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P&Z Commission OKs change to allow senior housing plan to move forward

January 7, 2019

TRUMBULL — The Planning and Zoning commission has approved changes to regulations that take a proposed mixed senior housing development closer to reality.

The commission voted 4-1 on Jan. 2 to change language that would restrict residents in the units to a person and “spouse,” although it did leave standing an outright ban on children under age 19 from living there.

“I know this flies in the face of old-school, but within the four walls of their apartments, I don’t think we need to inflict on people that they need to be married,” said Commission chairman Fred Garrity before proposing that the words “or cohabitant” be added after “spouse.”

The changes passed the commission 4-1 with Garrity, Dan Helfrich, Tony D’Aquila and Anthony Chory voting in favor, and Larry LaConte opposing.

The new regulation will allow the group 48 Monroe Turnpike LLC to formally propose a plan to build about 150 independent living units, plus assisted living and memory care, on the former UnitedHealth site on Route 111.

The independent living units would be subject to an over-55 age restriction. The development group has shown the commission drafts of what it intends to propose and requested the zoning changes be applied to the property.

The commission also briefly discussed eliminating language that prohibited children under age 19 from living at the property. Garrity said he doubted whether families with children would be drawn to live in an age-restricted facility that also included assisted living and memory care.

“It’s not like there’s going to be swing sets in the courtyard,” he said. That discussion ended as fellow commissioners Chory and D’Aquila voiced their support for keeping the 19-year-old limit.

Chory commented that reducing the number of apartments that could affect the school population was one of the factors that made the zone change palatable.

“I see a number of good things here,” he said. Other positives included the existence of a stop light at the entrance to the property and the site’s Route 111 location.

“The area should be very desirable,” Chory said. “There’s a gym and restaurants across the street, and the light will allow them to come and go safely.”

D’Aquila said he thought the proposal was in keeping with the town’s revisions to its Plan of Conservation and Development and could help seniors age in place.

“As our population continues to age, and households shrink, I expect to see a sustained interest in sustainable housing needs,” D’Aquila said.

Garrity concluded the discussion by noting that although the commission had heard plenty of pros and cons, he believed the changes would ultimately be good for the town.

“I believe this application shows positive economic growth for the town with very little impact, and no effect on schools,” he said.

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