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Revisions to Seaside property plans considered by Waterford commission

By Tess Townsend

Publication: The Day

Published August 21. 2014 4:00AM

Waterford - Planning and Zoning Commission member Dana Award emphasized public access to the property as he proposed revisions Wednesday to developer Mark Steiner's requested amendments to the regulations of the Seaside Preservation Zoning District.

Steiner is the state's preferred developer for the former Seaside Regional Center for the developmentally disabled, located off Shore Road. The commission is slated to vote on his proposed zoning amendments by Sept. 19.

Award was the most vocal commissioner at the meeting, during which the commission discussed planning department staff recommendations for revisions to the amendment changes.

Award, who is a neighbor of Seaside, said he felt roads within the property should be public rather than private, as Steiner has proposed. He said he believed Steiner had proposed private roads in order to accommodate more buildings, and suggested that the number of condos permitted on the property be restricted about 80. Steiner has proposed 104 units.

"If we limit the number of freestanding buildings, we don't need the change to private roads. We can have public roads," Award said.

"I hesitate a little bit on being that restrictive," said Planning Director Dennis Goderre, explaining that restrictions could pose problems depending on future demands on the housing market.

Goderre added that ultimately, appropriate density would be determined through the wetlands permit process.

Award also said he thought staff should add a provision requiring that the entirety of the shoreline portion of the property be public.

One key revision proposed by staff in a memo distributed at the meeting was to restrict construction of an inn to the historic staff building, also called the nurse's building, designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert. Allowing for an inn is among the changes Steiner has proposed to the zoning regulations.

Commissioner Edwin Maguire said he thought the location of the inn should be flexible and that the main hospital building, also designed by Gilbert, should also be considered an option.

"Let's just spitball here - let's just say that this developer drops out altogether and we're left with this regulation. … I'm just trying not to tie our hands," Maguire said.

Another revision proposed by staff was for the regulations to specifically state that a "fine dining restaurant" be permitted on the property, rather than just a restaurant, as proposed by Steiner. Staff also recommended that a tavern accommodating 30 people be allowed.

The commission will meet again at 6 p.m. Monday and will start the meeting with discussion of staff recommendations for Seaside zoning changes, before moving on to other agenda items. Town Attorney Robert Avena said it is unlikely the commission will vote on Steiner's proposed zoning changes Monday.

Mark Steiner and his attorney Lewis Wise declined to comment after the meeting.

t.townsend@theday.com
Twitter: @ConnecticuTess

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