by Michael Torelli
Planning and Zoning Commissioners have approved a zone text change amendment that will allow for garages to be built on certain residential lots close to side property lines.
On July 8, Commissioners reviewed an application submitted by Core Development LLC, which calls for an amendment to the Cheshire zoning regulations that are specific to residential infill developments, which would allow for developers to build accessory structures, such as garages, within five feet of the side property lines.
The Commission approved the amendment during their July 22 meeting.
Infill developments are residential housing complexes that can be constructed along Route 10 between Maple Avenue and North Brooksvale Road in R20A zones on parcels ranging from .5 to 2 acres in size. The property on the northern corner of Elmwood Drive and Route 10 was approved by the PZC for an 11-unit condominium complex in 2014.
John Milone, president of engineering firm Milone & MacBroom Inc., represented Core Development. Milone said only a handful of properties would be affected by the proposed zoning changes.
“The application is very limited because it’s limited to those very few sites that would meet the criteria,” explained Milone.
After reviewing the proposal, Commissioner Jeff Natale questioned whether there will be a maximum height enforced on the garages. Milone said that there is nothing about that in the proposed amendment, but that he would be willing to include such wording.
“Our intent is fairly similar to what you would expect,” Milone said. “It’s not intended to be a very large structure.”
Natale said he would want to see the height limits included in the text.
“If we’re going to amend a regulation, we should see that in there,” stated Natale.
Commission Chairman Earl Kurtz III asked about the existing infill development regulations, which prohibit parking areas closer than 10 feet from the side property lines. Town Planner Bill Voelker said that would still be enforced if a garage is not constructed.
Milone added that a garage would provide “a more desirable buffer” for adjacent property owners.
“We see advantages to this in terms of buffering and separating as opposed to parking and a fence,” Milone said.
Milone commented that current zoning regulations allow for 40-foot tall structures to be built 12 feet from property lines in an R-20 zone. He said that, while a garage would be “slightly closer,” it would not be built as tall.
“Yes, it would be closer, but it’s not intended to be a significant structure,” he said.
The original proposal suggested allowing garages to be built five feet from rear property lines as well, according to Voelker. However, the Planning Department suggested eliminating that from the amendment because most rear abutters are R-20 and R-40-zoned neighborhoods.
“We’re comfortable with excluding the rear yard from this requirement,” Milone confirmed.