Cross and Vitti master plan review begins
Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission asked the town’s senior planner to adjust a working draft of new zoning standards and design guidelines for Cross and Vitti Streets to address parking and other issues.
The body discussed the master plan at a special meeting Sept. 23.
“We’re pleasantly happy with the product we’ve gotten,” Planning & Zoning Commission Chairman Tom Goodwin said.
The new plan, done by consultant Planimetrics, is supposed to guide developers who want to propose projects to provide service and keep the appearance of the area in harmony with nearby downtown thoroughfares such as Main and Elm streets.
The plan was initiated because the potential impact of redevelopment of the area was identified in the town’s 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development.
The group raised concerns during the meeting about minimum parking requirements for buildings, maximum total square footage, and whether and how many residential units should be allowed. One facet of the plan could possibly leave open the door to allowing spots to be shared among different uses such as offices during the day and residential uses at night.
Commissioner Laszlo Papp questioned recommendations in the plan that would allow developers to pay the town to obtain exemptions from providing “all or a portion,” of the required off-street parking that would normally be required for projects. The idea is based on the proximity of public parking, according to the plan.
“To go so far in this instance to pay all of it makes no sense,” Papp said. “I think we have reasonable requirements for parking more or less given the compactness of the town.”
During a discussion of allowable uses in the area, another expressed concern was whether to craft regulations meant to limit the number of medical offices or facilities within the area.
The list of allowable uses in the plan would retain many of the types of services and businesses already in the area, including medical and professional offices, automotive repair, dry cleaning, contractors, and others.
Commissioner Jean Grzelecki said Stamford and Norwalk hospitals established satellite offices in the area in recent years.
“How many locations is each hospital going to need really?” Grzelecki said.
“I don’t know if I’d try to limit it,” Dunn said. “Right now health care has to be the number one or two growth industries in our country. People today are interested in their health and people take an interest in improving their health as never before.”
“I think if we try to design how medical offices should be structured we’ll probably mess it up,” Ward said. “I think evolution and the marketplace will take care of a lot of this.”
A hard date has not been set for the plan’s next step, a public hearing, Goodwin said but the body hopes to get the document back with minor changes for a public hearing, “sooner rather than later.”