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    Monday, March 20, 2023

    Developer proposes 26 affordable homes in Ledyard; neighbors object

    A clearing on the north side of Stoddards Wharf Road in Ledyard, seen on the right side of this photograph on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, is the proposed site of a housing development by Avery Brooks Homes, LLC. (Peter Huoppi/The Day)
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    Ledyard — A new development company, Avery Brook Homes, LLC, is seeking to construct 26 single-family homes on a 9-acre site off Stoddards Wharf Road.

    Members of the public will be able to voice their support or opposition to the development at a public hearing of the Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Commission at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday at the Ledyard Town Hall.

    One day this past week, a bulldozer sat on the partially cleared site, off a quiet, winding road, awaiting for large-scale construction to begin. A land survey of the project indicates the initial plan was to build 36 homes around a loop on lots ranging from .19 to .42 acres and have on-site well water and septic systems.

    The number of homes was decreased in November 2022 to 26 homes after Groton Utilities and Ledyard Light Health District cited concerns about the density of septic tanks and utility infrastructure.

    The property, which was previously four separate parcels, ranging from 1.7 to 3 acres, was purchased by Avery Brook Homes in April 2022. Avery Brook Homes registered with the Secretary of the State as a limited liability company in March 2022.

    Peter Gardner, listed as a member of the company along with Conrad Gardner and Anthony Bonafine, declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.

    The proposal was submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission under Connecticut’s affordable housing law, Section 8-30g, which would allow the developer to override local zoning laws unless there is proof the development would be a concern to public health and safety. Plans indicate at least 30% of the homes in the development would be priced as affordable homes. Sale prices for a three-bedroom home would range from $220,000 to $320,000, depending on the buyer’s income compared to the median area income, according to an affordability plan submitted by the developer.

    Housing is considered affordable when it doesn’t cost the people who live there more than 30% of their income.

    Some Ledyard residents who live adjacent to the property have expressed opposition to the development, claiming there are traffic concerns, according to Juliet Hodge, director of Land Use and Planning.

    Hodge said the residents indicated the property’s location is not suitable for 26 houses due to the density and location of the property.

    Additionally, Groton Utilities officials have voiced concerns, as they believe the septic systems and wells could pose a danger to the watershed that feeds into a nearby river.

    Harry B Heller, the attorney representing Avery Brook Homes, said the original application, filed with the Planning and Zoning Commission in October 2022, was withdrawn due to the delay of the Wetlands Commission meeting. The wetlands meeting was originally scheduled for November 1, but was canceled due to illness and postponed to December 6, 2022.

    “Due to the delay in the public hearing process before the Wetlands Commission, the applicant has been prejudiced in its ability to present relevant information to the Planning and Zoning Commission,” he said.

    Hodge, the planning and zoning director, stated at a September 8, 2022 meeting of Planning & Zoning Commission that Avery Brook Homes has met all the requirements thus far to be approved, according to meeting minutes.

    If there are any concerns about safety, it would be up to the Wetlands Commission to substantiate them.

    “It’s up to the Commission to prove that. It’s not up to the applicant to prove that they’re going to cause any harm,” Hodge said at the meeting. “The onus is on the Commission.”

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