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New roads, buildings eyed at Seaside

Published June 13. 2014 4:00AM
Developer presents plan in advance of June 25 hearing

By TESS TOWNSEND

Waterford - Farmington-based developer Mark Steiner has submitted a master plan concept of proposed development in the Seaside Preservation Zoning District, site of the former Seaside Regional Center for the developmentally disabled.

Planning and Zoning received the plan, along with a traffic evaluation report stating that the area can accommodate traffic projections and a letter stating that current water and sewer facilities can support the proposed development, by FedEx on Thursday according to P&Z staff.

P&Z requested the materials of Steiner and firm Richter & Cegan Inc., which has worked with Steiner throughout the process of planning development of Seaside, last month to aid the Planning and Zoning Commission in its review of Steiner's proposal to amend the zoning regulations for the district. A public hearing for the proposal is set for June 25.

The new plan is purely conceptual, according to Planner Mark Wujtewicz, and does not constitute an official site plan.

The plan includes about 50 new structures, referred to as "village homes," on the premises and appears to add new roads. Old buildings, which Steiner has said he plans to either restore or rebuild, appear to remain in their current locations. The narrow nurses' building, designed by famous architect Cass Gilbert, is labeled "The Inn at Seaside."

The plan shows a public access road to the beach running along the eastern side of the property, ending in a public parking lot at a park entrance that is walking distance from the beach. Other new parking lots are included as well, plus two underground parking garages.

A "Seaside Walk" along the beach, "overlook" locations on the shore, and trees throughout the property, especially along its perimeter, are also included in the aerial map submitted.

The letter from Groton-based Dicesare-Bentley Engineers Inc. regarding water and sewer facilities states that the newest master plan differs from a 2012 master plan Steiner submitted to them in that it decreases the number of units from 122 to 104 and adds an inn containing up to 40 rooms, as well as a 150-seat banquet facility and 60-seat restaurant.

"We do not anticipate that the changes in the Master Plan will result in a substantially changed set of requirements for utility services for the project," the letter states.

In 2012, Steiner publicly presented a master plan to P&Z, but did not leave a copy of the plan on record with the town.

The traffic evaluation, conducted by Fairfield-based Frederick P. Clark Associates Inc., states in the findings section that the area can accommodate additional traffic from the proposed development.

"The combined development, as described above, could generate under a worst case scenario 67 and 130 trip ends during a typical weekday morning and weekday afternoon peak hour, respectively," the evaluation states. A "worst case" traffic situation assumes 150 guests and 2.5 people per vehicle, according to the evaluation.

The evaluation measured current peak-hour volume of trip ends at 139 vehicles between 8-9 a.m. and 131 vehicles between 3-4 p.m., based on data from the state Department of Transportation.

The evaluation states that the proposed new use "will actually result in significant lower site traffic levels" than occurred when the site was used as a hospital.

It calculated that the combined number of entries and exits, or trip ends, at a 219-bed hospital for the weekday morning and afternoon peak hour would be 250 and 287, respectively. The 80-year old property had 219 patients and 200 staff at its highest use in the mid-1980s, according to the evaluation.

Steiner did not return requests for comment Thursday afternoon. Planning Director Dennis Goderre said Wednesday that he was hesitant to comment on Seaside developments outside of public meetings, and Thursday did not return requests for comment.

Steiner, the state's preferred developer for the $8-million property, submitted a new proposal for zoning changes for the Seaside property in April, after more than a year of inactivity with the proposed development. He later withdrew that proposal and submitted a similar proposal in May.

The property, on Long Island Sound off Shore Road, is on the National Register of Historic Places and formerly housed an institution for the developmentally disabled. Two buildings on the property were designed by Gilbert.

t.townsend@theday.com

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