Planning Commission opposes new Parcel C plan

A drawing of the new proposal for a building on Parcel C in Naugatuck. –CONTRIBUTED

NAUGATUCK — The Planning Commission no longer supports the plan for developing Parcel C following changes to the proposal.

“The Planning Commission, recognizing that the Parcel C development project will establish the benchmark for future downtown development for at least two generations, … wishes to go on record as opposing the current Parcel C development plans,” a letter from the commission to the Zoning Commission states.

The original proposal, which gained all the necessary approvals from boards and commissions, was for a three-story, roughly 30,000-square-foot medical office building on Parcel C, which sits at the corner of Maple and Water streets. St. Mary’s Hospital was to be the main tenant of the building. The plan also included a stand-alone 5,000-square-foot building.

Since then, developers Rob Oris and John Lombard, working under the name Heritage Downtown LLC, have twice proposed changes to the plan.

The latest proposal, which was unveiled to the Zoning Commission in May, is a 27,700-square-foot building that will have a two-story medical office and five single-story retail spaces.

The 5,000-square-foot building remains in the plan.

Oris and Lombard have said the changes are necessary to meet the needs of St. Mary’s Hospital, which was recently acquired by Trinity Health Care and faces an uncertain future regarding health care in the country.

In the letter, the Planning Commission states the “current plan does not reflect the plan previously approved by the Planning Commission. The changes are considered major and the commission does not endorse the commission’s prior approval for the current design.”

The letter states the plan for the building no longer fits in with the surrounding buildings. The new plan is smaller than the surrounding three-story buildings and would look even smaller because Parcel C is at a lower elevation than the other buildings in the area, the letter states.

“The current proposal is deemed to lack both complimentary scale and character,” the letter states.

However, even though it no longer supports the plan, the Planning Commission is unable to do anything about it.

After it voted more than a year ago, the final approval was passed on to the Zoning Commission.

Zoning Commission Chairman William Stopper said the only way the plan would be sent back to the Planning Commission is if the Zoning Commission feels the change is a major one and not in keeping with the original intent. At that point, he said, the applicant would have to resubmit the plan and start the process over.

Stopper hadn’t seen the letter as of Monday, but said he agreed with the Planning Commission that the new plan is a major change.

“It is going from a three-story building to two-story building with a restaurant and a strip mall. I feel it was major change. I don’t know how anybody could say it isn’t,” Stopper said.

Stopper said the final decision is up to the entire Zoning Commission and not just him. The commission is expected to make a decision on the plan during its meeting on June 21.