Newtown rejects plans for 27 apartments in historic South Main, Brookfield developer pledges to try again


NEWTOWN — A plan by a Brookfield developer to convert a single-family home on historic South Main Street to a 27-unit apartment building that drew objections from neighbors was rejected by the land use commission of Newtown.

Robert Sherwood, the developer of the 1.6-acre residential plot, said on Monday it was too early to reveal his next plan for the property, which sits between a sprawl of Victorian and Colonial homes to the north and commercial buildings to the north. South. .

“We’re going to do something, yes,” said Sherwood, a landscape architect at Brookfield. “I do not know what it is.”

Sherwood was reacting to a unanimous vote last week by Newtown’s five-member Planning and Zoning Commission to reject his proposal for a three-story apartment building with 50 parking spaces that would cover 70% of the property.

The reason: The apartment building just wouldn’t “fit” so close to the historic South Main Street neighborhood, according to Planning Commission Chairman Dennis Bloom.

Another member of the commission, Gregory Rich, agreed, noting that opposition from neighbors had an “impact”.

At a public hearing in December, seven neighbors agreed, saying “there’s nothing good here” about Sherwood’s plans because “the building would bring in very high density school-age children (and ) who could potentially live in the apartments”, and “there is traffic jam everywhere you go in town.

Sherwood responded that his plans to demolish the house, detached garage and collapsed barn on the property, and protect the new building with 10ft evergreens, would ensure a transition from the historic district to the commercial part of South Main Street immediately. to the south, where uses include the former Amaral Motors dealership, a fabric store, mall, restaurant, and Walgreens.

Newtown’s top planner echoed that perspective ahead of the land use commission’s vote on January 20.

“[T]here there have been requests for commercial development like an auto parts store in the past,” said Newtown planning director George Benson. “So looking at alternatives like something like this (apartment building) might be a good choice.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s rejection of Sherwood’s plans came two weeks after Sherwood drew the line in a battle with Newtown’s Design Advisory Board to get the proposed building the right historic look.

Sherwood was generally ok with suggestions for facade modifications until a request came from the chairman of the design committee to cover the exterior of the proposed apartment building in red brick to mimic the Federal style of the beloved state hospital buildings on the Fairfield Hills campus.

Sherwood replied that he was not going to do that.

“I just thought it wasn’t appropriate, so I said ‘no,'” Sherwood said Monday of his final appearance before the design committee. “I liked the look of our building. It had beautiful architectural details and residential style and amenities.

Ultimately, the Planning and Zoning Commission was “concerned with the overall size of the building,” Sherwood said.

Sherwood wouldn’t say how soon he might be back in front of town with revised plans.

“We’re looking to see how we can change the building, maybe on a smaller scale, and make it work,” Sherwood said. 203-731-3342

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