Connecticut: State and Local Government News
Stonington Inland Wetlands Commission Approves First Phase Permit for Perkins Farm Campus
The Stonington Inland Wetlands Commission has approved a permit for the first phase of the Perkins Farm Campus Project, a four-story, 121-unit apartment building on Jerry Browne Road in Mystic. It is the part of a 71-acre master plan to include medical offices as well as the residential piece.
Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce President Peggy Roberts testified in favor of the project at Thursday night’s public hearing preceding the commission vote. Other organizations advocating for the project included Mystic Aquarium, Olde Mistick Village, StoneRidge Retirement Community and the Stonington Economic Development Commission.
The property has several areas of wetland but the development team assured the commission these areas will not be adversely affected by the plan. Groton developer David Lattizori’s team walked the commission through a detailed plan to manage the water on the property. One neighbor, whose driveway is located close to the projects secondary access road, opposed the plan.
The vote clears the way for Lattizori to seek site plan approval of the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission.
Stonington EDC PoV by Dave Hammond, Chair
The Stonington EDC will provide a brief Point of View report for inclusion in the GMCC Newsletter on a variety of topics. The first report puts in context the Substantial Improvements regulation amendment in look-back period from five to one year, approved at the January 16, 2018 PZC meeting. Subsequent PoV reports will provide insights to the Stonington economy and ongoing EDC projects of interest to the business community.
On Tuesday, January 16, 2018, the PZC voted to amend the look-back period in the Substantial Improvement regulation from five years to one. The regulation had stipulated that improvements costing greater than 50% of the value of the property - cumulative over five years - could not exceed 50% of the property's value. If that figure was exceeded and the property was located in a flood zone, the building would be required to meet flood plain codes and be raised one foot above Base Flood Elevation (BFE). The requirement is often not practical for downtown village areas or for historic structures. For example, a three-story mixed-use building of historic value in downtown Pawcatuck in need of TLC and valued at $200K could receive only $100K improvements over five years, clearly limiting flexibility for redevelopment, and even maintenance and upkeep.
Why is this important? Our two bordering Towns – Groton and Westerly – have a one-year look-back. The difference in investment and development patterns is palpable. The 5-year look-back had caused an unintended consequence with visible economic cost including deferred maintenance, declining property values, lower tax base, vacancies, and a paucity of investment.
The Stonington EDC has contributed to several other initiatives intended to spur investment in downtown Pawcatuck. In September 2017, an effort led by the EDC and the Town Department of Planning resulted in contemporized zoning (Pawcatuck Village - PV-5) that encourages greater density and mixed-uses, critical for vibrant village areas. In May 2017, a similar effort led to updated zoning for the Mechanic Street mills (Heritage Mill District - HMD) to contemporize potential uses given that the demand for large-scale manufacturing has diminished. The EDC will be continuing to look at new tools that can be added to the investor / developer / property owner tool box to facilitate revitalization in this historic neighborhood, and preserve its important place in Stonington's heritage.
For comments and questions about this PoV, please contact Dave Hammond: firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-501-3727 (c)