Redding Zoning Commission
Public Hearing and Regular Meeting Minutes
January 23, 2019 – 7:30 p.m.
Town Hall Hearing Room
100 Hill Road, Redding, Connecticut
Present: Gerry Casiello, Chairman; Matt Lecher, Vice Chairman; Amy Atamian, Secretary; Commissioner Ted Ogonek; Commissioner Paul Scholl.
Also Present: Aimee Pardee, Zoning Officer; Members of the Public.
The Chairman noted that all regular members of the Commission were present and seated. On the motion of Mr. Ogonek and the second of Ms. Atamian, the Commission voted unanimously to continue hearing 18-22Z at 7:35 p.m.
PUBLIC HEARING: Application #18-22Z – 39 Orchard Drive (Assessor’s Map #37 & Lot #40) Deborah and Peter Mygatt – Request for a Special Use Permit, in accordance with Redding Regulations Sections 4.2.3 (b) and 5.1, to use an existing building to conduct church services. Received December 12, 2018: Public Hearing Opened January 9, 2019. Continuation from January 9, 2019 Public Hearing.
The Chairman explained that review of this application by counsel found that the building that is proposed to be used as a church does not meet the setbacks specified in Section 5.1.4 of the regulations. He read correspondence from the applicant stating that they are working on resolving this issue and ask that the hearing be continued to February 13, 2019.
Several members of the public made comments and asked questions.
Tom Kelly, of 58 Orchard Drive, expressed concern that traffic would lower the property values of the homes on the street. Clemens Taeuber, of 55 Orchard Drive, asked how residents could prove to the Commission that there would be an impact to property values. The Chairman said that they could provide expert testimony at the hearing.
Mike Lyons, of 22 Orchard Drive, noted that he had given the Commission a petition against the application with over 100 signatures; he stated that he felt this should demonstrate that many consider the use to not be in harmony with the residential area. He also asked about renters on the property and if there could be multiple uses for the property. Ms. Pardee clarified that the applicant owns two properties that are next to each other, and the renters are on the property that is not the subject of this application.
Mike D’Agostino, of 18 Glen Hill Road, thanked the Commission for their time, then raised concern about the structure being proposed to be used as a church. He asked if the building will need to be brought into compliance with the Building Code. The Chairman stated that the Commission does not have jurisdiction over Building Code. Mr. D’Agostino asked if the clarification as to if the Commission makes sure the Building Department and Fire Marshall approve the building use before the Commission will issue a permit. The Chairman noted that the Health Department has approved the use and that the building will need to meet Building Code and Fire Codes.
Mark Zaia, of 12 Charlie Hill Road, stated that he is from Garden City, Long Island; he said that a church in his old neighborhood had caused considerable problems as the congregation grew and more events were held at the property. He noted traffic issues, the presence of more people who were not known to the residents, and property damage.
Noel Wilford, of 11 Lee Lane, asked if the setback issues with the building related to all or a single property line; the Chairman replied that it was one side property line. She also asked if the building could be rented to other churches; the Chairman said that they could put conditions on the permit.
Jodi Costenbader, of 68 Orchard Drive, asked for clarification regarding what the regulations mean when they say a use must be in harmony with adjacent areas. This resulted in a lively discussion with multiple attendees and the Chairman with a consensus from the attendees that they would prefer to not have the church allowed instead of allowing the church with multiple conditions on the permit.
Mike Lyons, of 22 Orchard Drive, read a letter into the record from his wife, Jennifer.
Richard Gianicchi, of 69 Orchard Drive, asked if the Mygatts are allowed to continue holding services in the building under consideration. The Chairman said that they are not, and to report it to the Zoning Office if they are still being held. He noted that nothing prevents the applicant from having bible study meetings in their home.
Roger Vanausdal asked about the process of appealing a decision by the Commission. Ms. Pardee stated that the appeal process is through the courts. The Chairman added that the appeal must be filed within 15 days of the decision.
George Heinemann, of 11 Lee Lane, asked about the history of the buildings on the property. The Chairman stated that the building that is the subject of the application pre-dates zoning in Redding.
Steven Montano, of 38 Glen Hill Road, asked if, besides the setback issue, any other aspects of the application had been found to be non-compliant with the regulations. The Chairman said that the setback issue is what has been found so far; he further stated that the application had been referred to Town Counsel in order to insure that applying Section 5.1.4 of the regulations was not in conflict with The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”).
Mike D’Agostino spoke again; he stated that he understands that RLUIPA is an anti-discrimination law and noted that the objections raised do not have to do with religion. He mentioned that the website for the congregation that meets at 39 Orchard Drive suggests that the public is welcome to services and suggested that the congregation could grow significantly.
