Following a public hearing held at their last meeting, the Brookfield Zoning Commission took a different tack at their July 22 meeting and approved amending the Town Center District (TCD) regulations to allow for 50-foot buildings, rather than specify the number of stories. The Commission will discuss a maximum story limit at their next meeting on August 12.
Zoning had been waiting to hear from the Planning Commission before make a decision on whether to increase the number of allowed stories from two to three. In their response, Planning encouraged them to consider the towns of Ridgefield and Bethel as examples of regulations that have maintained the New England feel. Bethel and Ridgefield both have 40-foot maximums and Bethel has the added provision of only allowing three stories.
A letter from the Economic Development Commission (EDC) suggested 50 feet, as retailers have been requesting higher ceilings, but suggested that four stories be the maximum for now. "If we go with the higher number, we have a competitive advantage over other towns," EDC Chairman Hal Kurfehs said.
With a 13-foot ceiling on the first floor and three 10-foot residential stories above, 50 feet would leave an addition seven feet for a gabled roof. (The total height of a structure is measured from the ground to halfway between the top-floor ceiling and the roofline; antennae, cupolas and chimneys are not included in the calculation.)
The EDC's letter also noted that Danbury's Central District sets maximum building height at 55 feet, with a five-story limit in the historic district and 10-story outside.
The 50-foot height regulation already has precedence according to Zoning Enforcement Officer Bill Schappert, as that is the standard in the town's industrial zones and allowed for certain uses in commercial districts. Voting alternate member Richard Amorossi noted that a 50-foot building would be serviceable with the Fire Department's 100-foot ladder.
"I would highly encourage the 50-foot, four-story limitation," First Selectman Bill Davidson, who was in attendance, added to the discussion, "because what from what I can read, determine and observe it gives high-end developers exactly what they need."
The amendment was passed unanimously by the four members present that evening: Chairman Stanley Parker, Fred Weisman, William Mercer and Amorossi.
Legal counsel Peter Olsen suggested that the Zoning Commission draft specific language regarding their definition of drive-thrus. The Commission voted to continue their discussion to next Thursday, when they will have the opportunity to work on the language with the Planning Commission during a joint session.
The Commission also continued a discussion on adding drive-thrus to the list of allowed uses in commercial and industrial zones. Mercer stated that he wanted "to look at how it will affect existing structures in town," which Weisman agreed with. Schappert compiled a list of all businesses with drive-thrus for the members to consider [included].
A hearing was set for Thursday, August 26, for the Commission to take comments on an application to change 10 Whisconier Road from a single to multi-family dwelling. The applicant is constructing a live-in apartment above their garage.
Candlewood Inn was given approval to add four parking spaces near their administrative building for employees and prospective customers during an event, when the regular parking lot is full.
- The Sunoco Station at 30 Federal Road is planning to build a convenience store, however they would need a variance from the handicap-parking requirement to allow for three spaces and one handicap space (versus two and two to meet the requirement). The Commission told the applicant to try to find room for a fifth space to allow for two handicap spaces, if possible, before they would approve it. It one cannot be fit into the site-plan, the Commission will reconsider the request.