Revised Kensett plan starts approval process
Published 9:00 am, Wednesday, September 23, 2015
A revamped plan by Sun Homes to expand a senior housing development on Kensett Lane and Wakemore Street seems to have addressed concerns from residents and zoning officials about the intent of the developer.
An earlier version of the proposal, known as Kensett II, was not considered in April when zoning commissioners were split 3-3 whether to consider rezoning the 2.49-acre site to allow multi-family housing and allow the developer to build larger units under inclusionary zoning meant to catalyze building housing for seniors.
On Tuesday, the commissioners ultimately agreed to consider the site plan after assurances the project would be age-restricted.
In response, the new proposal reduces the number of units proposed from 16 to 14 in four duplex buildings and three standalone units on a separate lot at 269 Hoyt St. specifically dedicated to older residents.
“Part of my willingness to proceed with this is based on the discussions focused on the applicant’s willingness to focus this as an age-targeted development,” Zoning Commissioner Eric Voight said. “… I plan to hold them to that.”
Attorney Bruce Hill, representing the developer, agreed to a request from zoning commission to restrict the age-restricted units to tenants earning no more than 80 percent of the state median income.
Commissioners and residents have been critical of the finished first part of the project, which they say has attracted too many younger families and not enough older ones to the area, raising traffic and other concerns.
Resident concerns focused on safety issues around a school bus stop on Wakemore Street, including requests that Sun Homes establish a larger area for children to wait for the bus.
The plan also includes a bus shelter with two benches providing a space for children to wait for buses, said Bill McGuinness, speaking for Sun Homes.
Patrick Hirscht, of 17 Wakemore St., said he and his neighbors are much happier with the proposed plans. He said his main concern is the growth in the number of children in the neighborhood and their safety.
The developer should create space on the side of Wakemore Street to allow drivers to stop at the side of the road during school pickup and dropoff, Hirscht said.
“It is a daily occurrence of parents having to get in the way of cars coming up and down that road,” Hirscht said.
Oleg Starovoitov, 22 Wakemore St., said a group of residents in the area support the project contingent on providing safety measures for the children waiting for school buses, installing a gate between Wakemore Street and Kensett Lane, and adding adequate drainage system capacity to prevent flooding of Wakemore yards.
Richard DiDonna, a zoning commissioner, suggested a planned lot next to the waiting area for school buses should have more spaces to accommodate parents dropping off students.
The developer has removed the mention of the local school districts from marketing materials for the development, but DiDonna said the developer should include references to the Darien Senior Center and other resources for older people on their website.
“It would be good to have a mention of the facilities for seniors in Darien,” DiDonna said.
The developer is expected to return to appear before the commission again at its next regular meeting Sept. 29.