Developer revises application for affordable housing in East Lyme

East Lyme - The developers seeking to build affordable housing in a light-industrial zone by West Main Street and Capital Drive have submitted a revised application of 60 units to the Zoning Commission.

JAG Capital Drive LLC is aiming to build the "Rocky Neck Village" affordable housing proposal on 24 acres in a light-industrial zone, roughly a half mile from the Rocky Neck Connector.

In March, the commission denied an application to change the light-industrial zone to an affordable housing district and build a 69-unit development in the area. The commission had said the proposed development's proximity to the light industry and manufacturing area did not suit residential use.

The revised application presented at a public hearing last Thursday calls for nine fewer units than the original application. The proposal also provides additional landscaping, a smaller paved area within the development, and at least a 50-foot buffer zone between the units and the industrial zone, according to Theodore Harris, the attorney representing the developer.

Harris also said the commission could approve the site plan without changing the overall area from a light-industrial zone to an affordable housing district. He cited a case law interpretation of the state statute governing affordable housing.

He submitted new materials to the commission, such as an aerial photo of the affordable housing development on 38 Hope St., which he said is in the light-industrial zone and has smaller buffer zones in place than the proposed development.

Thursday's public hearing drew comments from business owners in the light-industrial zone, as well as from the developer and supporters.

Norman Birk, founder of Birk Manufacturing, which is a company next to the proposed development, questioned building housing in the light-industrial area.

He said his business is growing 20 percent a year, but he is finding few available industrial properties in town. Though he would prefer to stay in East Lyme, he said the business could "end up leaving the site eventually if we can't expand."

The commission has until early June to make a decision.


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