TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION
Special Meeting #1470
December 19, 2005
The Meeting was called to order at 6:35 P. M. by Chairman Guiliano.
ESTABLISHMENT OF QUORUM:
Two Regular Members (Guiliano and Saunders) and one Alternate Member (Ouellette) were present. Regular Members Gowdy and Rodrigue, and Alternate Members Kehoe and Tyler were absent. Also present were Town Planner Laurie Whitten and Glen Chalder, AICP, Principal of Planimetrics.
WORKSHOP – Residential Open Space Regulations:
Mr. Chalder noted he has drafted regulation revisions based on discussions held during previous discussions. The regulations are not yet proposals but are strategies for discussion posed in regulatory language. Mr. Chalder suggested we are not yet close to resolution of the revisions; whether we will need until June to complete the project remains to be seen. He felt this is a big first step. Mr. Chalder noted we will want to amend the Plan of Conservation and Development (POD) as well.
Mr. Chalder then reviewed each revised section, and opened discussion to the audience.
Mr. Chalder noted the overview summarizes objectives for revisions to the Zoning Regulations and the Subdivision Regulations. Specific changes follow.
Page 2 – Zoning Regulation Strategies:
Proposes new definitions for Lot Area, Buildable Area (Lot), and Developable Area (Parcel) under Section 4. Buildable Area would remove wetlands, slopes, etc. from developable area of the parcel. Commissioner Ouellette questioned why the buildable area needed to be contiguous? Mr. Chalder felt the intention was to help manage the growth that was happening. He felt you couldn’t have a lot that was created with the rest of its area in another area; you couldn’t use little pockets all over the place to make up a lot. Commissioner Ouellette questioned that this makes the definition more restrictive? Mr. Chalder replied affirmatively. Commissioner Ouellette concurred he had no problem with that.
Rand Stanley, of Rye Street, questioned what was East Windsor’s definition of Open Space? Mr. Chalder referenced page 3, Section 18 of the Zoning Regulations – the Bulk and Area Requirements. He noted this information is currently presented as a table which include the need for frontage and side yard requirements. He suggested the minimum lot requirement area is changing to the buildable area; the density factor is the tool that defines the number of house lots possible on a parcel. The density factor is presently shown under the minimum requirements but it should be reflected under the maximum requirements. Mr. Chalder suggested that if you do a Planned Residential Development (PRD) you would get 10% more house lots; if you choose to do a conventional
subdivision there is a 10% hit as it’s not the Town’s long term goal. Commissioner Ouellette questioned why anyone would want to do a conventional subdivision; why not a bigger hit? Mr. Chalder suggested that’s what we want the developer to think, but he noted maybe there are areas in town where the conventional subdivision works better because of the configuration of the parcel, etc. Perhaps it’s a parcel with more frontage and only one lot deep so the developer would only get a strip of lots, but with larger parcels we want to encourage developers to do a PRD.
Speaking from the audience Gil Lowell questioned the distance for the side yard, as he didn’t see anything mentioned in Mr. Chalder’s draft. Mr. Chalder suggested he wasn’t changing the side yard distance. Mr. Lowell questioned what they were now; Mr. Chalder questioned what zone; Mr. Lowell indicated Zone A-1. Mr. Chalder indicated the side yard distance is 20’ and will stay the same. Mr. Lowell questioned the frontage distance; Mr. Chalder indicated 50'. Mr. Lowell questioned the dimensions of a lot today? Mr. Chalder indicated 80,000 square feet and 200’ of frontage. Town Planner Whitten noted they have been considering combining zones A-1 and A-2 because zone A-2 contains steep slopes, which are not
Page 3 – Residential Bulk and Area Requirements:
Sets out specific size requirements for Minimum Lot Requirements (with no changes) but moves the density factor for Conservation Developments under the Planned Residential Development Regulations to Maximum Lot Size Requirements under Section 18.
Pages 4 – 7 – Planned Residential Developments:
Mr. Chalder suggested the Commission is trying to promote a more flexible development pattern. Speaking from the audience Mr. Buttenkoff questioned what defines a development; can it be just 2 houses? Mr. Chalder replied affirmatively.
Mr. Chalder noted he didn’t see a lot of opportunity to do PRDs in R-2 Zones; he mad add A-2 instead. The requirements of the underlying zone apply unless modified by the Commission. Mr. Chalder noted he has set out the Special Permit Requirements under Section 20.2.
