PZC OKs ‘Schanz Farm’ subdivision

Published: Friday, March 6, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD — The Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday approved the “Schanz Farm” subdivision of 30 houses on 64 acres along the Farm River.

The plan passed by a 3-1 vote, with Commissioner William Galdenzi dissenting. Commission Chairman Harry Dulak did not vote because he had not attended earlier meetings on the topic.

The commission found that the subdivision would not cause “unreasonable harm” to any natural resources in the area. But the three commissioners who approved the project — Rose Angeloni, Frances Lescovich and Charles Gunn — all said they did so with reservations.

“It does meet all our zoning regulations, so I feel I do have to approve it on that base,” Lescovich said.

The proposal by Sunwood Development Corp. would put the houses on property owned by June Schanz at 1775 Middletown Ave. The company won approval for the project from the Inland Wetlands Commission in June.

Proposals to develop the property have been under consideration in town for nearly a decade. The Planning and Zoning Commission twice rejected a different developer’s plan to build a 200-unit subdivision for people older than 55.

Sunwood Development had earlier proposed putting about 75 or 115 homes on the site. Its current proposal initially included 34 lots, but the Inland Wetlands Commission’s conditions of approval reduced the number.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has been considering the application for months, including many nights of public hearings. A group of residents had filed as official interveners to the project, saying that it would harm the natural resources and wildlife.

The commission’s approval Thursday included about 20 conditions, including the creation of open space that would be turned over to the North Branford Land Trust and provide public access to the river.

Galdenzi said at the meeting Thursday he voted against the plan because he was concerned that a large number of lots would require a conservation easement specifying that no changes be made to areas of the property near wetlands or the river.

“I’m just really unclear and uncomfortable about how that is enforceable,” he said. The Inland Wetlands Commission’s conditions of approval specified that boulders would be placed on the lot showing the border of the conservation easement. Planning and Zoning Commission members said several times during deliberations they were concerned homeowners would simply mow their lawns or dump yard debris beyond the boulders.

Gunn said his main concern was that many of the lots would only be accessible via a single bridge.

“I reluctantly vote for it because I’m really concerned about the 24 lots with access only over one bridge,” he said. “I vote for it because I unfortunately can think of no reason to vote against it reading the regulations.”

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