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Article Published September 10, 2019
Revised 31-Unit Open Space Subdivision Goes Back to PZC
Jesse Williams

The Planning & Zoning Commision is currently considering a first-of-its-kind open space subdivision application by Vigliotti Construction for a 31-lot development off Long Hill Road.

Vigliotti plans to place its development on the approximately 77 acre property, leaving about 53 acres as open space still owned by the town. The proposed development would be on the east side of Long Hill Road between Spruce Lane and Bullard Drive.

The purpose of an open space subdivision, according to Zoning Enforcement Officer Erin Mannix, is to provide flexibility for residential developments while simultaneously preserving wetlands, forests, and any other natural resources, and without being a detriment to scenic views or town character. A minimum of 30 percent open space is required for a development to qualify as an open space subdivision.

In a memo dated Aug. 21, Town Environmental Planner Kevin Magee said Vigliotti’s plan met “the majority” of special criteria for an open space subdivision. He noted that the development would allow access to “informal trails” north of Bittner Park, and would also allow access to portions of West River.

Concerns raised by town officials include road frontage requirements, drainage on a new street that would allow access to the lots, low-impact designs to utilize space and resources efficiently, and potential disruption of vernal pools.

The permit would also allow Vigliotti to develop lots that are significantly smaller than the current R-5 zoning requirements for the property, down from a minimum of one acre to about half that size, according to Mannix.

Currently, the plan is in a public hearing phase, with the commission accepting modifications from Vigliotti and also any questions or comments from the public. A commission meeting to hear updates from Vigliotti was scheduled for Sept. 4, but was canceled when Vigliotti asked for additional time to update plans and address concerns town officials had expressed at their regular meeting on Aug. 21.

Vigliotti will have another chance to present updates to its initial plan at the commission’s next meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 18. The commission can then choose to end the public hearing phase, which would preclude Vigliotti from providing any more information or modifications.

Once the public hearing phase ends, the commission has 65 days to approve or deny Vigliotti’s application.

Mannix described the open space subdivision application as less technical than subsequent steps in the permit process, which require more surveying and more detailed engineering designs. This type of proposal allows the commission to broadly approve a project without endorsing every specific lot or detail, and it allows developers to have “a little assurance” from the town before investing more time and money in engineering designs, Mannix said.

If the open subdivision plan is approved, Vigliotti would still need to come back for a standard subdivision permit, which requires much more detailed designs. In a memo dated Aug. 21, Mannix noted the commission can approve less than the currently proposed 31 lots even if it grants the permit.