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Minutes of Zoning Commission, 07/28/2021

AGENDA: Zoning Commission

RECEIVED 08/02/2021 8:30am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Redding Zoning Commission
Regular Meeting Minutes
July 28, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.

Present: Matthew Lecher, Chairman; Amy Atamian, Secretary; Commissioner William Whitehead; Alternate Diana Carlino-Coffey.

Also Present: Julia Pemberton, First Selectman; Aimee Pardee, Zoning Officer; Christopher Parkin, Chairman, Redding Board of Education; Applicants.

Mr. Lecher called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m. seating Ms. Carlino-Coffey for the open seat on the commission.

1. Approval of Regular Meeting Minutes of July 14, 2021.

On the motion of Mr. Whitehead, and the second of Ms. Atamian, the commission voted by majority to accept the minutes of July 14, 2021 as written; Ms. Carlino-Coffey abstained from the vote as she was not present at the meeting.

2. Application #21-07Z – 241 Ethan Allan Highway (Assessor’s Map and Lot 35 – 63): Owner Dominick A. Pagano – Agent: Andy Soumelidis P.E./Landtech. In accordance with Redding Zoning Regulations Section 5.2 request for a Site Plan approval for renovation of and addition to existing building. Received 6/9/21 – (note 65 days – 8/12)

The Chairman noted that the applicant’s engineer had requested that discussion of this application be tabled until the August 11, 2021 meeting in order for the applicant to address comments raised by the town’s engineering consultant, Todd Ritchie, P.E. The Chairman asked Ms. Pardee if the extension of discussion would be within the time frame of consideration allowed by the state statues; Ms. Pardee stated that August 11, 2021 is within the allowed 65 days for consideration of an application; she also noted that the applicant’s engineer had expressed a willingness to grant the commission an extension to the deadline in the event that discussion needed to be extended into September.

3. Application #21-10Z – 486 Redding Road (Assessor’s Map and Lot 21 – 95) Owner Town of Redding/John Read Middle School – Agents Tom Quinn P.E. and Darrell Bradford. In accordance with Redding Zoning Regulations Section 5.2 request for a Site Plan Amendment for construction of open-air pavilion (roof is 12’x18’) with concrete block seating arranged in amphitheater-style on the slope to seat approx. 50 students.

The Chairman briefly introduced the application. Darrell Bradford, Co-Chairman of the John Read Middle School (JRMS) PTA then spoke regarding the proposed project. Mr. Bradford noted that he has been authorized by the Town and also the Board of Education to speak to the commission regarding the project. He stated that the JRMS PTA hopes to build an outdoor classroom environment south of the existing developed school campus at JRMS. He said that the outdoor classroom will consist of a small pavilion, and five rows of concrete block benches, that will accommodate a teacher and approximately fifty students for seasonal use. He further explained that, although the project had been under discussion for two years, the conditions of the Coronavirus Pandemic had advanced the idea of the project. Mr. Bradford said that the project would be funded by the PTA without taxpayer funds. He also asked the commission if the application could be considered under 5.1.6 which allows a modification of a Special Use Permit without holding a public hearing.

Ms. Pardee clarified the regulations as they relate to this application. She stated that 5.1.6 does not apply to the current application as there is no change to the Special Permit, which relates to the use of the property as a school. She said that the change being considered is to the plan for the development of the land on site, which falls under Section 5.2.3: Review of Site Plans.

Mr. Lecher noted that 5.2.3 of the Zoning Regulations requires that the commission hold a public hearing in the event that a new building is proposed; he further noted that, during a meeting in January of 2021, the commission had determined that a pavilion is a building by definition. Mr. Bradford noted that the pavilion discussed at that time was much larger than the pavilion currently proposed. Ms. Pemberton questioned the idea of the pavilion providing shelter given its size and suggestion that the proposed pavilion did not fall under the definition of “building:; Mr. Parkin also spoke to the definition of “building” in the Zoning Regulations, noting that the intent of having the pavilion is not for storage, housing, or enclosure.

The commission discussed the definition of “building” as it related to Section 5.2.3 (a) of the Zoning Regulations. Mr. Whitehead also asked if the commission should consider a public hearing under Section 5.2.3 (b). Mr. Bradford noted that multiple public meetings had been held regarding the proposed outdoor learning area; Ms. Carlino-Coffey expressed concern that those meetings did not specifically notify neighbors as to the site plan change.

After further consideration, Ms. Atamian moved that the commission hold a Public Hearing regarding application 21-01Z on September 8, 2021. Mr. Whitehead seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously.

The commission further discussed waiving fees associated with this application. They noted that they cannot waive fees that must be paid to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, nor do they have the ability to waive reimbursement of costs that the town incurs for the processing of the application.

On the motion of Ms. Atamian, and the second of Mr. Whitehead, the commission voted unanimously to waive the Zoning Commission Application Fee for this application.

The applicant asked the commission if there were other concerns that they might want addressed at the public hearing. Mr. Lecher asked about the access from the cafeteria of the school to the path to the pavilion; he expressed concern that there is a parking lot island in that path and asked about ADA accessibility. The project engineer, Tom Quinn, P.E., said that there are two options under consideration: a ramp over the parking lot island, and a cut through the parking lot island that would eliminate one parking space. The Chairman asked to see that plan at the hearing. He also asked about lighting; Mr. Quinn stated that he would provide information about possible bollard lighting for the project.

4. Discussion

Ms. Pardee noted that she hopes to report to the commission regarding proposed regulations in response to the newly approved state cannabis statutes: she said that she is attending a seminar sponsored by the CT APA and CAZEO regarding implementation of the law.

Ms. Pemberton spoke regarding the status of the former Gilbert and Bennett property. She said that the town has received the contract with the state for a $200,000 grant to commence the Phase I assessment of the property; she said she will hold a special Board of Selectman meeting to sign the contract, and will then work on obtaining the contractor for the Phase I work. She added a note that, although there is additional remediation money available from the state, she had been advised by the state to not apply for that money until the assessment process is further along.

5. Future Agenda Items
August 11, 2021: Public Hearing re: Application #21-08Z – 5 Umpawaug Road – Special Permit and Site Plan Approval.

6. Communication

There was no discussion under this agenda item.

7. Adjournment

On the motion of Ms. Carlino-Coffey, and the second of Ms. Atamian, the commission voted unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 8:15 p.m.

Submitted by: Aimee Pardee