulated an online petition titled, “Stop unethical development and zoning changes in Trumbull.” As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had 563 signers.

Among other things, the group alleged preferential treatment for the project because of Matthew Reale’s status as an investor in the project. Reale is an elected member of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, which has no oversight in the project.

Members of the group had made numerous comments on the petition page and on social media, including claims of conflicts of interest, ethics violations and circumvention of proper procedures.

“Follow the money and the insiders,” group members wrote,

The accusations, Town Attorney James Nugent said, are false.

“I empathize with people seeking to protect their neighborhoods,” he wrote. “But an emotional investment must never extend to false accusations, attacking municipal staff, defaming town volunteers and tarnishing our processes.”