Home Meeting notice A development was planned on this plot of Bethel. No, it could become an open space.

A development was planned on this plot of Bethel. No, it could become an open space.

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BETHEL – The fate of the vacant lots at 47 Shelley Road – where a controversial residential development was proposed not so long ago – may soon be determined, and the decision will be up to taxpayers.

A special town hall meeting will be held Tuesday night to vote on whether the city can purchase the approximately 7.69-acre property for open space use.

“The idea to purchase the property arose out of a discussion with Planning and Zoning and the owner of the property,†said Bethel town planner Beth Cavanga.

The land is owned by Tim Draper, who sought to build a collective housing complex on the land in 2019 under state law 8-30g, which allows developers to bypass zoning laws – with certain exceptions – if they promise a certain percentage of the building will be affordable housing.

Draper – who used the same status for several projects in the city, including an 18-unit apartment building on Taylor Avenue – said he wanted to provide housing for people who otherwise could not afford to live in Bethel .

According to his Shelley Road plan, which called for the construction of three duplexes and a triplex, 30 percent of the units were to be considered affordable.

Citing road safety, potential well issues, property values ​​and other concerns, residents widely opposed the project.

The Inland Wetlands Commission approved Draper’s plans in May 2020 after going through a lawsuit for previously rejecting them, but the Planning and Zoning Commission rejected them seven months later.

Draper said he would revise the project to address concerns about the floor and the proposed driveway. According to the commission’s denial, the soil was deemed unsuitable for septic systems and the city’s fire marshal found the proposed driveway unsafe for emergency vehicle access.

If voters approve the city’s request to purchase 47 Shelley Road, it will not add open space on the border of the Bethel Franc reserve and the Newtown Forest Association’s Brunot reserve, but will expand the network. of Franc Preserve trails approximately 2.6 miles.

“It would really link Plumtrees Road to Shelley Road,†Cavagna said. “One of the values ​​of (47 Shelley Road) becoming an open space is accessibility from the Franc reserve, which is of great value to the city and is of great benefit to all who use it and live here. “

Draper said Thursday he would agree to sell the land to the city if the vote passes, but will continue to press ahead with his housing development plan if it fails.

The city plans to spend up to $ 500,000 to purchase the land, of which $ 200,000 would come from the Planning and Zoning Open Space Fund and the remainder of the city’s general fund balance.

The funding would be reduced by any grants that the city is able to acquire, according to the notice of the city’s special meeting.

Tuesday’s municipal assembly will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the multipurpose hall of the Clifford J. Hurgin Civic Center.


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