By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
BEACON FALLS — A developer wants to build more than 100 homes on a 135-acre, undeveloped parcel of land off Oakwood Drive near the Bethany border.
Hopp Brook Developers, LLC, which is based in Shelton, is proposing the development.
The proposed development, called Hopp Brook Estates, will have 109 three-bedroom homes on the land, according to the plan.
Stephen Bellis, an attorney and principal with Hopp Brook Developers, said 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, he said.
There would be an entrance to the development on Oakwood Drive, he said, and the plan is to extend Miller Road to the development.
Bellis said 40 acres of the land will be designated for open space.
Bellis said the project has been in the works since 2016, including a zone change and changes to the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.
In 2017, the Planning and Zoning Commission changed designating the area from rural to urban and to allow for sewers in the Plan of Conservation and Development, according to meeting minutes. The then-Board of Selectmen did not support the change.
A Plan of Conservation and Development is an advisory document designed to guide development of a town. It is not legally binding.
The commission in 2017 also approved changing the zone of the land from Residential 1 to a Planned Residential Open Space District. Developments within a Planned Residential Open Space District require approval for a special exception.
Bellis has submitted an application for a special exception for the site plan for the project.
Bellis compared the proposed Hopp Brook Estates to Chatfield Farms, a housing development for people 55 years old and older. Chatfield Farms borders the land for the proposed development.
Bellis said the homes in the development would be catered to older couples looking to downsize or younger couples buying their first homes.
“It makes for a nice neighborhood and nice community,” Bellis said. “Chatfield (Farms) has built like 200 of these. It’s a tax boom.”
Bellis estimated the proposed homes could mean about $1 million in tax revenue for the town. He said officials “should be jumping up and down for this.”
First Selectman Gerard Smith didn’t share the same passion for the project.
“I think it’s going to be a financial burden on the town,” Smith said.
While the new homes would mean additional taxes for the town, Smith said if there is a child in each home that attends Region 16 schools it would add to town’s educational costs, which would offset any additional tax revenue. The expense per student in the region, which is composed of Beacon Falls and Prospect, is about $16,000.
“I don’t think it’s going to generate that much of tax revenue,” Smith said about the development.
It was unclear last week when the Planning and Zoning Commission will move forward with a hearing on the plan.
Smith said officials are figuring out how to hold a hearing safely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and get the word out to residents so people come and expresses their thoughts.
Vincent Marino, the town’s land use attorney, said officials are thinking of holding a hybrid hearing, possibly after the holidays, with some residents watching online while others attend in person.
Planning and Zoning Commission Vice Chairman William J. Giglio said last week there was no definite date for the hearing. He said it’s important for the commission to hold an in-person hearing.
“In my opinion, given the amount of public input, it’s absolutely foolish to do anything other than an in-person public hearing,” Giglio said. “To do it on Zoom doesn’t serve the best interest of the public.”