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Simsbury Zoning Commission to consider draft settlement with Vessel

Agreement would involve fewer apartment units and parking spaces, reduced height, aesthetic changes, more buffering and conservation easement


By John Fitts

Staff Writer


SIMSBURY - On Feb. 21, the Simsbury Zoning Commission will consider a draft settlement in relation to a proposed Hopmeadow Street apartment complex it denied last year.

Specifically, in May of 2023, the commission denied a revised site plan by Vessel Technologies for a project at 446 Hopmeadow that involved 64 rental units with 102 parking spaces, 29 to be reserved for possible future construction. (The original application proposed 80 units). A portion of the units were to be set aside under the state’s affordable housing statutes. The project proposal drew intense opposition from neighbors, who noted concerns such as traffic and environmental impact. In its denial, the commission sighted a health and safety risk to area residents, particularly over parking.

The company subsequently appealed the decision to Hartford Superior Court and under the appeals process for projects that fall under the state's 8-30g statute in towns with less than 10 percent of its housing stock deemed affordable, municipalities have a very limited basis for denial and assume the burden of proof. However, between September 2023 and January of 2024, attorneys for the parties conducted settlement negotiations, and the Zoning Commission has conducted several noticed executive sessions about the case, according to the proposed settlement. An agreement in principle was reached in January, with the commission agreeing on Jan. 30 to present the proposed settlement at a future meeting, the document states.

According to the proposed settlement, the density of the units would be reduced from 64 to 48 with height being reduced from four stories to three and parking reduced to 80 total spaces – 20 being held in reserve for future use if needed. Areas where the parking was reduced will be used for additional buffering under the settlement.

The settlement includes changes to the building’s color palette as well, adding brown earth tones to what had been a white building.

The agreement also includes a conservation easement of a portion of the property between the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and the Farmington River.

The zoning commission would need a simple majority vote to accept the terms, officials said.

Even if an agreement is finalized, however, Vessel would still have some further issues to clear up as an Inland Wetlands case – filed by a local resident – is also still pending.

 

The Valley Press has reached out to some of the parties involved in this potential agreement and will update this story as calls are returned.  

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