by Terry Rogers
On Monday, February 24, Milford City Council approved the Knight’s Crossing Community, a proposed 55 and older development, which will be located east of Beaver Dam Road and south of Route 36. The original plan for the development called for 131 units consisting of 101 single-family detached condominiums and 30 townhouse condominiums.
“The developer is requesting a minimum side yard setback of five feet on each side as opposed to the required eight feet in code,” City Planner Rob Pierce said. “At the Planning Commission, the developer requested a reduction in road width, but they have since reconfigured the plan so they believe they will meet code. Planning Commission approved the project but recommended that Council not approve the reduction in setbacks to five feet.”
Councilman Todd Culotta asked what would happen if Council did not allow the reduction in setbacks. Don Lockwood, the developer, explained that requiring eight feet between the buildings would mean the plan would need to be reconfigured to reduce the number of units by 20.
“We have done this particular type of development in Rehoboth Beach and have been very successful,” Lockwood said. “These are not really lot lines. It is an all-inclusive type of community so there will be a condo association to handle landscaping and grass. It will not fall to the homeowner. There are sidewalks throughout the development as well as a pool and community center.”
Councilman Culotta pointed out that these were not really stand-alone buildings and that, in most communities, townhomes and condominiums are built on top of each other, negating the need for a setback at all.
“By squeezing property lines, you get more buildings,” Councilman Mike Boyle said. “However, you do a disservice to the community. You figure a couple has two cars and if they have a teenager, there is an additional car. This setback and the lack of parking concern me greatly. I have lived in townhouse communities and see this as just a recipe for disaster. Where I live now, we have had to eliminate street parking because there is just no space. When this is completed, we have to think about the people who are going to live there because the engineer and developer will be long gone.”
Lockwood explained that each unit would have a two-car garage plus two additional spaces which is more than City code required. Councilman Dan Marabello asked if there would be basements in the units and Lockwood stated there were no plans for basements.
“This concerns me as well,” Councilman Marabello said. “If there is no storage, like a basement, people will use their garage for storage which may eliminate a parking space, adding to the problem.”
Councilman Jason James stated that although he appreciated the concerns expressed by Councilman Boyle and Marabello, he saw that the developer had tried to do what they could to meet City code and although he understood waivers were different, he didn’t feel Council should legislate how someone lives.
“If someone decides to use a garage for storage and not their car, that is not something we should use to determine this development,” Councilman James said. “We have to look at whether they met code and then determine if we want to approve any deviations from that code.” Pierce stated that the development actually went above what was required in the code as far as parking and the only waiver they were requesting was for the reduced setback.
When asked the prices for the units, Lockwood stated that the cost for the condominiums would be in the high $100,000 range while the detached townhomes would range in cost between $250,000 and $400,000.
“I will not get into the economics of the project,” Councilman Jason James said. “I won’t base my decision on your profits or your economics. My concern is does it fit the City of Milford and will it provide affordable housing.” Lockwood stated that his intention was to create a project that would be nice for the city and fit well in the community.
Council approved the project except for the setback. The setback vote was 5 to 3 against approval. Pierce stated that the developer will need to come back to Planning and Zoning with the setback corrected before the final approval could be given for the new community.