CHESHIRE – Preparatory work has already begun on a new city-owned access road for the 300-unit apartment complex at Stone Bridge Crossing in north Cheshire, although aspects of the project are still awaiting final approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
On October 24, several people connected with the massive commercial and residential development spoke about the project. The outcome of the public hearing – which no member of the public participated in – was that a future date for a final decision on the requested waivers was set, likely November 14. The public hearing is due to end on November 28.
Among the concerns expressed by the Commission during the hearing were the possible location of school bus pickups and other traffic impacts. It was recommended that the proponents consult with the school district’s chief operating officer, Vincent Masciana, regarding student transportation. Bill Finger, a partner at Eastpointe LLC, the developer of the project, was also on hand to answer questions and stressed that the issue of security is treated with the utmost importance in all of his projects.
Darin Overton, engineer at SLR consulting, provided an overview of the sitemap features. Part of the site, he said, has already been partially disturbed during the construction of I-691. However, “most of the Ten Mile River buffer zone will be preserved as part of the project,” Overton said.
He said most of the vegetation in the development area is currently invasive fall olive, “to be cleared as part of the development.” A mature pine stand would be left largely intact. There is both a conservation restriction of approximately 13.8 acres and an open space of 21.6 acres preserved, on the 107-acre development, Overton explained.
The site will likely include not only residential uses, but also a gas station, a 150-room hotel and other commercial uses, Overton added.
Architect Ray Sullivan of Sullivan Architectural Group, located in Milford, went into more detail about the design features of the buildings. The project envisions nine separate buildings containing a mix of apartment offerings, ranging from approximately 600 square foot studio apartments to 1,425 square foot three-bedroom apartments. The site will also have a 7,000 square foot “club house” with amenities such as a music room, swimming pool, fitness center and golf simulator. The clubhouse would be the first building built, by Overton.
Don Poland, a social scientist with consultancy Goman+York, East Hartford, presented on “municipal, fiscal and economic impacts”. He argued that Cheshire, with a median age of 46.2 (compared to 40.6 in the rest of the state and 38.3 in the US), needs to recognize a “shift” in building large single-family homes to multi-family homes. unit residential developments close to commercial activities.
Poland also offered its analysis of the likely future impact of development on school enrolment. He said: “Enrollment in (Cheshire) schools was down until this past year.” This is due to demographic factors, including Connecticut’s low birth rate and “anemic” population growth. “In 1960s America the fertility rate was about 3.6 (children per woman), today it’s 1.52 in Connecticut. (It’s) a huge drop in the number of children we have.
In his analysis, Cheshire’s “owner-occupied, single-family, detached, high-bedroom” housing stock is the one that “generates the most school-aged children.” New development, on the other hand, includes studios and one-bedroom apartments, which statistically are less likely to increase listings.
According to Poland’s calculations, only 69 total public school enrollments are “likely” in Cheshire schools as a result of this scheme. But “enrollment is not the main driver of education costs,” he argued.
In terms of tax impact, Poland forecasts a net positive impact for Cheshire Books, with approximately $1.3 million in property taxes entering the system from the units. Of course, this is offset by other factors, such as projected new enrollments and the cost of government services, leaving a gain of approximately $764,000. Poland suggested that the commercial aspect of development would also be a net benefit, with more money spent locally.