While residents around Hospital Avenue are still in an uproar over the BRT/Jeffery Court development, I decided to take a little trip back in time and show readers the history of opposition towards the development of this particular piece of land.
Going back as far as 2005, residents in the area have fought against BRT over their development proposal at the current site, which was then called Hillside Gardens. NOTE: Unlike the current development at the BRT site (4 three family townhouse development) Hillside Gardens was a a larger 28 unit, 2 bedroom project.
Citing traffic concerns, due mostly to the conversion of single family homes to multi-family homes in the neighborhood that includes Virginia Ave, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Street, outraged residents came to the Planning Commission Public Hearing on the project in March, April and May to express their numerous problems with BRT’s Hillside Gardens development proposal.
Here’s a sample of the comments from the public opposition:
CLICK HERE to download the public hearing minutes (word file)
Barbara Noone, 99 Hospital Ave., for 12 years, right across from proposed driveway location. This is a heavy traffic area. Why take down all the trees and put up multi family developments. The roads in this neighborhood are so clogged because of all the conversions from one to three family houses.
This is the most dangerous curve on Hospital Ave and the entrance to this project should not be here….Why do we have to have condominiums everywhere, why can’t we have trees anymore?
Roy Hager Jr., 90 Hospital Ave., …BRT should consider the neighbors. There already are water pressure problems and although they have asked the City for help, nothing has been done. Agreed that this is a dangerous location for the driveway. Described some motor vehicle accidents and gave his opinion on the traffic issues. Said there is no need for something like this to go there.
April 6 2005:
Alan Messan, 101 Hospital Ave., across the street from subject property. Said he is speaking for Noone’s of 99 Hospital who had death in family and could not be here tonight. Said the most important thing is that this is a very sharp curve on a dangerous hill meaning it is a treacherous place for this development.
In response, Planning commission member Kenneth Keller made the following remarks:
Mr. Keller said he was there several times especially during monsoon and has major concerns about traffic and the sight line. Said people always drive too fast on this road. Said he is concerned about the density and the necessary blasting. Mr. Blaszka reiterated Mr. Keller’s comments. Said he has made two site visits, one being tonight, when he was driving into sun and totally blinded. Could not see traffic coming in other direction until it is right upon you.
April 20 2005:
On this date, before the pubic expressed their opposition to the project, Traffic Engineer Bruce Hilson made the following observation when he made a site visit to the location of the proposal project:
Visibility is very poor.
Now the public:
Will Hager, 90 Hospital Ave, submitted a petition with 51 signatures against this project, believe this project is monolithic in nature and request that it be downsized. Also driveway is in a poor position and a traffic hazard. Wall along back of project abuts their properties and they do not know what is happening with that.
Alan Messan, 101 Hospital Ave. this is quality of life issue. Haven’t heard people from Danbury speak- all of their experts are from out of town. Nothing else like this in the neighborhood. Improving the site lines is good thing but when adding 60 or more cars per day, it will not make much of a difference. Last week it took him seven minutes to get out of his driveway. Suggested they check the Police report.
Barbara Noone, 99 Hospital Ave., they can try to improve site line by taking down neighbors grade but they can’t take the hill out of the road. Asked where is Jeffery Court? There are no street signs for it. Will they need a traffic light at the bottom of hill where it meets Germantown Rd. The trees that are blocking the view will be naked in the winter and they will be looking at the back of the condos. Safety is the big concern here. The School being there means that a lot of kids walk on this road. Also there is a fire station at bottom of hill. There are ambulances and emergency vehicles traveling on this road all day and night.
Jeannie Chapin, Third St. in the morning cannot get out of her driveway then has to wait to get onto Virginia Ave. cannot travel on Hospital Ave. any longer. Has to circumvent the area. The traffic problem is insane, the water runoff is bad too. BRT put up a slab house on her street and it has caused drainage problems. Begging for no more multi-family communities in Danbury.
Renee Sturges, 88 Hospital Ave., said here house will back up to the second building. There is a major traffic problem here and she would like to see some research on traffic incidents on this road. Someone ran into her tree last year while speeding up the hill, luckily no one was hurt. Can’t let her children play in front yard. Getting out into traffic in the morning is already a problem so concerned about location of driveway.
John Noone, 99 Hospital Ave., said current sightline is 120 feet. Said he used to use this area to store his leaves from the fall to spring. Cannot see if a car is coming have to rely on hearing a car coming. Witnessed many accidents had them land in his front yard. Reason for accidents is because road is only wide enough to support one vehicle on each side. When road gets wet, it becomes like black ice in summer and in winter, it is always slick. Rainy weather always results in people losing control. Children walk on this road, nurses walk on their lunch hour, and runners use it too. Biggest culprits of speeding are buses. proposed trees will block the sightline. People traveling on this road are not going to be watching the driveway to see if anyone is coming out.
