Zoners grant extension for Parcel C hearing

NAUGATUCK — A public hearing on the proposed development of Parcel C will remain open for at least one more month.

The Zoning Commission on May 18 approved a 30-day extension of the hearing.

Developers Rob Oris and John Lombard, working under the company Heritage Downtown, LLC, have proposed building a three-story, 30,000-square-foot medical building and a second 5,000-square-foot building for a restaurant or retail on Parcel C, the vacant lot on the corner of Maple and Water streets. The developers originally had a Starbucks as part of their plans, but local officials say Oris and Lombard now say a Starbucks is not likely to be part of the project.

The developers unveiled their vision for the project in October 2015, and have since received the necessary approvals from all boards and commission except for the Zoning Commission.

Since March, the Zoning Commission has been going back and forth with Oris and Lombard regarding the look of the project.

Oris and Lombard want to use a stucco material on the exterior, while some officials and members of the public say they would rather see more expensive brick or stone. They say the stucco material fades easily, gets damaged by acid rain and other weather, and looks cheap, taking away from what they say is the historical charm of many downtown buildings.

The commission has said it would like to see brick on the building up through the second floor so the building fits in with the historic look of the downtown. Oris and Lombard have protested that putting brick on the building would cost too much money to make the project viable.

Those opposed to the stucco material say that a building on such an important piece of commercial land downtown should look as presentable as possible, because this project is pegged as the first phase of downtown revitalization.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses sent a letter to the Zoning Commission on May 18 stating its support of the original design for the proposed medical complex.

In the letter, the board wrote that it approved preliminary architectural renderings for the project in October

“The Board of Mayor and Burgesses stands by said approval and hereby ratifies its approval of the preliminary renderings presented by Heritage Downtown, LLC,” the letter states.

Lombard presented a preliminary rendering showing some changes to the medical building to the Naugatuck Economic Development Commission on May 16. The changes showed brick and stone along the first floor. The NEDC supported these plans in a letter to the Zoning Commission.

The plans were not finalized by May 18 and not available for the Zoning Commission to view.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess told the commission that the board voted to recommend the original drawings because it has not seen any other drawings yet.

“There is no final plan before you. Next month there will be. I believe there will be revisions. I believe what you are going to be voting on will be different than what we are seeing here. I think at that time we will address it,” Hess said.

Attorney Kevin McSherry, who is representing Oris and Lombard, requested a 30-day extension for the public hearing since the drawings had not been completed.

“We’re in the process of still working on the plans and some of the changes relate significantly to the parking lot, which we are going to readjust,” McSherry said.

McSherry said the changes include making some of the parking spaces larger to accommodate people going to the medical center for treatment.

The commission granted the request for an extension, asking that Lombard and Oris deliver the plans with enough time to give the commission ample opportunity to review them.

“It almost seems like at the last minute we get some kind of rendering. We didn’t even get this one yet; NEDC got it,” Zoning Commission Chairman William Stopper said.

The public hearing was continued to the commission’s June 15 meeting.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.