Developer of Pawcatuck apartment project seeks expansion to Rutman's property

Stonington — The developer of the approved but unbuilt 44-unit Spruce Meadows apartment project off Route 1 in Pawcatuck is now seeking approval to build a separate 43-unit project on two adjacent parcels, one of which is now occupied by Rutman's Furniture.

The mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units called Spruce Ridge would be located on 3.5 acres of land at 88 S. Broad St., owned by Leonard and Sandra Epstein, and 86 S. Broad St., which is Rutman's.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will now schedule a public hearing on the special use permit needed for the project this summer.

Plans call for two three-story building as well as a community center that will contain a fitness center, meeting room and caretaker's apartment. A walkway would connect it to Spruce Meadows.

The project is being submitted under the state affordable housing law, which limits the commission's ability to deny the special use permit even if the project does not meet zoning regulations. It can only be rejected if health and safety concerns outweigh the need for affordable housing.

The law applies to communities that have less than 10 percent of their housing stock dedicated to affordable housing. Stonington has 3. 8 percent.

The Spruce Ridge application points out to the commission that it cannot consider items such as the project's impact on the school system and the character of the neighborhood or whether or not it conforms to zoning.

Multifamily housing projects such as this one are not allowed in the local shopping district where it would be built. The project also lacks the required amount of parking and slightly exceeds the 40-foot height limit.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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