Mr. Chalder noted he has deleted the previous language of Section 20.3 – Additional Requirements; section a & b will no longer be required. As they do want to encourage preliminary discussions with staff the section has been re-titled as Recommended Procedures and the wording the recommendation for staff meetings.
Mr. Chandler noted that under Section 20.5 – Open Space Requirements he is recommending that under PRDs 30% of the property must be offered as Open Space. Commissioner Ouellette noted the language doesn’t say the Open Space must be buildable area. Mr. Chalder replied negatively, noting that because of the density factor it doesn’t reduce anyone’s developable yield. If you increased the Open Space percentage you would still get the same number of houses because of the density factor.
Speaking from the audience Bob Lyke, of Rye Street, questioned how that differs from the amount of property on a slope? Mr. Chalder suggested land over 15% isn’t developable land so it isn’t included in the developable land. Mr. Chalder then gave an example of developable land, the impact of the density factor, and the developable yield.
Also speaking from the audience Rand Stanley, of Rye Street, questioned, if based on Mr. Chalder’s example, would the fee-in-lieu-of Open Space still be 20%? Mr. Chalder replied that it could be 20 houses on 50 acres (vs. his example) but the developable would still pay on the 20%. Commissioner Ouellette questioned that if they applied today’s standard for PRDs would it yield more houses? Mr. Chalder replied negatively, noting it would yield the same number. With the density factor it doesn’t matter how someone gerrymanders the lots, they can’t get more lots. The Commission will tell the developer this is the most lots they can get, see how you can lay it out. They will lay out the best lots which will be more expensive.
Mr. Chalder continued reviewing the language of the subsections of Section 20.5. He suggested that Open Space owned by a homeowners association doesn’t do a lot for the community, as they sometimes feel it’s their land and you can look at it but don’t use it. Having it owned be a land trust may be a better option. Commissioner Ouellette questioned the wording of subsection b; Mr. Chalder suggested that if someone wanted to give the Town something which the Town doesn’t feel it’s good for the community the Commission can define how the Open Space will be preserved.
Speaking from the audience Don Arcari, of Harrington Road, noted he understood the issue of side yards was a question of interpretation for an earlier project; does this take care of that? Mr. Chalder suggested that issue is addressed under another section and will be discussed later.
Mr. Chalder noted on pages 6 and 7 he has deleted the current Section 20.6 – Area & Bulk Requirements Table; he noted the new language being proposed. His intent is to preserve the rural character of rural roadways. Speaking from the audience, Rand Stanley, of Rye Street, questioned if the provision for contiguous Open Space be waived? If 5 acres along a road is deeded as Open Space could they take another 15
acres along a greenway? Mr. Chalder replied affirmatively. Mr. Stanley queried that it doesn’t need to be all together? Mr. Chalder replied affirmatively. Mr. Stanley questioned if there is any minimum in the “substantial” (see draft language) part? Mr. Chalder replied he has left it out purposely so it can be parcel specific. Mr. Chalder noted under Section 2 he is trying to promote the creation of meaningful Open Space.
Mr. Chalder noted that on page 7 the meat of the regulation is laid out. The base Open Space requirement is 20% in East Windsor, if a developer provides 30% under a PRD then the Town gains 10% more than with a conventional subdivision. The developer will also get 10% flexibility on other standards, such as side yard distances, set backs, frontage, road area, etc., and using the density factor to limit the number of houses it gives the developer the ability to make a better subdivision.
Commissioner Ouellette referenced subsections 3 and 4, and questioned why the Commission’s vote was necessary? Mr. Chalder suggested he wanted the Commission to be comfortable with the regulation; he is just as comfortable with a majority vote as the specified language. He indicated this is a big power for the Commission; you need to be sure everyone is treated fairly and given due process. The percentage of the vote was discussed. Speaking from the audience, Mike Ceppetelli, felt this is a dangerous situation; he cited the Commission is not an elected body and could show favoritism to certain developers. Town Planner Whitten suggested that’s why the vote was included in the regulation. Mr. Ceppetelli questioned what did the Commission care? Chairman Guiliano pointed out the Commission does care. Town Planner Whitten noted the Commission is here on a volunteer basis; they do care about their responsibilities. Mr. Chalder indicated he has made a note that the language
makes some people uncomfortable; it will come up under discussion during the Public Hearing. He noted he feels strongly in Sections 3 and 4, and 5 is needed in addition. Also speaking from the audience, Bob Lyke, of Rye Street, suggested what happens in writing will set a precedent for the next developer. Town Planner Whitten suggested each property is different and this would only apply to Open Space for that property. It may allow for a more flexible development and more conservation on one parcel, and on the next property it may not do anything. The Commission would only use it where appropriate. Discussion continued for some time. Mr. Chalder suggested future discussions will occur on this subject. He also noted this provision is only applied to the PRD. Chairman Guiliano felt it was necessary to make that clear; this provision only applies to the PRD, not regular/conventional subdivisions.
