The Parkside redevelopment is heading back to Court as the applicants look to avoid stipulations detailed in the approval.
The Branford Housing Authority and Beacon, the developer working on the project, have filed an appeal, despite a favorable 3-2 vote last month on a modification to the previous approval. The latest filing is the latest in a variety that have been filed in order to circumvent stipulations or local zoning law by the BHA and Beacon.
With the appeal, Beacon is attempting to avoid stipulations that would ensure emergency access via neighboring property. In ensuring said property will always remain undeveloped, and the available for emergency use and parking, the Planning and Zoning Commission required Beacon to obtain a deed restriction from the neighbor, making sure the impacted portion is never developed.
That neighboring portion is owned by the town. In order for the town to place a deed restriction on a property, the town charter requires approval by various town entities, including the Representative Town Meeting. Realizing approval is unlikely, Beacon and the Housing Authority are now trying to get that stipulation removed.
Last week, Tim Hollister the attorney for Beacon, sent in a list of questions for explanation by the Planning and Zoning commission. The item was on the July 11 agenda, but earlier in the day, Hollister filed the lawsuit. Due to the ongoing litigation, the Commission chose not to publicly discuss the questions posed, and instead will discuss it in executive session at a future meeting.
The Branford Housing Authority, which is not a town entity, and Beacon have filed a lengthy list of changes and appeals during the multi-year process.
Initially, the project was proposed without using the affordable housing statute. But the four story structure had little chance of passing in a neighborhood like Indian Neck, where its design made no attempt to match the area.
After making some changes, Beacon reapplied, this time using 8-30g, the affordable housing law. The law allowed the applicant to largely circumvent local zoning law, and limited reasons for denial to only health and safety issues.
After a lengthy process, the plan was granted a plurality, a 3-2 vote in favor. But neighbors had filed a petition against it, and reaching certain criteria, the law then required a supermajority vote, in this case 4-1. Falling short of such margin, the project was denied.
The BHA and Beacon appealed, and judge Robert Berger agreed with Beacon, that the supermajority vote did not apply to affordable housing applications. Thus the project was approved.
But, one of the conditions of approval was that Beacon obtain an access road, known as the Melrose access, on town property. Beacon, in their application, actually proposed this condition.
But as it was town property, it required approval by the town legislature, something that was denied 18-12. RTM members did not want a road to divide up a town asset and neighbors on Melrose Avenue objected.
After failing to acquire the access road, Beacon applied to Planning and Zoning to get this stipulation removed.
After another lengthy process, the Commission voted 3-2 to approve removing the Melrose access, but replaced it with a Sliney Road access point. That approval requires the acquisition of a deed restriction from the town, which Beacon is once again appealing.
A large part of the funding for the 67-unit project will come from tax credits issued by the state by the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. The request is included in CHFA documents for $26,190,782, or $435,683 per unit.