Safety concerns surrounding the Cornwall Avenue extension were the topic of discussion at Monday evening’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, as commissioners and members of the public continue to discuss the phase two proposal for Clearview Farm Preserve LLC subdivision.
The subdivision, which has been a source of controversy for several years after an original plan to develop 21 units on property off of Cornwall Avenue near Mountain Road was derailed in 2016 after an illegal dumpsite was discovered. Clearview returned in 2017 with a scaled back version of the plan, which was eventually approved by the PZC.
As that construction continues, the developer recently appeared before the PZC to request permission to move ahead with a second phase of the project, which would include six additional homes located on Cornwall Ave. Extension.
The evening began with two letters being read into the record; from Commissioner’s Gil Linder and Robert Brucato, neither of whom were able to attend the meeting.
“… The existing town road — Cornwall Ave extension — that will serve the existing homes on it, and the additional homes proposed by the applicant is not up to standards,” he wrote. “It is 14 to 18 feet in width, compared to the standard 30 feet, (and) there are no curbs or sidewalks. Utility poles and mature trees encroach on the road. There is barely enough room for two-way traffic. This is possibly the worst road in Cheshire.”
Linder’s letter went on to express his belief that the commission is in a difficult position, with only a handful of possible solutions available.
“As we know, this application is about a subdivision on an existing town road… We cannot require the developer to make offsite improvements to the road in order to gain approval of this application. We also cannot require the Town to bring the road up to standards, which is what would be required to approve this application. We can either approve this application, knowing that the road is unsafe, or deny the application contingent on a commitment by the Town to improve the road. The second approach is not within our power…”
Linder’s suggestion is to write a letter to the Town Manager and Chairman of the Town Council requesting the inclusion of road improvements to Cornwall Ave. extension in the next Capital Budget.
Brucato’s letter echoed Commissioner Linder’s safety concerns, but also pointed out problems with resubdividing the land given a possible zoning change.
“My conclusion is that the request to change the zoning would only make the area ‘undesirable’ if we need to subdivide the property again…” he wrote. “If the Commission grants the rezoning, I ask that a clause be added to the deed, if allowable, stating that the lot could not be subdivided in the future”.
Dave Sullivan, a representative from the engineering firm Milone and MacBroom, performed a traffic study on Cornwall Avenue extension, and sought to address the concerns raised about the road.
“According to our classification system, we would qualify Cornwall Avenue extension as a ‘rural, minor access road,’ which means that there are less than 400 cars on that road in a given day,” Sullivan explained. “While the road is narrow at points, there have been no accidents on that road since 2003, and if there are two cars on that road, the recommendation is that one car would have to move to the shoulder to allow the other to pass… We believe the road is functioning safely.”
Commissioner Sean Strollo was the only one of his colleagues to suggest that the size of the road was not a negative.
“I really don’t see an issue with that being a little road,” Strollo added. “I think the size of it may actually be a plus for people who don’t want others speeding by their houses.”
The public hearing was held open until the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on March 9 in the Town Council Chambers.