Big housing-retail project gains OK from East Lyme

East Lyme - The massive commercial and residential development planned for East Lyme is one more approval closer to becoming a reality.

The Zoning Commission Thursday night unanimously approved a Master Development Plan for the project known as Gateway Commons.

The approval locks the developers, KGI Properties of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and SK Properties of West Hartford, into their particular concept.

Commission members made a half-dozen modifications to the master plan, including limiting certain signage on town roads, giving themselves more control over the building materials and colors and requiring that the project not use town water for irrigation purposes, unless they use gray water created by sinks or showers.

The principal developers for the project said they are pleased to get to this point, but realized there are still a number of steps ahead.

”At this point we have a local town form of approval,” said Chris Knisley, a principal with KGI Properties. “We still have to deal with state and other local issues and more to come.”

A detailed site plan is still required to be presented to the commission, and other state and local agencies must still approve certain aspects of the project.

The developers proposed to bring 425,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space and 275 apartment and townhouse units to the 168-acre parcel near Exit 74 of Interstate 95.

The application process has been a long, and sometimes bumpy, road for the developers.

Their initial proposal was rejected in 2007 and was approved only after they went back and made modifications to their plan.

”This gives us a master plan for what should become a signature development for this part of the state,” said Jay Fisher, a principal with SK Properties.

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