Housing application filed for former Applegate Farm property
By John Fitts
CANTON - The Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 21 is slated to begin a public hearing related to a development proposal on the former Applegate Farm property on the corner of Lawton and Washburn roads.
Roswell Development has proposed 34 detached units in a Planned Unit Development (detached condominium units) on 11.765 acres of land over five separate parcels.
For years, the property was the location of Applegate Farm - complete with equestrian activities, farming and a popular retail store - started by the late Jean Bouchard and late Pete Bouchard. (Today the Applegate Farm stand is still run by family members at a storefront in Canton Village).
At the time of the application, the property owner is listed as Jean L. Bouchard 2016 Trust, Peter A. Bouchard, trustee.
Roswell Development is seeking permission to amend the town’s zoning regulations and map by creating what is known as a Design District.
"This is a Design District proposal under Section 5 of the 2014 Zoning Regulations. Section 5, Design Districts, was created to allow for the development of an area to be master planned in a manner not presently allowed by zoning," Neil Pade, the town's director of Planning and Community Development wrote in the staff report for the application. "Through the master planning process, new development potential and associated uses, are considered. The process evaluates existing conditions of the area, provides for a general development plan representing how the area may potentially be developed, and provides regulations and standards to allow the concept of the planned development to become realized. However, the process also allows an applicant to submit a completed Site Plan in lieu of a Master Plan."
In their application, developers stated, "The Applegate Village District is intended provide a transition between more intensive commercial development by providing for the development of multiple single family residential homes on a single property at a higher density than permitted in the underlying zone following a master plan that preserves significant areas of open space, conserves the natural resources of the property, and provides landscape buffers along existing streets and adjacent residential properties."
In addition to that zone change, the Canton Commission will hold a public hearing related to a special permit needed for earthwork and grading.
In February of 2022, during a pre-application review for the project, Roswell Development principal Jonathan Vosburgh told the Canton commission that the development would be very similar to Copper Brook in Granby center, which included 32 new units – with no age restrictions - approximately 2,100 to 2,300 square feet in size, many with a farmhouse cape style to keep a low profile. The development has been very popular and such projects, with features such as first-floor master bedrooms, appeal to those downsizing from larger homes, Vosburgh told the commission.
"They want something smaller; they want the first-floor master bedrooms, which is a very big selling point right now,” he said. “It seems to be wherever I go, people are asking for that.”
According to the Granby assessor page, many of the homes in the Copper Brook development sold in the low to mid $400,000 range, between 2018 to 2020.
According to the application, the Canton units will be a mixture of 2- and 3-bedroom homes, each with an attached two-car garage and private driveway. Units will be a maximum of 35 feet high and 2.5 stories.
The application states that existing vegetation along Washburn and Lawton Roads will be "maintained" where possible and new plantings will provide additional buffering. Trees will also be added to other areas of the site, according to the application. Interior sidewalks will also be provided.
The homes will be "expanded Cape Cod and Craftsman style," with a minimum floor area of 1,800 square feet, the application states. Additionally, developers noted that roofs will be pitched with architectural composite shingles, windows will be double hung and siding will be vinyl clapboard of similar materials.
All units will have public water and sewer and the Canton Water Pollution Control Authority has approved expansion of service to the site, according to the application, which also states that Connecticut Water also also confirmed its ability to extend its infrastructure.
Approximately 14,600 cubic yards of material will be removed for the project but no ledge has been found on the property, so blasting is not expected, the application states. Approximately 8 acres will be disturbed in that process, and much of the earthwork could be done in 4 months time, according to the development team.
In February, Canton commission members were generally favorable to the idea of the housing at the Applegate site, which is seen as a transition use between a church and retail and medical facilities on Route 44 and and single family homes to the north.
“I’m really excited to see this kind of housing being contemplated for Canton. I think there’s huge demand for it and not enough of it,” commission member Elizabeth Vinick said in February while noting aspects such as the first-floor bedrooms and smaller lot sizes. “I think it’s a really exciting idea.”
Some commission members, however, expressed the desire for some units that would fall under the state’s affordable housing laws.
At the time, Vosburgh said the size of the development and the cost of the land and utilities and other factors did not lend itself to that.
Assuming all the legal requirements are met, the Canton Planning and Zoning Commission is set to begin a public hearing Dec. 21. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. in Room F of the Canton Community Center, 40 Dyer Ave. Details for tuning in online can be found here
The application materials can be viewed here.
The Valley Press has a message out to Vosburgh in hopes of adding additional information prior to the meeting. Town staff members have also noted they expect additional materials for the application to be filed.
See below for renderings, maps and some of the floor plans related to the application.