An informal presentation was made to the Branford Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night on a potential development on the now vacant St. Elizabeth’s Church site on Burban Avenue.
In 2017, Branford’s three Catholic Churches formed St. Bosco Parish, and eliminated the need for St. Elizabeths. Since then, the site, which includes a rectory, has ben on the market with its future unknown.
Developer Michael Massimino is proposing the project, and he and engineer John Mancini of BL Companies made the presentation to the Commission. An informal presentation is generally made to get some feedback prior to a formal application, about 10 residents from the neighborhood also attended the hearing.
Overall, the plan calls for a combination of apartments and singe family homes in three distinct aspects.
One aspect is the monastery, which will use its unique shape to create 50, 1-bedroom units. The units vary in size between 437 square feet and 845 square feet. 34 of these are on the first level, 16 would be on a second floor.
The second aspect is the creation of two 4-story structures located behind the monastery. The structures would feature parking on the ground level and total 60 units; 36 1-bedroom and 24 2-bedroom.
Finally, the church itself would be torn down and replaced with 55 single family homes. The plan would be to place 9 homes directly on Alps Road, with the intent to match the design with the neighborhood, and the remaining homes on an access road off the main road.
Main concerns raised by the Commission involved the density of homes, the current zoning would allow about a third of what is being proposed.
However, the return on investment aspect was also acknowledged by the Commission. Mancini mentioned that the acquisition cost of the site was about 2.5 million dollars, and the cost is a driving force in what needs to go on the site to show a profit for the developer.
Neighbors raised concerns about the quality of the developer, the density and traffic.
On the current site, a park exists between the monastery and church, the plan would be to leave this in place, and potentially create an easement for the site, leaving it open space.
Preliminary presentations are often some of the most dense, leaving the developer with room to adjust before a formal application. There was no timeline given for when a forma application may come forward.