Bethel zoning panel to consider 62-unit proposal

A public hearing has been set for Feb. 12 for this latest leg in the saga of Toll Brothers' attempts to develop the 22-acre property at 79 Reservoir St. The application was received by Planning and Zoning at its Jan. 7 meeting.

The issue began in 2002 with an application to build 129 units on the parcel -- 30 percent of which would have been affordable housing. It led to lawsuits and appeals by Toll Brothers, the town and the town's Public Utilities Commission.

If approved by Planning and Zoning, the zone change to a Designed Conservation District and the special permit to allow construction of the 17-building, 62-unit development would end the town's appeal to a Superior Court finding in Toll Brothers' favor to build a 128-unit development at the site.

Gregory Kamedulski, vice president in Connecticut for Toll Brothers, said he had no comment on the latest application.

Called Bethel Meadows, the development would have 50 units of restricted dwellings of affordable housing and 12 units of unrestricted housing. Toll Brothers has proposed making a payment of $960,000 to the town for the 12 units approved as unrestricted. The payment would be deposited into the account established by the town for use in the construction and renovation of affordable housing in the town.

First Selectman Bob Burke sees the settlement to be "as good as the town can get." Instead of 128 units, there will be 62, and there will be significant money coming into the town for affordable housing. Burke said the selectmen have not discussed such an affordable housing trust fund account yet, but if such money came in, an account would be established.

One settlement issue that still lingers is sewer service to the units.

Director of Public Works Andrew Morosky said Friday that a decision will be reached in a meeting of the Public Utilities Commission next month about allowing Toll Brothers to hook into the town's existing sewer system. The sewer line now stops just in front of the property. Toll Brothers has brought suit against the Public Utility Commission in the matter. Morosky said the commission feels it could accept this plan.

"Toll Brothers would put in their own pump station and a forced main line to the main sewer line," Morosky said. "Whether the existing sewer system can handle the flow from the development is not an issue at this time."

Toll Brothers would pay a fee of approximately $1,100 per unit in inflow and infiltration fees to correct some leaks in the sewer system in that area of town. Leaks there are limited but do exist, Morosky said.

Saxton Road resident Tom Hessler is a property owner in the area of the proposed development and is not so sure the present sewer system in town can handle the flow.

"We had the sewer back up in mid-September. It was overflowing. It took 16 hours to unclog it. I still have the same concerns I had then (about the development). Nothing has changed," Hessler said.

The fear of increased flooding is another concern for Hessler, who has lived on Saxon Road since 1995. The area is in a flood plain.

Hessler is one of many who wrote letters to the Planning and Zoning Commission and attended public hearings to oppose the development.


A public hearing is set for Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Denis J. Riordan Room D, Bethel Municipal Center, 1 School St., on the latest application for Bethel Meadows.