Clemens Taueber asked if the neighbors could present a list of conditions of approval to the Commission; the Chairman said they would accept any correspondence. Several neighbors spoke up, objecting to any approval.
Evan Bassett, of 27 Orchard Drive, noted the No Trespassing sign that is at the end of the driveway to 39 Orchard Drive and he asked if the owners were not running a church, but were instead operating a social club. The Chairman noted that the application before them is for a church.
Hearing no further questions or comments, Ms. Atamian made a motion to continue the hearing to February 13, 2019. Mr. Ogonek seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously.
The Chairman called the regular meeting to order, noting that all regular members of the Commission were present and seated.
1. Approval of Minutes: Public Hearing and Regular Meeting Minutes of January 9, 2019.
On the motion of Mr. Lecher and the second of Ms. Atamian, the Commission voted unanimously to accept the minutes of the January 9, 2019 meeting as written.
2. Application #18-22Z – 39 Orchard Drive (Assessor’s Map #37 & Lot #40) Deborah and Peter Mygatt – Request for a Special Use Permit, in accordance with Sections 4.2.3 (b) and 5.1, to use an existing building to conduct church services. If public hearing is closed, for discussion/action.
The Chairman noted that this discussion is tabled pending the completion of the public hearing.
3. Application #19-1Z – 65 Hopewell Woods Road (Assessor’s Map #9 & Lot #20) – Robert & Nicole A. Denkin – Request for a Special Use Permit for an accessory apartment in accordance with Section 5.12 of the Redding Zoning Regulations. To receive; set public hearing date.
After a brief review of the application, Ms. Atamian made a motion to accept the application and set the public hearing date for February 27, 2019. Mr. Ogonek seconded the motion and it was carried unanimously.
Georgetown Village Group: request to discuss 8 Main Street and Georgetown parking.
Ralph Bosch stated that there had been a meeting of Georgetown business owners during which questions were raised regarding the work being done at 8 Main Street. He said that he had spoken to Ms. Pardee and she had said that the renovation work had been approved administratively as there was no change proposed in either the number of bedrooms in the building, nor was a change in the footprint proposed. He expressed concern regarding the approval process.
Sam Nickerson, the property owner, offered to review the project with the Commission and meeting attendees. He stated that he had bought the property in a 2014 foreclosure and that it was in poor condition at that time. He is currently renovating the building and bringing it up to current code. He said that the second and third floor had been a mix of apartments, and “habitation units” of a rooming house type configuration. In working to renovate the building, it was found that the original structure was, in some places, built directly on the ground and out of salvaged materials. In order to rebuild, the hillside behind the building had to be dug out and stabilized to allow access. He stated that the building will be brought up to code and sprinklers will be installed. He noted that the building renovation is a considerable investment and he hopes the completed project will benefit Georgetown.
James Baulsir, who operates Redding Beer Company at 7 Main Street, asked Mr. Nickerson where he lives. He also asked about the fence that has been installed in the public right of way in front of 8 Main Street. Mr. Nickerson stated that there had been concerns about trespass once the renovation began, and also that the Building Department required the fence be installed during demolition work. Mr. Baulsir questioned why the fence is still present and who gave permission for the fence to remain in place. Mr. Nickerson said that the fence is needed for safety due to the presence of equipment and stockpiled construction materials.
The Chairman noted that the fence in the street is not a zoning issue. Mr. Baulsir went on to discuss the parking issues in Georgetown. Mr. Bosch also spoke regarding the fence, and also the earth moving behind 8 Main Street; he asked why no site plan had been filed with the Commission. The Chairman stated that the property contained a pre-existing use, and that earth moving can be done in association with a Zoning Permit. Elio Cavicchia, owner of The Black Cat restaurant at 60 Redding Road, asked why he had to file a site plan for earth moving when he built his restaurant. The Chairman noted that, at the time, Mr. Cavicchia was applying for a new building and use.
The discussion of Georgetown parking continued. The Chairman reviewed the history of the attempts to solve the parking issue. He noted that the Zoning Regulations were amended ten years ago to allow businesses some relief from parking requirements but that the plan at the time was never fully implemented because no other place to park had been found. He suggested that the business owners speak to the Planning Commission about re-starting the discussion regarding parking.
5. Future Agenda Items
The Chairman noted the two upcoming hearings.
There was no discussion under this agenda item.
On the motion of Mr. Lecher and the second of Ms. Atamian, the Commission voted unanimously to adjourn at 8:50 p.m.