Developer seeks Stratford approval for 129 apartments on Hawley Lane


STRATFORD — The New Jersey-based development company behind Merritt 8 Corporate Park aims to build a 129-unit apartment complex on the same site.

Mountain Development Corporation is seeking city approval to construct the four-story building on largely undeveloped land off Hawley Lane, according to an application submitted to the city.

Site plans show the company plans to build the 110,000 square foot apartment complex, which will also include a community building and swimming pool, east of the existing office park and south of the Big Y supermarket.

“The upside-down (downward) U-shaped building will be directly accessible from the existing driveway off Hawley Lane,” Christopher Russo, a lawyer representing Mountain Development, wrote in a letter to city officials. .

In addition to the apartment building, the complex would include a 2,550 square foot community building and an outdoor pool for residents. The building would be surrounded on three sides by more than 300 parking spaces.

The application is currently before the Stratford Inland Wetlands Commission, a seven-member board responsible for determining whether construction projects comply with local environmental regulations.

Mountain Development needs commission approval because the property in question, a large strip of land that spans more than 30 acres, contains several acres of wetlands at the south end of the site.

“It is important to note that no wetlands will be disturbed by this application,” Russo wrote, adding that no part of the building will be within 50 feet of wetlands.

Kelly Kerrigan, Stratford’s environmental conservation superintendent, said the commission could vote on the application as early as Wednesday. If approved, the proposal would then be forwarded to the zoning commission.

Along with the main proposal, Mountain Development also submitted an alternate site plan that would divide the apartment complex into two individual buildings of 95 units each.

The plan was submitted to highlight an alternative development, but Russo wrote that the developers preferred the original because the alternative would increase the “overall clutter” of the structures and require builders to duplicate services in each building.

The application was filed under the state’s 8-30g law, which allows developers to circumvent local zoning laws and regulations if at least 30% of the units in the project are set aside for affordable housing.

Municipalities can only deny requests for 8 to 30 g if the project would cause a significant health or safety issue. Developers, meanwhile, can only take advantage of the law if less than 10% of a municipality’s housing is designated by deed as affordable.

As of 2020, Stratford has 1,347 affordable housing units, or 6.4% of the total housing stock, according to the Connecticut Data Collaborative, a Hartford-based nonprofit that analyzes public data.

The project has already received backlash from some residents concerned about a potential increase in traffic, loss of open space, and the impact of construction on local wildlife and vegetation.

According to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the area is home to the eastern box turtle, an animal listed as a species of special concern due to its declining population.

An online petition urging the developer to sell the property to a land trust instead of building on the site garnered more than 570 signatures on Monday.

“The development would not only destroy wildlife, but also flood the space with bright artificial lighting that is bad for migrating birds and nocturnal pollinators,” the petition organizer wrote.

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