Commissioners reject zone amendment for lower Main Street

Last Thursday’s Planning and Zoning meeting was a victory for residents living off lower Main Street and a defeat, and potential obstacle, for some property owners and developers close to Trumbull’s Main Street border with Bridgeport.

Attorney John Fallon, representing Main Street property owner Anand Holdings, proposed a zoning amendment that would revise size limitations in the town’s Professional Office Overlay Zone. If passed, the zoning amendment would have cleared the way for an application to build an 8,530-square-foot, two-story medical office building at two combined 4950 and 5010 Main Street lots. The amendment would have also allowed for similar development in all Trumbull’s professional office overlay zone, which includes Main Street, White Plains Road and a portion of Church Hill Road.

The professional overlay zone was created to preserve the basic structure of homes but allow professional uses that still have a residential character. Under the regulation, the combined Main Street lots could not have a professional structure larger than 2,900 square feet, which keeps in line with nearby structure size. However, the same property could have a home as large as 13,000 square feet.

After comments from both supporters of the project and everal residents against it, the amendment failed.

All commissioners voted against the change, except Commissioner Fred Garrity Jr., who abstained.

“Between my six years on the ZBA and my five years here, this is one of the hardest things to come across our desk,” Garrity said before the vote. “I’m in agreement that the regulation should be modified or changed. I wish we could look ahead 10 years and see what Westfield has planned. I don’t think they spent millions to not have some major redevelopment down the road.”

Garrity’s efforts to find a compromise on an amendment change was not supported by fellow commissioners.

“I understand both sides, but that doesn’t mean this amendment is the answer,” Commissioner David Preusch said.

Director of Planning Jamie Bratt was also against the amendment, saying it was “inappropriate” and didn’t protect the residential character the zone was set up to preserve.

Dino Tetu, owner of 5036 and 5038 Main Street, supported the amendment change, saying residents were up in arms when Home Depot was going to open on Monroe Turnpike but now there likely isn’t a resident who hasn’t shopped there.

“Progression is inevitable in any successful town,” Tetu said. “That area of Main Street will get developed at some point.”

John Pappas, a resident of Botsford Place, who has helped organize resident outcry against the development and amendment, said the application “disregarded the spirit” of the zone.

“If you are a property owner south of the Merritt Parkway or on White Plains Road, this is sending a message that you can put lots together and build 8,530-square-foot building.”

Pappas argued the proposed medical building was larger than five houses in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Democrat Tony Silber was also against the amendment, though he said the owner, Anand Holdings, had been innovative in its approach to the application.

“Our fundamental mission is to protect the character of the town,” Silber said.

Commissioner Richard Deecken felt the amendment wasn’t fully complete and he didn’t want to make adjustments on the fly.

“There are fundamental holes to it,” Deecken said.

Commissioners agreed they would look at the Professional Office Overlay Zone regulations in the future.