A planning and zoning commission subcommittee is currently looking at changes to the town’s main land-use document after a petition raised concerns about designations for Hunting Lodge Road.
The road is home to three major apartment complexes largely rented to UConn students. Two – Hunting Lodge Apartments and Celeron Square – have been the site of the controversial massive Spring Weekend parties in the past.
The PZC received a petition April 4 asking it to review its plan of conservation and development, last revised in 2006, and its medium/high-density residential development designation for Hunting Lodge Road.
State statutes require towns to have a plan of conservation and development to provide guidance for all land-use decisions and also states towns must update their plans every 10 years.
Mansfield’s 2006 plan’s designation would allow for larger proposals, such as the proposed 156-unit Ponde Place, assuming the plans are able to meet other town and state requirements.
But resident Alison Hilding, who started the petition and brought the issue to the PZC, said she received 255 signatures from residents agreeing with her request for the PZC to re-examine the designation.
Town Planning Director Gregory Padick said state law does not prevent towns from revising plans before the 10-year requirement, but the PZC decided to send the issue to its regulatory review committee to determine the next step.
The petition states that undeveloped land along Hunting Lodge Road should not be targeted for low-density residential development, especially with “more than two decades of significant safety and social problems in this neighborhood, which are a consequence of its already high population.”
The petition also raises concerns about water supply for additional large developments, and notes that there have been problems with wells polluted by UConn’s landfill and chemical that remained uncovered for 13 despite a consent order issued by the CT DEP.
The landfill has since been covered, but some locations in the area had to be connected to UConn’s water supply.
The petition states that other neighbors’ wells “might become compromised” if new community wells are installed to accommodate large-density projects.
Developers for the proposed Ponde Place have had trouble getting state approvals for the project because water tests so far have shown the site cannot support community wells.
PZC member Gregory Lewis, though, said the plan of conservation and development is only “advisory” and that potential developers have to show their projects would result in no significant impact.
PZC member Joann Goodwin agreed, saying “planning should not be done on an ad-hoc basis” when residents in a specific area raise concerns.
But they also agreed with other commission members to send the issue to the regulatory review committee.
PZC colleagues said they want the committee to consider a process for reviewing potential changes in the future.
“A plan that is written should not be written in concrete,” PZC member Peter Plante said.
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