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P&Z unanimous vote: 143 Sound Beach Ave. denied

December 1, 2017 GMT

GREENWICH — Planning and Zoning officials have decided the public health and safety risks posed by a potential 60-unit apartment complex at 143 Sound Beach Ave. in Old Greenwich outweigh the need for affordable housing.

Ivy Realty’s application includes enough affordable housing units — totaling more than 50,000 square feet across from the Old Greenwich train station — to qualify for special consideration from the state regarding despite the fact that it does not meet regulations. State statutes require the commission to present proof that the problems caused by an apartment building that complies with Section 8-30 (g) could not be resolved by making reasonable changes to the proposal.

“We have received two letters from the fire chief dated,” said Chairman Richard Maitland at almost 2 a.m. Friday morning. “He states categorically that he opposes this project for public safety reasons.”

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Chief Peter Siecienski cited that evacuation routes in case of fire on the premises were not adequate and that there was not enough access for emergency repsonders to reach the building.

“(Ivy Realty) has stated this is a TOD, transit-oriented development,” said Maitland, “and as such they should not need as much parking as town regulations require. They submitted a study of 31 housing projects of TOD design…. The study concluded the parking ratio of 1.2 cars would be adequate…. This would translate to 72 spaces.

“They are only providing 47 spaces,” he said. “The applicant has no answer for where those cars would park. I’m opposed to this project.”

Commissioners also said that there was no effort from the developers to make changes suggested by the town and local residents who were concerned about the project.

“The (Section) 8-30 g application was problematic,” said Commissioner Peter Levy, “and they were just not interested in the issues we brught up. They didnt want to modify... (They) were not really responding to the concerns of the community and to our concerns.”

Aside from issues with fire safety, local residents forming the Stop 143 Sound Beach grass roots coalition were concerned about their children walking up and down Sound Beach Avenue’s narrow sidewalks with a slew of new cars. Parking on nearby streets is also limited during the day in the business district and prohibited on local side streets overnight.

Two local residents were present to hear the decision and neither the developers nor their attorney was there.

At the last Planning and Zoning Meeting on Nov. 9, Chip Haslun, attorney for 143 Sound Beach Associates surmised whatever decision the commission made would most likely go to court in an appeals process.

Email Jennifer Turiano at jturiano@greenwichtime.com and follow her on Twitter: @jturianoGT and Instagram: @greenwichgreen.