Commission sets hearing for controversial housing development in Beacon Falls

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

BEACON FALLS — About 40 people called into the Planning and Zoning Commission’s virtual meeting this month — many to speak about a controversial proposed housing development. These people will have to wait until next year to publicly voice their opinions on the project.

The commission scheduled hearings on the proposed Hopp Brook Estates project for a special meeting on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. Where and how the meeting will be held is to be determined, though officials said it’s likely to be a hybrid meeting and people could attend in person or virtually online.

“How we do it will be forthcoming,” said commission Chairman Donald Molleur, who was elected chairman at the Nov. 19 meeting.

Although dozens of people called into the Nov. 19 meeting, the commission didn’t take comments on the project. Molleur said comments will be reserved for the meeting in February.

Hopp Brook Developers, LLC, which is based in Shelton, wants to build 109 three-bedroom homes on a 135-acre, undeveloped parcel of land off Oakwood Drive near the Bethany border. Forty acres of the land will be designated for open space.

The plan also includes an outdoor community pool, a pool house and recreational area. There would be a 250,000-gallon water tank for fire protection, private water, and a private homeowner’s association would be responsible for maintaining the roads.

In 2017, the then-Planning and Zoning Commission changed designating the area from rural to urban and to allow for sewers in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. The then-Board of Selectmen did not support the change.

The commission in 2017 also approved changing the zone of the land from Residential 1 to a Planned Residential Open Space District.

Hearings were held on the changes, which were made with the project in mind, though they received little public comment at the time.

Hopp Brook Developers submitted applications to the commission in September for a zone text change and special exception for the site plan. It was unclear last week why, or if, the developer needs a zone change as one was approved in 2017.

The proposed development has garnered a lot of attention lately.

The commission received over 30 correspondences this month from residents raising issues about the project. Residents expressed concerns about the strain the new homes would put on the town’s infrastructure as well as town services. Residents also voiced concerns about the project’s potential to increase the town’s education costs if families with school-age children move into the development.

“We have received numerous comments from the public regarding Hopp Brook,” said Molleur, who advised commission members to read the comments as they will be discussed at the special meeting.