Local Developer Bill LePage told the Tuesday evening that he has never been so excited about a development in his long career as his team presented plans for the construction of Millcrest Condominiums, a 17-unit, three building complex along Mill Street.
Neighbors disagreed vehemently, however, saying the development will only bring dangerous increases in traffic, more children to an already crowded school system and lower property values to the neighborhood.
“Unlike Mr. LePage, I’m not excited at all,” said local resident Richard Siddell. “I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that lower Mill Street is a traffic nightmare already. I am the first house in, and it’s treacherous backing out or pulling into driveway during the day. With sun there, you can’t see cars coming down the street.”
“I’m not a traffic engineer but I live there and I see it every day,” he said. “If they don’t do something to slow traffic down or stop above that point, there will be a deadly accident.”
Siddell was one of more than a dozen residents who voiced objections with the latest residential development proposal, which would be built on the properties at 500 and 514 Mill St., Under the plans presented to the commission Tuesday evening, developers plan to build three buildings containing units containing 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms each.
There would be 17 units in all according to Andrew Denorfia, who represents LePage Homes, Inc., with seven units in two buildings and three in a third on the roughly 4 acre property. The units would each be built at 1,485 to 1,697 square feet.
Denorfia and civil engineer Stephen Giudice of Harry E. Cole and Sons said the project would include the development of a retention basin to prevent water run off and improve drainage in the area, as well as a 7,000 square foot play area and landscaping that would include the planting of several types of trees as a buffer surrounding the development.
Neighbors, however, said despite LePage’s good intentions and strong history as a developer, the results would be ugly.
“I don’t want to stare at a condo complex,” said Marianne Dudac, a resident of 515 West St. “Allowing the housing density requested change overall make-up of the neighborhood and would become the most prevalent character of the area. I highly doubt houses will maintain value they have because of the added congestion.”
With traffic backing up already during rush hour and Mill Street expected to become a more active throughway from downtown Southington to the West Street corridor and Interstate 84 with the completion of Greenway Commons along Liberty Street, Dudac and other neighbors said the Millcrest Condominiums would add to an already increasing problem.
Furthermore they argued that the development, which would replace two vacant homes currently sitting on the properties, would disturb wildlife and add children to Southington’s “already overburdened school district.”
The schools redistricted several years ago to alleviate growth that had caused a spike in students at the and said it would likely to lead to further increases at the school. Several residents also noted that the school district just added several literacy tutors because of concerns over the average classroom sizes there.
Despite the concerns, however, Denorfia and Giudice each said that the project only has a total of 17 units and would have minimal effects, whether on traffic, the school system or any other aspect of life in the neighborhood.
Traffic expert Bruce Hillson, who has done work providing several “peer reviews” of developer traffic studies in recent years, said a study showed an average of 2,900 vehicles traveling east and 2,750 vehicles traveling west along Mill Street over the course of a 30-hour period. The development would add just 11 cars during morning peak hours and 15 during afternoon peak hours, he said.
Denorfia said the development also is designed to be aesthetically pleasing as to conform to the neighborhood and will meet each of the town’s regulations.
The public hearing was left open until the Oct. 4 meeting, at which time residents will have another chance to speak before the commission moves forward with a vote. LePage Homes, Inc., will also provide an assessment of how the property values would be affected at that time.