Beacon Falls P&Z eyes new transition zone

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

BEACON FALLS — The Planning and Zoning Commission is a step closer to establishing a new transition zone designed to protect residential areas from industrial development.

The Planning and Zoning Commission on May 20 closed a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the zoning regulations to create a floating Residential Industrial Transitional Zone.

No one from the public attended the hearing. Following the hearing, the commission tabled action on the amendment and referred it to legal counsel for review.

The purpose of the proposed RIT zone is to control the reuse of residential properties that border industrial land and to assist with transitioning from residential to small office and commercial uses.

Commission Chairman Donald Molleur said the proposed change is to have conforming residential and industrial areas, and to prevent potential future developers from building anything however they want.

“It’s more or less to have more aesthetics and more control in a residential area,” Molleur said.

A RIT zone can be applied to residential properties zoned R-1, R-2 or R-3 that are more than 12,500 square feet and have public sewers and water, and are adjacent to or across the street from industrial land.

“It’s in order to allow those traditional properties that have been either deteriorating or experiencing a lack of financial investment and allowing for somebody to take their home that has suffered from being next to these industrial areas. Give them the ability to make an investment that’s not at the determent to their neighbors,” Town Planner Keith Rosenfeld said.

Permitted uses in a RIT zone would include convenience and retail stores, daycares, hair salons, pharmacies and art studios.

Medical offices would also be allowed, but would need approval of a special exception to determine the impact of the business and its ability to be harmonious within the neighborhood, Rosenfeld said.

The zone would have a 25-foot setback and a buffer — either a wall or trees — within the setback, Rosenfeld said.

The commission in 2019 first looked at creating a mixed-use transition zone on a section of Pines Bridge Road from Dr. Sudipta Dey’s office at 127 Pines Bridge Road to Breault Road as well as several property zone changes to a transition zone designation.

Last year, the commission changed course to create a floating zone that can be applied town wide based on market needs and demands.