By SHERIDAN CYR
A public hearing will be held during the Planning and Zoning Commission regular meeting on Aug. 21 at 7 p.m. regarding a petition to add a new zoning district to the town’s code for elderly group housing.
The applicant, Kratzert, Jones & Associates, Inc., is proposing a regulation framework to allow “higher density, in-fill, elderly housing,” according to Robert Phillips, director of planning and community development in the planning and zoning department. Since it is proposed to be a floating zone, it can “land,” he said, in various locations as long as the requirements are met.
The official documentation filed by the applicant cites 2012 studies by the U.S. Census Bureau that supports a demographic shift in the Southington community. By 2060, the studies predict that the 65-and-older age group will grow from 15 percent of the population to 24 percent. “The proposed amendment offers regulations to serve this growing segment of the community,” the application states.
Currently, the regulations include information about a Housing Opportunity District (HOD). The amendment would include to that an Elderly Housing Opportunity District (EHOD) in the language. The new language, if adopted, would state that the HOD and EHOD are a class of districts that may be established by the PZC and delineated or the zoning map upon petition by the owner of the property or by any person duly authorized by said owner.
The purpose of the EHOD is to “acknowledge the growth of elderly residents in the community due to the demographic shifts in population.” It is also to “recognize that this elderly population desires housing alternatives including age restricted neighborhoods that can be small or large and of diverse development types,” according to the documentation.
The applicant suggests the land owner or developer will have the flexibility to undertake EHOD developments that are economically beneficial to the town and address market demand.
According to the applicant, the intent is to encourage EHOD developments of various sizes and at various locations that meet the requirements of these regulations. Ideal EHOD sites will act as a transition between areas of existing intense commercial or residential development and areas of less intense development.
“The public hearing will open on Aug. 21, and may be continued to gather more information at the commission’s request, or closed,” said Phillips. “Once the hearing is closed, no new testimony can be submitted by anyone or further public comment on the item.”
Phillips said the commission will hear any comment about the application during the public hearing. The commission will vote at that time to either approve, deny, or table the matter. Staff (town officials, not the elected board members) may advise the commission accordingly on procedure or other factual matters.
“A decision can be made [by the commission] that evening after the closing, or within 65 days. It could be extended another 65 days if need be in accordance with state statute,” Phillips said.
Residents of Southington may review the application at any time during business hours in the Planning and Zoning Department, on the lower level of the municipal center, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The office is open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
For more information about the department, call (860) 276-6248.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.