Taxpayers feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered

I have attended two meetings regarding the mall and its request for rezoning that will allow them to put 290 rental units on their property. While they are billing this as mixed use, that is not what we saw at the most recent P & Z meeting. What we saw was two very clear and separate entities occupying the same property.

I understand the mall needs to “reinvent” themselves. Malls around the country are either transforming or closing. It is the nature of retail and business is business. While we want to work with the mall, we must also do what is right for Trumbull. More rentals may not be it; at least not in this form.

Thanks to the most recent zoning changes supported by the last administration, we the taxpayers, are feeling a little overwhelmed, outnumbered and exposed.

With the approval of the 202-unit complex on Oakview and two other proposed multi-unit rental properties, one of them being 55 and over, we have major concerns how these will affect the schools and other services for those that already live here, work here, own businesses here, go to school here and pay taxes here, especially when tax abatements become a part of the packages. That sounds more like a deal structured in Hartford than a deal that benefits Trumbull residents.

I am all for development. I applaud it. But there is such a thing as too much, too fast. Or, quite possibly in this case, too much.

As a local realtor, I am keenly aware of the need for more rentals. But I can also tell you, in the nine years I have been a realtor in Trumbull, not once have I had a request for a rental that does not involve children. According to the malls representatives, these rentals would produce about 38 students. Remember when Avalon said they would produce 15 students? We are currently at 153 students from that complex. A burden so high to Frenchtown we had to shift students to other schools.

Because Trumbull does not have any meaningful occupancy rules when it comes to rentals as other towns do, the worst-case scenario for these units could in fact yield hundreds of additional students. I encourage P&Z and the Health Department to establish those rules and clearly define appropriate rental occupancy immediately. While we cannot stop the flow of school age children, we may be able to mitigate it. Regardless of what school we put children in, the cost per pupil still comes out of the same pot. A cost not being fully generated by these projects.

You have heard me say many times over the years, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I ask for all these proposals to be slowed down, worst case scenarios developed, including cost and any possible expansions we may need. Many of us stay in Trumbull for its small-town feel. If we want to be overcrowded and overwhelmed, we can live elsewhere for much less.

Cindy Penkoff