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West Hartford Town Council Moves to Preserve Neighborhoods With Zoning Change

Zoning change in response to application for a 15-unit apartment complex on Bishop Road.

In response to a developer’s plan to demolish two single-family homes and build a 15-unit apartment complex on Bishop Road, the West Hartford Town Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to amend the town’s zoning regulations to prevent similar developments from happening again.

Assistant Corporation Counsel Patrick Alair said, pursuant to state law, the zone change could not prevent developer KWK LLC from demolishing the homes located at 2 and 6 Bishop Road and building a multi-unit apartment complex in its place, as the application had been already been filed.

The two properties, which have now been combined, are zoned for multi-family use, meaning that the apartment complex's application does not have to come under further review by the Town Council.

The Town Council on Tuesday closed that loophole for similarly situated properties on Farmington Avenue that are supposed to serve as buffers for already-established neighborhoods on Farmington Avenue’s side streets.

A total of six properties - 10 Arlington Road, 26 Grennan Road, 8 Arnoldale Road, 6 Bishop Road, 8 Walbridge Road and 6 and 8 Lexington Road - had their zones changed from RM-1 or RM-3 multi-family to R-6 or R-10 single-family zones.

Alair noted that, even though the change in the zoning ordinance applies to 6 Bishop Road, it will not apply to the application now being considered by the town. But, if the application is withdrawn, or if the KWK got approval and decided not to pursue the project, then the zoning change would apply, Alair said.

The zoning change was prompted in no small part due to the outcry from nearby residents who objected to the size of the proposed apartment complex development, which is more than 20,000 square feet, substantially larger than any of the neighboring single-family homes.

Priscilla Mulvaney, who lives at 11 Bishop Road, said that her view would likely be that of a brick wall if and when that project is completed.

Attorney Robin Pearson, who represents KWK LLC, asked that the council deny the zoning change.

Pearson said that KWK is not doing anything “inappropriate, illegal or unconscionable” is actually doing something that has been consistent with zoning regulations for the last 90 years.

Nevertheless, the Town Council unanimously approved the zoning change.

“The demolition of older homes in town is not something I support,” Slifka said. “I find the  prospect of those homes being knocked down to be very sad. It’s a bad result.”

Slifka said that his comments were not meant to disparage the developer or the project.

“This is not a statement [against] multi-family [developments],” Slifka said. “It’s about protecting neighborhoods as they have developed. … I feel like if I don’t act, I implicitly support the demolition of homes on those locations for developments of any kind. I don’t want to make a statement like that. I do it with some sadness, as it does not address the current proposal. The developer has done nothing wrong, and it’s completely legal and they are trying to invest in the town, but it is unfortunate.”

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