Zone change proposal concerns lower Main Street residents

After being defeated back in February 2014, Main Street property owner Anand Holdings is set to return in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday, June 22, to discuss a proposed zoning regulation change in the town’s Professional Office Overlay Zone (POOZ).

The meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, will determine if a developed building in the POOZ zone — White Plains Road, Church Hill Road, and lower Main Street — can join any number of lots in the district together. Currently, the town’s zoning laws limit builders to two lots.

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 — a development that has drawn the ire of at least one neighbor.

"The proposal blatantly disregards all size, scale, and residential character-related concerns addressed within the zoning regulations, the 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development, the Lower Main Street Design Study, and statements provided by various P&Z Commissioners since the POOZ was created,” said John Pappas, who lives on Botsford Place. “Additionally, the proposal ignores all of the community residents' concerns regarding negative impacts to quality of life, increased traffic, and safety issues associated with developing large medical buildings near residential neighborhoods."

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.

Under the proposed amendment change that Rahul Anand submitted on May 26, developers would be able to use an 18% floor-to-area ratio (FAR) in building structure, which allows the following:

  • If you have an acre of joined lots (1 acre=43,560 sq. ft.), then you can build a building that is 18% of the lot (FAR of 7,840 sq. ft. for one acre).

  • Specifically for the 4950/5010 Main Street lot (the lots owned by the developer that is making the proposal — it is 1.0836 acre, or 47201.616 sq. ft.), the developer will be able to build a FAR 8,496-sq.-ft. building.

  • If many lots are joined together, and say, become 2 acres, then a developer will be able to build a 15,681-sq.-ft. building. And on and on if more lots are joined together.

More than years ago, commissioners voted based on input from the community what would be appropriate for the POOZ areas to ensure that all future professional office buildings retain the size, scope and character of the surrounding residential houses in the area.

All commissioners voted against the change in February 2014, 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.”