Waivers are sometimes necessary in a PRD to get more Open Space and keep the area rural; if people don’t give the Commission latitude to make those changes they will not be able to preserve the Open Space. Chairman Guiliano reiterated the Commission is not looking to give people favoritism; this is not a political Commission.
Speaking from the audience, Al Grant, of Melrose, questioned what a PRD was; was it something someone applied for; is it an exception? Mr. Chalder suggested it’s a different development pattern which applies to single family residential development; it’s a more flexible arrangement of lots and gives the developer more flexibility, and because
of the density factor they will give more Open Space, etc. Mr. Grant indicated he didn’t know what the design standards were. Mr. Chalder suggested they have tried to make it optional; they must have gone through an analysis of why it’s not a better subdivision. Mr. Grant questioned if this would become the standard over time? Mr. Chalder noted the Natural Resources Preservation Committee is working on a tool to assist the Commission and developers identify preferable Open Space, etc. Mr. Grant questioned if there was a minimum number of lots? Mr. Chalder suggested if someone is coming for one lot at a time at some point we will want to see a master plan to see if the greenway is what we want, etc. He suggested that if it’s a 100
acre farm there isn’t a lot you can do with that but maybe you can cluster the houses and preserve the field for some to farm or raise horses. Mr. Grant questioned if there was any plan to transfer the development rights between parcels? Mr. Chalder suggested that gets more complicated; he would rather see the Town get the PRD under way and then work towards the transfer of development rights.
Pages 8 – 10 – Multi-Family Development:
Includes condominiums, active adult housing, and apartments. Mr. Chalder suggested the Special Development District is a Special Use Permit issue presently, and is now allowable in any zone. He is proposing to make it a Special District, which gives the Commission the ability to say that they like the plan or not. When you allow multi-family housing in any zone by Special Permit it gives the developer the ability to take the most beneficial option to them with regard to multi-family housing vs. single family. The developers often fill the record with testimony regarding traffic, etc. to make the record reflect that they are entitled to that proposal because there are no negative impacts to the neighborhood.
Mr. Chalder noted he has revised Section 8A.3 – Applicability, which indicates a parcel must be a certain size, and that the area must be shown in the Plan of Development (POD) as appropriate for multi-family housing.
Mr. Chalder noted that on page 9 he is addressing the comment he heard earlier that in multi-family developments in East Windsor we count the land between the units. That’s because Open Space isn’t defined in the Zoning Regulations. Mr. Chalder felt it’s really a maximum impervious coverage regulation. He is saying you can’t cover more than 45% of the area with buildings, etc. He suggested that realistically there is no Open Space requirement under the Multi-family housing regulations, other than the requirement that 3% of the parcel must be recreational area. Chairman Guiliano suggested they were trying to make more area around the houses and under the multi-family regulations it’s doing the opposite. Discussion followed regarding
possible scenarios for provision of open space relative to density, transfer of development rights, etc.
Mr. Chalder suggested he is proposing to make a SDD a zone change, and creating a map of where it would be applicable. He suggested they could set a base density factor, and if
the developer wanted to go higher then they must do so through the transfer of development rights. Speaking from the audience, Mike Cepettelli suggested he likes the proposal but felt we must consider the revenue lost via the transfer of development rights. We must also look at what we are attracting, perhaps more students? Mr. Chalder suggested that condominiums of 2 bedrooms or less really don’t create that many students. He noted that one of the things he’s heard in discussion is that we want to have a good range of diversity of housing in East Windsor. He felt we would have to add 2400 housing units to fall below the minimum standard of 10% for affordable housing. Speaking from the audience Bob Lyke, of Rye Street,
noted he’s heard discussion in the past year that we need more elderly housing. Mr. Chalder questioned if that would be market rate housing or subsidized? He noted the market is bringing units on line but someone would question if they are affordable. Also speaking from the audience, Gil Lowell, noted they sell for $300,000. Bob Lyke suggested there is a big difference between elderly housing and active adult housing. Gil Lowell questioned how you separate that type of housing? Bob Lyke gave his definitions. Gil Lowell suggested something like what’s in the center of Broad Brook isn’t bad; it’s reasonable rent but at the cost today no one can afford to buy. Discussion continued regarding the various options of elderly housing.
