By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Bluewater Property Group is moving ahead to determine the feasibility to build an Amazon e-commerce distribution facility straddling border between the borough and Waterbury after zoning text changes.
The Zoning Commission unanimously approved text changes to zoning districts I-2 (industrial zone) and PDD-2 (planned development district) after a hearing at a special meeting on July 12 at Town Hall.
The two current zones allow a wide variety of warehousing and industrial uses. Some of the text zone changes for I-2 and PDD-2 zones in different sections of the borough’s regulations include a maximum limit on height set at 130 feet; property line setbacks increased to 150 feet from structures except when sound walls are included, then it will be a 100-foot setback when sound walls are included; and the amount of parking spaces required tied to the footprint of the building.
These changes would be for properties in these zones that are more than 40 acres.
Bluewater Property Group Vice President Christina Bernardin said the modification allows the developer the opportunity to investigate and design the facility.
“It does not provide any immediate approval of any project,” Bernardin said. “It does not change any state or local oversight and does not supersede any environmental protections that are on the site. It just allows us to begin the studies.”
The developer sought to move the setbacks in both Naugatuck and Waterbury from about 20 feet to 150 feet so it wouldn’t abut any of residential areas, Bernardin said.
“We’ve increased the buffer boundary because we’re going higher in our height so it’s more favorable to the surrounding residents,” Bernardin said.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses recently approved a motion that the borough enter into a purchase and sale approval for about 10.4 acres for about $2.5 million. This would then allow the developer to buy the site in the future. This approval came soon after the Board of Aldermen in Waterbury approved the purchase and sale agreement for the same company to officially begin a due-diligence phase on 157 acres in the city and Naugatuck.
Waterbury owns two parcels — one at 40.8 acres and the other 16 acres in the Industrial Park. Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess previously said the borough originally bought the 10.4 acre parcel so Waterbury could have access to its property. All the entrances to the land are through the Naugatuck side of the Industrial Park near the Great Hill Road area.
The Zoning Commission closed the hearing after fewer than a dozen members of different labor unions said the proposed development would be beneficial to borough and surrounding communities.
Timothy Riggs of Naugatuck and a member of the Local 48 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said he supports the zone text change.
“It will obviously create a lot of jobs and it will be very good for the tax revenue for this town and I also think it will bolster the businesses and the restaurants,” Riggs said. “I think it will be good for Naugatuck.”
Fred Duncan, of Seymour and from a local carpenters union, also approved of the text changes.
“I’m in favor of the change because I see it could bring a lot of support not just for the workers but also the community,” Duncan said.
Gary O’Connor, an attorney with Pullman & Comley who is representing the applicant, said this project will create up to 1,000 jobs.
“It will have a huge impact on the tax base and all the indirect factors like people that are going to work need to get gas, they need to buy a lunch or coffee,” O’Connor said. “All those things have huge positive multiplier benefits on the local economy.”
The developer’s intent is to leave up as much of the natural terrain without having to cut it all down, O’Connor said.
“We’re in the diligent period and the first step in the diligence period is to allow for an increased height so we can select the facility,” Bernardin said. “After that’s done, there’s going to be over the 12 months of project engineering, construction feasibility and state and local approvals that we’re required to meet to ensure that this facility is going to acceptable in this location.”