A revised building project has been approved by the Brookfield Zoning Commission. On Thursday, the group signed off on the new Renaissance housing development in the Four Corners area. The developer initially submitted a controversial plan for a six story building, with no retail space. Public safety and other concerns were raised, prompting the negotiations.
The alternate plan calls for two three-story buildings, with commercial space on the ground level. The alternate plan includes 120 units as opposed to the 156 units proposed in the original plan. A pedestrian bridge would connect the two buildings. The developer's attorney, Chris Smith, says that was done in order for residents in the second, smaller building to have access to the amenities located in the larger building.
The Brookfield Zoning Commission did put some conditions on their unanimous approval. One condition is that the developer designate areas for commercial development, complete a lighting plan and set aside 10-percent of the units as affordable workforce housing.
Smith previously said the amended application is no longer affordable or incentive housing because there are fewer units being proposed. If the alternate proposal had been rejected, the developer could have forced their original six-story plan on the town. Since it was an 8-30g housing project, local zoning decisions would have been overridden.
30-percent of the units would have been setaside as affordable under the original plan. The only way to fight that would have been for Brookfield officials to show health and safety issues. Brookfield Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief Andrew Ellis reiterated that there would need to be a significant amount of training, possibly new equipment purchased and concerns of putting unpaid volunteers in an extraordinary situation.
Attorney Neil Marcus, who is representing the town, said density is not a public safety issue.
Some Zoning Commission members, including Secretary Mara Frankel, raised concerns with the small size of the proposed studio apartments and the overall density of the plan. Commission chair Ryan Blessey said in perfect world wouldn't ask for this, but he would absolutely accept it at this point.
Blessey said their decision reflects Brookfield's willingness to deal with difficult properties. He said this Federal Road property has been in a sad state for a number of years. It is a challenge, not only in the marketplace, but physically. The commercial highway in front of it has been vacated, for a lack of a better word, in recent years. It's in close proximity to the Still River, which has substantial issues and on the third of four sides, there are high tension wires.
Blessey says they worked hard with applicant to come up with a palatable compromise.
Marcus pointed out that if everyone is happy when they walk away from negotiations, it's not a compromise.