Mr. Chalder reviewed proposed revisions for standards for roadways, and requirements for zone changes.
Page 11 – Subdivision Regulations:
Sets out the process of how lots are created, and outlines changes to the developer’s requirements with regard to preparing a plan. Mr. Chalder suggested he is taking out Section 2.6 – Developable Land and moving it into the Subdivision Regulations. Section 2.9 deals with revisions regarding Open Space. Section 5. – The Final Plan deals with requirements for Subdivision approval; he is adding new sections 5.7 – Landscape Design, and 5.8 – Traffic Analysis. Speaking from the audience, Bob Lyke, of Rye Street, suggested the Commission should consider hiring its own traffic engineers.
Page 12 – 13 – Dimensional Requirements:
Sets out standards for cul-de-sac road length and drainage. Mr. Chalder noted the current requirement is for a 28’ road width; he is considering reducing that width to 26’ but cites the need for the Commission and public officials (Fire Marshal, Town Engineer) to be comfortable with the change. Speaking from the audience Gil Lowell felt 22’ was ok when only the people on the road use it. He cited he likes the look of TreeTop Lane. Also speaking from the audience George Buttenkoff suggested maybe there should be a requirement that the houses be sprinklered.
Mr. Chalder suggested he is suggesting deleting the length for cul-de-sacs but encouraging the number of lots allowable on these roads. He also noted he is specifically referencing permanent cul-de-sacs (those never to be extended), and suggesting a center
landscaping island be required. This would help define/identify the permanent cul-de-sac.
MOTION: To TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK
Ouellette moved/Saunders seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
The Commission RECESSED at 8:10 P. M. and RECONVENED at 8:20 P. M.
Mr. Chalder reviewed proposed changes for Section 6.2 - Pedestrian Easements, Section 6.3 – Sidewalks and Pathways, and Section 6.11 – Storm Drainage. Mr. Chalder noted the need to discuss Section 6.11 with Town Engineer Norton; he is proposing a 0% increase in run off and reducing the amount of run off to pre-development conditions.
Discussion turned to rear lot requirements; Town Planner Whitten noted they are allowed under Zoning Regulations by Special Use Permit. Mr. Chalder suggested they may disappear under the regulations that are being proposed; by limiting the number of lots it may eliminate the incentive for rear lots.
Page 14 – 16 – Open Space Requirements:
Replace Open Space Regulations with this section which is more organized.
Mr. Chalder noted under Section 7.5 – Fee In Lieu Requirements, the current allowance is $2,000 per lot; he suggested he may suggest that the Town Assessor declare a proposed value on an annual basis.
Discussion followed regarding the definition of Open Space; Mr. Chalder referenced Section 1.10 of the Subdivision Regulations for language. Discussion also turned to the deeding of land to specific organizations; Mr. Chalder felt the Commission would recognize a land trust, etc. but that it had the ability to deny inappropriate organizations. Town Planner Whitten noted that what is perceived as Open Space by the public is what is in the SDD and affordable housing regulations; it’s not the same as what’s in the Subdivision Regulations. She noted discussion tonight involved 3 different definitions/types of Open Space. Speaking from the audience George Buttenkoff questioned that 20% of land is allowable to be offered for Open Space but the value of the Fee-In-Lieu-Of Open Space is 10%?
Mr. Chalder and Town Planner Whitten noted the figures are set by the Connecticut General Statutes.
Discussion then turned to other issues to be considered for review.
The next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, January 17, 2006 at 6:30 P. M.; location to be determined
MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 8:42 P. M.
Ouellette moved/Saunders seconded/VOTE: In Favor: Unanimous
Peg Hoffman, Planning and Zoning Recording Secretary