Trumbull mall apartment plan moves ahead
TRUMBULL — The Planning & Zoning Commission has cleared the way for a 260-unit apartment complex on lower Main Street, approving plans for the site by a 3-2 vote.
The three commissioners voting in favor, Chairman Fred Garrity, Tony Silber and Tony D’Aquila, agreed with town staff that the proposal met the requirements established in 2018 and helped secure the future of the town’s largest taxpayer. Commissioners Larry LaConte and Anthony Chory voted against the project during Thursday’s meeting.
“Whether the project should or should not be allowed was decided almost two years ago when the language was passed that allowed it,” Garrity said at the beginning of the commission’s 45-minute deliberations. “We are here to measure the application against the regulations as they currently exist in this town.”
The proposed complex, named The Residences at Main, is for a mix of one- and two-bedroom market rate apartments and will include amenities like a pool, gym and clubhouse. They are expected to draw high-income younger professionals and empty-nesters looking to remain in the area while downsizing from their single-family homes. The developers have referred to their potential tenants as “renters of choice.”
The commission’s approval was contingent on 11 conditions, including the extension of pedestrian walkways from the LA Fitness to the main entrance road, allowing school buses and senior shuttles to enter the complex, installing 24-hour call boxes at the entrance gates and mandatory pre-construction meetings with town planners and engineers to finalize details.
“You have the final say,” Garrity told Town Planner Rob Librandi.
During the commission’s deliberations, Chory reiterated his concern from previous meetings about school buses stopping on Main Street to pick up and drop off students who live in the complex.
“If the number of students boarding is large, that can stop traffic for an extended time,” he said.
Chory also expressed his dissatisfaction with efforts to blend the complex into the surrounding area, calling it “totally out of character with Main Street.”
D’Aquila, who had initially shared Chory’s view on buses, said the developer’s agreement to allow bus entry onto the property had satisfied him.
“I am now convinced,” he said. “I no longer have those concerns.”
Silber also had some lingering concerns, specifically the lack of long-range planning in the proposal.
“As the Planning and Zoning Commission, that makes you uncomfortable,” he said emphasizing the word “planning.”
He also agreed with Garrity that the projected $900,000 net increase in property tax revenue from the development was likely optimistic, but the final total would still be a net positive.
Developers, after meeting with emergency responders, said there would be no increased expenses as a result of the project since police already patrol the area and the volunteer fire companies already owned the equipment needed to respond to the complex.
Garrity said he was dubious of the zero cost claim.
“It’s very simple. There are X number of people, there are X number of calls,” he said. “You’re (adding) the apartment complex, so you’re increasing the population. That’s just simple math.”
On the other hand, the plans meet the 2018 regulation for a mixed-use design district, Silber said.
“We kind of have to proceed with that in mind,” he said.
The proposal increases Trumbull’s housing diversity, and its location between the mall and the Merritt Parkway ensured minimal impact, he said.
“The location can’t be better,” Silber said. “It’s right on the parkway. It really doesn’t disturb our interior neighborhoods at all.”
Garrity agreed with many of the concerns, but like Silber, thought the benefits outweighed the drawbacks.
“I haven’t seen a perfect plan in all the years we’ve been here,” he said.
He said he was pleased that a longstanding concern of his, the narrow two-lane left turn from the Ring Road to the main entrance road, was finally being addressed.
“After many, many years of being on the Zoning Board of Appeals and now Planning and Zoning, trying to get the esplanade at the bottom shortened so it widens the two-lane turn from the Ring Road on the way out, it’s finally happening,” he said.