Region 16 requests zone change for new school

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The Region 16 school board is requesting a zone change for the Tallmadge Hill Road property in Prospect in order to build a new elementary school on the site.

BEACON FALLS — The Region 16 school board is seeking a zone change to clear one of the many hurdles between it and a new elementary school.

The Board of Education has applied for a zone change of the Tallmadge Hill Road property, located at 75 New Haven Road in Prospect, to help pave the way for the construction of a new school on the 47-arce parcel.

“It’s one of those things that has to be done somewhere along the way,” Superintendent of Schools James Agostine said.

Attorney Pete Hess, who is representing the board on the matter, explained during the board’s Sept. 14 meeting that the land is currently zoned for congregate housing with a portion of the land zoned for commercial use.

The portion zoned for commercial use is about 10 acres, said Agostine in a subsequent interview.

The plan was for senior housing to be built on the land with the commercial portion intended to be used for businesses that would cater to the senior population. However, those plans never came to fruition, and the land needs to be rezoned to either a residential one-acre or two-acre zone for the school to be built there.

Hess said the town wants the land zoned as a residential two-acre zone and that he had submitted an application for the change.

During previous meetings, some board members expressed concerns over rezoning the commercial portion of the land.

Hess said rezoning the entire property would give the board flexibility when designing the new school. Once the project is finished, he said, the board can access the land and decide what it wants to do with any excess land.

Ultimately, the board approved applying for the zone change 6-0 with two abstentions.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to accept the board’s application Wednesday night. A public hearing on the request is expected to be held next month.

The proposed new pre-K through fifth grade school is the largest part of a three-part building project. Community and Algonquin schools will be closed once the new school is opened and its students will attend the new school.

The project also includes new central administrative offices for the district and renovations to Laurel Ledge Elementary School in Beacon Falls to build hallways to connect each of the school’s building.

School officials are aiming to hold a referendum on the project later this year.