Developer scales back size of proposed Simsbury complex
By Paul Palmer
SIMSBURY – The developer looking to build an affordable housing unit on Hopmeadow Street has scaled down the size of the project and reduced the number of parking spaces. Vessel Technologies told the Inland/Wetlands Commission that its new plan calls for 64 units – down from 80 – a reduction of 20%. The changes bring the building further away from the southern boundary and take away 2 bays of parking spots on the northern edge of the site. “ We heard what was said and we tried to be responsive,” Vessel Vice President Josh Levy said on April 4.
During the long process of approvals, several town commissions have raised concerns with the size of the project. Additionally, there have been concerns about the number of parking spaces being built. Zoning Commission members have repeatedly argued there is not enough parking, while Inland/Wetlands members want fewer spaces. Peter Alter, the lawyer representing Vessel, has told both that they believe based on their research that the number of parking spots will be adequate.
Neighbors living in the nearby Hazelmeadow area have led the opposition to the plan raising concerns about the impact on a nearby wetland – Second Brook – traffic, and their properties from any water runoff.
“We show up because we believe Second Brook is worth protecting,” Kathryn Godiksen of Nutmeg Court said. “The overall landscape will forever be changed and not in a good way.” One of their most often repeated concerns is that storm water runoff from the project and its parking lot will cause flooding in the wetlands that will eventually flood their homes.
Alter and project engineer Seamus Moran reiterated to both commissions that the system they are using is designed to reduce any runoff and will filter any collected water, releasing much of it into the subsoil. A substantial amount of the water collected will be infiltrated into the ground and not sent over the wetlands towards Second Brook.” Moran added that the system they will use reduces the flow of storm water runoff. “The peak rates for the 2,5,10,25 and 100-year flood storm runoffs will be cut in half with this project.”
Alter also told the commission that many of those arguing against the project citing past flooding events in the area are actually living in a FEMA designated flood zone.
“This has nothing to do with this development or any other development. We’ve given you our best scientists to indicate that this plan has no impact on the wetlands to the north. There is no impact except by supposition by people that are frankly not experts.”
The Inland/Wetlands Commission closed the public hearing and now has 35 days to issue its decision on the project. They are scheduled to meet again on April 18 to discuss and possibly act on the Vessel proposal.