Developer plans to appeal P&Z decision


By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Hopp Brook Estates proposal called for 109 homes in Beacon Falls

BEACON FALLS — The developer behind the proposed Hopp Brook Estates housing development plans to appeal in Superior Court the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to deny an application for the project.

Hopp Brook Developers, LLC, which is based in Shelton, wants to build 109 three-bedroom homes on a 135-acre, undeveloped parcel of land it owns off Oakwood Drive near the Bethany border.

Hopp Brook Developers had two applications — one for a zone change and another for a special exception for the project — pending before the commission.

In 2017, the then-Planning and Zoning Commission approved changing the zone of the land from Residential 1 to a Planned Residential Open Space District for the project, but the legal notice announcing the decision incorrectly stated the area for the change. The most recent application for the zone change was meant to clear up the clerical error from 2017.

On Feb. 25, the commission unanimously denied the zone change application, without prejudice. Denying the application without prejudice meant Hopp Brook Developers could reapply. The developer could also chose to appeal in court, and has decided to do so.

Stephen Bellis, an attorney and principal with Hopp Brook Developers, said last week he drafted an appeal and planned to file it in Superior Court.

Bellis said he was disappointed the commission didn’t approve the administrative correction after the zone text amendment was already approved in 2017.

“They (the commission) never got to hear what we’re proposing to do,” Bellis said.

Since the commission denied the zone change application, the application for the special exception detailing the site plan can’t move forward.

Dozens of residents have raised concerns about the proposed development, arguing the new homes and residents could strain town services, and the town’s educational costs could increase if an influx of families with children move into town.

Bellis said the proposal is a similar concept to Chatfield Farms, a housing development for people 55 years old and older. He said people would own their homes in Hopp Brook Estates and there would be a homeowners association to maintain the septic system, roads and recreational area.

Bellis said the town is missing out on tax revenue by not moving forward with the project, which he argued would not be a burden on the Region 16 school system. He said a housing development in Shelton with about 100 homes has about 14 school-aged children living there.

Bellis also pointed to declining student enrollment in Region 16.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Donald Molleur said the commission didn’t slam the door on the project completely, since it denied the application without prejudice.

“That’s his option. That’s fine,” Molleur said about the developer’s plan to appeal in court. “He has the right to appeal.”

Molleur declined to comment further, citing the pending litigation.