Superior Court ruling in favor of developer Glenn Russo forces town to establish formal application process
East Lyme - The Zoning Commission began a discussion Thursday of proposed affordable housing regulations as directed by a Superior Court decision on the Landmark Development Group's application for the Oswegatchie Hills.
Over more than a decade of multiple applications and court cases, developer Glenn Russo of the Middletown-based Landmark has sought to develop housing in an area of the hills, including some units of affordable housing.
In 2005, the commission rejected Landmark's application to build 850 units there, citing environmental, sewage and traffic concerns, among others. Superior Court rulings upheld the commission's decision in 2004 and 2008, but Judge Stephen F. Frazzini ruled in 2011 that the commission must review its affordable housing rules.
The court also directed the commission to add regulations on public health and safety for Landmark and other future affordable housing proposals, Town Attorney Ed O'Connell said at the meeting Thursday evening.
O'Connell read aloud a draft of proposed provisions, which detailed specific requirements for each stage of the affordable housing application process. The specifications would incorporate current and newly proposed regulations and Landmark's proposed regulations.
The proposed rules would require a conceptual site plan for affordable housing to include proposed utility lines, location of wetlands, watercourses and slopes in "excess of" 25 percent, the arrangement of the property's residential units and structures and the locations of open space, recreation areas, parking spaces and roads.
The preliminary site plan would have to include design plans, an affordability plan - as required by state law - a traffic impact report, the number of units and bedrooms for each unit, a water flow and drainage report, applications for state Department of Energy and Environment Protection permits, a public health and safety report, a sewage disposal plan and a water supply plan.
The commission will review the draft modifications again at its next meeting on Sept. 20. A public hearing will take place at a later date.
A lawyer for Landmark did not attend the meeting, but O'Connell relayed a message from attorney Timothy Hollister that his client is eager to proceed to a public hearing.
About 40 people attended the meeting. The Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve, which has been opposed to developing the area, issued a statement in late August urging residents to attend the meeting. The 420-acre nature preserve opened in 2007.