Development hearings coming up

Trumbull residents may have noticed some new development in town, and there are proposals for more currently pending before town boards and commissions. First Selectman Vicki Tesoro on Tuesday invited residents to participate in the process, either in person at one of several meetings on the proposals, or through submitted statements.

“I want residents to understand what is being proposed, how the development process works, where residents can have impact, and what I am doing to protect our high quality of life in Trumbull,” Tesoro said. [Full text here].

The Westfield mall has proposed a zoning change that would allow for expanded use of the property, including multi-family residential housing. Malls throughout the country are reinventing themselves to adapt to changing market conditions. Tesoro said the town should work with the mall as much as possible, pointing out that Westfield is the town’s largest taxpayer.

“Its success is a shared goal,” she said.

Residents have voiced numerous concerns about the plan, and Tesoro said Westfield officials have agreed to a continuance of the proposal to July 19, when the plan will be back in front of the Planning & Zoning Commission for a public hearing. The hearing will be kept open into August to ensure that all residents get a chance to speak on the issue.

As the Westfield proposal is before the P&Z, the industrial zones around Reservoir Avenue are also drawing interest from developers. These proposals date back to 2017, Tesoro said.

“The outgoing Herbst Administration supported a change in the zoning regulations in the Reservoir/Lindeman/Oakview area,” Tesoro said. “This change was approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission on June 21, 2017, prior to my taking office. This zone change allows for the

development of up to 600 units of multi-family housing in this industrial zone. This regulation cleared the way for the approval of 202 units of market rate apartments on Oakview Drive. This project is now under construction.”

A 10-year tax abatement for development also encouraged other developers, and there are now proposals for 128 units of senior housing on Oakview Drive and 215 market rate apartments on Reservoir Avenue, Tesoro said.

“As with the mall, we are sharing our detailed concerns regarding each proposal, seeking additional information and looking to assess and mitigate the impact on municipal services,” she said. “Both of these development proposals will be back before [Planning & Zoning] on Aug. 15. This meeting is a public hearing and I encourage all to attend and submit comments.”

The high level of interest in town is a positive, but there is such a thing as too much at once, Tesoro said. On the other hand, property owners have a right to propose development on their property, she said.

“We must remember there is a process that must be followed for every proposal,” she said. “There will be no shortcuts and no incentives have been offered to these developers. This will be an open, transparent process.”

The town has prepared a document detailing the process that development proposals must undergo. That document is available on the town website, Tesoro said comments can be directed to her office or to Town Planner Rob Librandi.

“I remain confident that by working together, negotiating in good faith, and following our well-established zoning processes, we will make the right decisions for our town,” she said. “Let me be clear: My administration will work with all parties, but we will fight for the best interests of our community as a whole.”