Berlin has turned down a developer’s plan for 106 apartments and new retail along the Berlin Turnpike.
A developer using the name 550-554 Berlin Turnpike Associates proposed the project for the western side of the turnpike just north of Woodlawn Road, but the Planning and Zoning Commission concluded the idea didn’t meet Berlin’s long-term plan of development.
It was the second time in the past six month that a housing proposal along the Berlin Turnpike was rebuffed by the commission. Cromwell-based Little House Living LLC’s plan to put up 19 rental homes on a small Berlin Turnpike was rejected in November.
When attorney Tim Sullivan presented 550-554 Berlin Turnpike Associates’ plan last year, he said it met the goal of the town plan by bringing both residential and commercial development to the turnpike.
“The town plan identifies this as a housing corridor,” he told commissioners.
The proposal was to construct three residential buildings on a 21-acre property that’s mostly undeveloped now. Notably, it would have brought new affordable housing to town, a development that Berlin has said it wants.
The developer planned two four-story buildings and one three-story building, with a total of 74 market-rate apartments and 32 units meeting the state standard to qualify as “affordable.”
The plan included a community center, dog run, a sidewalk to connect to the Berlin Turnpike, and parking for 188 cars for the apartments.
More than two dozen additional parking spaces were proposed for a new retail building that also was part of the plan.
Brian Miller, a consultant for the developer, told commissioners that based on a statewide median family income of $112,600, the plan was to cap rents on some apartments to affordable housing limits.
Sixteen apartments would be priced at levels considered affordable for families making 60 percent of that median income; that would equate to rents of $924 for a one-bedroom, with the tenant also covering $130 in utilities. For a two-bedroom unit, the cap would be $1,127 in rent, with the tenant paying another $175 for electricity and heat.
Another 16 apartments would be targeted to people making up to 80 percent of the median family income. That would mean rents capped at $1,087 for a one-bedroom and $1,387 for a two-bedroom, with tenants paying utilities of another $130 and $175, respectively, according to Miller, principal of the Wallingford-based Miller Planning Group.
The developer promised that affordable units would be mixed in with market rate units in each of the three buildings.
Traffic consultant Mark Vertucci of Fuss & O’Neill told the commissioners that the project would not be a hazard to Berlin Turnpike motorists.
But commissioners voted 4-2 against granting a zoning map amendment that the proposal required, and voted 5-1 against approving a site plan or special permit. Commissioner Brian Rogan said part of the reason is that the proposal didn’t achieve the Berlin Turnpike Development district, which is intended to foster new housing near commercial development along the turnpike.
In November, commissioners rejected Little House Living LLC’s plan for 19 rental houses on the site of a defunct motel along the turnpike. At the time, several commissioners said that after making its initial proposal, the company had added duplexes and done away with a planned community center. They said the plan did not meet Berlin’s long-term development plan.
Town officials have said they are eager to encourage companies to redevelop older, deteriorated properties along the turnpike.