NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission last week approved zone changes for nearly three dozen properties on Prospect Street.
The commission approved changing the zones of 34 properties, which are currently zoned business, industrial or residential, to B-2. A B-2 designation allows for mixed-use developments with business on the first floor and residential units on upper levels. The change takes effect on July 1.
The 34 properties total 37.46 acres. The majority of the properties are less than 1 acre with a few exceptions, including the former Prospect Street School. The properties start at about the intersection of Golden Hill Street and Prospect Street and go towards the Prospect town border.
Town Planner and Zoning Enforcement Officer Sue Goggin said the change is a reasonable proposal because many of properties along Prospect Street were already designated as B-2 and the street is a main roadway into the borough.
The commission previously proposed creating the Prospect Street Design District, which would have changed the zone designation of the entire street. Under the proposed design district, the borough would have installed sidewalks along the entire road and put limitations on how close buildings could be to the road.
Residents of Prospect Street and the surrounding neighborhoods voiced their disapproval of the proposed design district. The commission agreed the proposal was too restrictive and began exploring new ways of moving forward, Goggin said.
Zoning Commission Chairman William Stopper said the changes approved last week were the best of the three options under consideration for Prospect Street.
Stopper said the first option, which was the Prospect Design District, was too restrictive. The second option was to just change the zones as needed.
“There are some legal ramifications to [changing zones as needed]. If you put a commercial zone in the midst of a residential zone it is called spot zoning, which isn’t really the way to go,” Stopper said.
The third option was to change the properties that the commission felt would be best to help the borough get the most out of the street.
“That is the direction I believe we all felt we should go in,” Stopper said.
Borough Attorney Ned Fitzpatrick said the borough’s Plan of Conservation and Development recommends Prospect Street be developed as one of the borough’s main arterial roadways.
“So the proposal, as has been modified, seems to be in keeping with that Plan of Conservation and Development, which has adopted and is currently in effect,” Fitzpatrick said.
Onsi Tawadros, who owns a 14-acre parcel along Prospect Street that is currently zoned residential and will be changed, favored the change saying it will allow him to move forward with building on his property.
“I’ve owned this property for about 10 years now, paying taxes. I cannot do anything with it,” Tawadros said. “Let me do some work and help the city to get some revenue. That’s all I want.”
Not everyone was happy with the change, however.
David and Michele Zychowski, who live on Whitney Place, wrote a letter to the commission voicing concerns that new construction would significantly lower the value of properties that abut properties on Prospect Street.
Crystal Hafford, whose residential property will be changed to B-2, expressed concerns about the increase in traffic that would occur when businesses are built along Prospect Street.
“I think it is going to be a huge issue. We already have problems coming out of our driveway. On average, in the morning, it takes almost 15 to 20 minutes to get out of our driveway, just waiting for traffic,” Hafford said. “There are many of us who have children along Prospect Street that are walking to and from the bus stop at Lines Hill. I think the increased congestion is going to cause problems.”