May 4 2005:
Feeling the heat from the residents, this is Dan Bertram of BRT said during the meeting:
Dan Bertram, BRT, said he has taken step back to try to figure out what can be done on this parcel. It is located at the end of a residential neighborhood. He met with some of the neighbors trying to address their concerns. Trying to create a transition from residential to commercial area. Amendments to R3 Zone last year were to try to control the multitude of conversions from single family dwellings to three family dwellings that overtook this area. Set out to incorporate garden apartment community on this site. Tried to show various perspectives but the galvanizing issue on this site is the traffic. Realizes this is a dangerous curve. Has tried to address helicopter path comments. Said they just received a report from the Planning Department and will address it. Asked for feedback from Commission members too. They are trying to address whatever they can.
And then the pubic spoke out again…this time, in the form of a petition against the proposal.
Will Hager, 90 Hospital Ave. submitted petition with ninety names in opposition.
May 18 2005:
Betty Jane Dinto, Triangle St., since 1944, has seen many changes in Danbury. Point of zoning law is to allow the citizens to benefit. To continue to allow multi family units to be built is not to the benefit of all the citizens….Purpose of zoning is for slow healthy change. Thought Mayor was going to institute a five year moratorium.
Robert Beers, City of Danbury Highway Dept employee, happens to live on Third St. His plow route is Hospital Ave. and they all know how dangerous this road is. The location of this driveway will make it very hard to move traffic in and out safely
Alan Messan, 101 Hospital Ave., asked audience to raise hands so the Commission can see how many of them there are. Said BRT has threatened to sue Mr. Keller quickly corrected him saying that was not in the record. Said it is violation of the Zoning Regulations to cut a new driveway across from his.
Joe CarCare, Birch St., for five years. One of older houses in area. Some of concerns are safety and snow removal appearance of neighborhood. Sure this will be beautiful but it will still be condos. And there will be a parking lot. What about the drainage once this is cut out.
Again, this is a small sample of the public’s opposition to the development proposed by BRT at this location back in 2005, and although this is a different development than what’s being built there now, the traffic concerns are the same.
On July 20 2005, the Planning Commission issued a resolution of denial to the project.
Here are two of the commission’s most important concerns:
CLICK HERE to download (word file).
The proposal is not designed in a manner which is compatible with the character of the neighborhood §10.C.4.a.(2).
In addition to provisions of §10.C.4. of the Zoning Regulations, §8-2 of the Connecticut General Statutes requires that zoning regulations be made “…with reasonable consideration as to the character of the district and its peculiar suitability for particular uses…”
The existing neighborhood consists largely of single family homes mixed with a limited number of two and three family dwellings. The proposed development consists of three row house buildings, two of which are interconnected by underground parking and presented as one building. These proposed buildings contain eight dwelling units each. Rather than being one unit deep, as are other residential buildings in the neighborhood, they each consist of buildings which are two units deep, resulting in a building mass considerable greater than other buildings in the adjacent neighborhood.
In addition, the proposed buildings are situated on the crest of a hill overlooking First Avenue. In many places, the base of the buildings will appear to be approximately 30 feet above the street and existing adjacent residences. Consequently, even though the proposed buildings comply with the height restrictions of the R-3 zoning district (30’), the topography of this particular site will result in building elevations far greater than that of surrounding dwellings when viewed within the context of the neighborhood.
The Planning Commission cannot determine reasonable requirements to ensure compliance with §10.C.4.a.(2) of the Zoning Regulations.
1. The proposal will create conditions adversely affecting traffic safety or which will cause undue traffic congestion (§10.C.4.a.(3).
2. Westbound vehicular access to the proposed site is from Hospital Avenue, a continuously curving road segment that is impeded by the steepness of the slope (13%± grade) from its intersection with First Street to the proposed driveway. This road provides major access to the neighborhood, Broadview Middle School, the Danbury Hospital and other medical offices. In addition to private vehicles, Hospital Avenue is used by school buses and ambulances.
3. The applicant’s traffic engineer has estimated that the proposed development will generate 218 vehicular trips per day for a 28 dwelling unit development, a number which we presume will be proportionately less for the amended 24 unit proposal. Police accident reports were submitted by members of the public attesting to a number of accidents that have occurred at the sharp curve near the crest of the hill since 2000.
4. We find that additional traffic entering and exiting the site will increase traffic on Hospital Avenue and thus adversely affect traffic safety because of the steepness of the hill and sharp curve of the road. We are also mindful of provisions of §8-2 of the C.G.S. which state, in part, that “…regulations shall be designed to lessen congestion in the streets…” Adding vehicular trips on this segment of Hospital Avenue clearly will not lessen congestion.
Again, realize that the proposal in 2005 was a larger project but that does not change the concerns from the residents who have serious problems with a MULTI-FAMILY project at that particular location on Hospital Ave.
In response to the Planning Commission denial, BRT took the city to court, and LOST.
CLICK HERE to download document: (word file)
BRT appealed the court’s ruling…and LOST again.
CLICK HERE to download document: (pdf file)
That basically brings up to date on the history of opposition against BRT developing this piece of land.
In future posts, I’ll explain how the infamous residential developer worked around the court’s ruling to develop the land. You’ll also hear what residents who fought the original development proposal have to say regarding what BRT is doing to their neighborhood.