MERIDEN — A development partnership is seeking permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to build 21 garden-style apartments on a vacant lot along Crown Street.
Developer 3 Squared LLC has applied for a special exception and site plan approval for the 21-unit project on the .43-acre lot at 365 Crown St. Partners include Nicholas Martino and Louis Roy Evjen of Southington and Isaac Shweky of Cheshire, according to state business records. The vacant lot is currently owned by the Curtis Home, which operates a nursing home across the street.
The ZBA will discuss the project when it meets on Tuesday. There were no further details on the cost, the size of the units and number of bedrooms.
The proposed development comes just as city officials are discussing a possible moratorium on new housing units while Meriden Public Schools completes an enrollment study. The possible moratorium was raised at a recent City Council Economic Development Housing and Zoning Committee and tabled. A letter from the school board to the ZBA was read at last month’s meeting.
“We tabled it,” said EDHZ Committee Chairman Michael Rohde. “The BOE has contracted with a consultant to do a study on housing in Meriden and issue a report. We wanted to wait and see what it said before we took it up again.”
The Record-Journal has filed a request for the letter under Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act. Councilors said the Board of Education expressed concerns about the number of new apartments in the planning pipeline bringing more students, particularly those with high needs, into the district.
“I understand there is a sensitivity to affordable housing,” Rohde said. “A case can be made we have enough.”
Support and opposition for the proposed moratorium fell along party lines at last week’s committee meeting, with most Democratic councilors opposed to the idea, or taking a wait and see approach to it. Republican and We the People Party councilors supported the measure.
Conservative members of the council — Minority Leader Dan Brunet, Deputy Leader Michael Carabetta, Bob Williams Jr. and Ray Ouellet — were listed as the presenters of the resolution for the proposed moratorium.
During last week’s discussion, Brunet described the proposal as an “effort to address concerns” related to recently built housing developments and others that have been approved that he said have been conveyed by the Board of Education, other councilors and members of the public.
Brunet said he thinks it is the council’s responsibility to pause approving any new housing developments until after the data has been collected and reviewed by city staff.
But Democrat Majority Leader Sonya Jelks called the proposal premature and wanted to wait for more information before voting.
“I do not act without information,” Jelks said, describing the moratorium as being based on thoughts and theories at this point.
During the discussion, the topic of affordable housing came up, as well as the fact that the percentage of housing in Meriden that is considered affordable is well above that of surrounding communities, including Wallingford and North Haven.
Jelks said Meriden “should not be doing what everyone else is doing. Meriden should be doing what’s right … we should only do what’s best for our citizens.”
The enrollment study should be completed by mid-August.
It wasn’t clear Friday how the proposed moratorium would impact the newest housing proposal, as the ZBA meets next week without a moratorium on the books.
Rohde described the proposed building lot as rather steep, without a lot of room for green space.
He would rather see the former children’s home and portable buildings razed for an elderly apartment development.
“They have all the services available and quite a bit of acreage,” Rohde said.
“They should take down the old building and portables and build assisted living units or senior apartments. That’s a steep lot that goes all the way to the railroad tracks.”