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June 1, 2020
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With Several High-Profile Projects, Clinton PZC in for a Big Night

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Monday, March 2 is going to be a busy night for anyone interested in the future of some of the high-profile developments progressing in Clinton. There is a public hearing scheduled that night at 7 p.m. in Clinton Town Hall, 54 East Main Street, where the public will be able to weigh in on several applications that have drawn substantial community interest.

This winter, some key applications before the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) included a proposed ice cream café and mini golf course to be built on Route One, apartments and a brewery to built on the Unilever property, and a multi-use development to be built on the Old Morgan Property.

All of the applications are in various stages, and coincidentally, all of the applications will be on the agenda for a hearing on March 2. Due their importance, the Harbor News has a rundown on each application.

Mini Golf

The Details: The application was received in December and the public hearing opened in January. A continuation was scheduled for February but was postponed at the request of the applicant, 3 West Main, LLC.

The application calls for a mini golf course and ice cream café to be built on a plot of land close to the Madison border. The property borders the Hammonasset River and a portion of the applicant’s land is proposed to be transferred to the Clinton Land Conservation Trust for a kayak launch and drop-off area. The mini golf course will have 18 holes and the café will be built on stilts to offer patrons a view of the neighboring wetlands and river. The café will have 49 seats and offer counter service. Project engineers have said that nothing will be built within 50 feet of the tidal wetlands.

The Concerns: The application drew an official intervenor and several speakers who were opposed to the application. Ron Bodinson is the intervenor and a resident of the Windermere neighborhood—a development in Madison directly across the river from where the mini golf is proposed. Bodinson said he is concerned about the adverse effects that man-made light could have on birds and aquatic animals in the area. Others opposed to the application also expressed concern about the light pollution and the disturbance of the wetlands, as well as concerns about the economic viability of the area.

The applicants are expected to present an updated lighting plan to the PZC in response to some of the concerns raised at the public hearing.

The Brewery

The Details: The application was received in January and the public hearing opened in February. The hearing was continued to March to give the developer more time to answer questions raised by the commission. The developer is Michael Massimino. The application for the brewery lists Kinsmen Brewing Co. as a potential tenant. A drawing of the brewery depicts a taproom, banquet hall, brewing area, and kitchen on the first floor in addition to offices and storage areas. The proposal features a large outdoor patio on the first floor and an upstairs with a mezzanine and lounge area. The brewery would be built in a portion of the former Unilever headquarters building.

The Concerns: This applicant did not submit certain pieces of information that are usually submitted to the PZC before a public hearing is opened. Those items include information related to the septic system and traffic flows on the property. The applicant’s representatives have said that they are waiting to receive that information before they submit it to the PZC. PZC Chair Michael Rossi warned the applicant that if the required studies are not ready while the public hearings are open, the PZC would be forced to deny the applications as incomplete.

Additionally, neighbor Judy Rasmussen has intervened on the application and hired attorney Keith Ainsworth to do so on her behalf. Ainsworth singled out the septic system and lighting plans as key issues of concern.

Apartments

The Details: A separate application was filed by the same developer as the brewery applications for apartments to be placed in a former office building on the Unilever property. Since it is a separate application, a separate public hearing from the brewery application has to be held. This application also opened in early February and was continued to March.

The proposal calls for several multi-family units to be available for rental. The units would be 1,000 square-feet at minimum, with a maximum of 1,400 square feet. There would be 41 total apartments, with nine two-bedroom units, and 32 single-bedroom units.

The building currently has two floors; the developer said the plan is to add an additional floor. The center of the building will be used for additional storage and common amenities for the residents.

The Concerns: The concerns for the apartment application are very similar to the concerns about the brewery application. The application also did not have septic design approval. Rasmussen and Ainsworth are intervening on this application as well.

Old Morgan

The Details: Indian River Landing is a proposed mixed-use development to be built on the old Morgan School property. The developer seeks to turn the property into a mixed-used development consisting of retail, a large grocery store, restaurants, and a hotel. The 37-acre development would also include walking trails and a park area. The project cleared the Inland Wetlands Commission approval process earlier this month, and the PZC will be opening its public hearing on the 2nd.

The Inland Wetlands Commission can only rule on the merits of an application based on the potential impacts from construction on any of the wetlands on the property. Approval by that commission is required as part of the PZC approval process, and thus was needed before the PZC public hearing opens.

The Concerns: Since the PZC public hearing has yet to open, none have been expressed yet. The wetlands commission ruled there were no concerns with the proposals from its point of view and the developers said they are proposing no activity in the wetlands.

At the public hearing, the public will be able to speak in favor, against, or neutrally about an application. The applicants may make a more detailed presentation of their proposal and may respond to questions from the commission members.

Depending on if the commission members feel they have received enough information, they may vote to either close the public hearing or continue it to a later date. Once a public hearing is closed, the application is eligible for decision, which usually comes at a subsequent regular meeting. The PZC has a regular meeting scheduled for Monday, March 9.


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