SOUTHINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission voted Tuesday night to settle a lawsuit brought by a local developer after both sides agreed to modifications to a Laning Street housing project.
Frank Fragola, a local business owner and developer, sued the town following its denial of his application for 30 houses on Laning Street. Among the town’s objections was the single access road he proposed. Town leaders wanted a second emergency access included in the plan.
Sev Bovino, a local planner representing Fragola, said plans he submitted Tuesday afternoon showed the emergency access that was added to the project.
The Planning and Zoning Commission met in executive session on Tuesday and last month about the lawsuit. All but one member, Peter Santago, voted in favor of the settlement Tuesday. Other than a statement from commission chairman Bob Hammersley, there was no discussion.
“After much back and for the between the town and the applicant, I feel the town’s concerns have been taken into account,” Hammersley said.
The settlement means Fragola can proceed with the development.
Fragola's lawsuit claimed the commission didn't have proper cause for voting down his housing proposal last July.
The development included an affordable housing component. Since Southington doesn't meet the state's goal for affordable housing, the PZC can only deny such proposals if they feel there's a danger to public health or safety.
In July, the PZC denied Fragola's request in a 5 to 2 vote. Commission members that opposed the plan pointed to regulations that called for two full access points for developments of its size. In a prepared statement, they called the access plan "inadequate and unsafe" for fire department and emergency access. Commissioners were also concerned about the addition of 30 new septic systems, increasing housing density in the neighborhood and traffic.
Fragola's attorneys argued to the contrary, writing that the commission's decision "fails to protect any substantial public interest in the health, safety or other matters that the Commission may legally consider which clearly outweighs the need for affordable housing." Fragola has been trying to build at his 295 Laning St. property for several years but has faced town opposition.
Bovino said the added route provided access to Laning Street as well as a generous interior radius of 40 feet to allow fire trucks to get in.
“It’s a pretty good sized radius. Most roadways in towns have a 30 foot radius at intersections,” Bovino said.
Town Attorney Alex Ricciardone said police and fire officials had reviewed the revised proposal.
“The plans in front of you have been reviewed by town staff, they had no concerns,” he said.