Debate over accommodations for young people – both preschool and college age – took precedence at many Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission meetings in the last year.
And the same issues are likely to come up again in 2012, beginning with the panel’s first meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 10) when Quinnipiac parking and new town sign regulations are scheduled to be discussed.
Here’s a look at what took place in 2011, and what may be to come:
The most contentious issue of the year was the debate over whether owner Suzanne Miller should be allowed to open a second site in a vacant barn, once the English furniture shop, at 2860 Whitney Ave.
Neighbors who argued against the proposal cited concerns over safety, and increased traffic on the access road the facility would share with the Charlton Hill condominium complex.
After several hearings that spanned more than a year, the commission approved the plan in July. Last fall a sign advertising the new location was posted briefly on Whitney Avenue. Since then plans have stalled, not because of neighborhood opposition but apparently due to delays in reaching an agreement between the day care owner and the English family, who owns the property
Another Day Care:
The owner of the on Benham Street won approval to convert the former Colonial Tymes restaurant at 2389 Dixwell Ave. to an early learning center that would serve infants through kindergarten age children. Work is underway on that site, and owner Amy Small tells Hamden Patch she hopes to open in March.
Extensive renovations and site work are underway on the former Mount Carmel Library at 3011 Whitney Ave., which will become Quinnipiac University’s “Irish Great Hunger Institute,” an extensive collection of books and artifacts from the famine of the late 1800's.
Attorney Bernard Pellegrino tells Hamden Patch an opening is planned for the late summer or early fall of this year. The proposal drew some opposition, mainly from residents who expressed general concerns about Quinnipiac’s expansion and the removal of buildings from the tax rolls.
The annual hearing on the University’s parking plan, which usually takes place in the fall, was continued to Tuesday (Jan. 10) so commission members could look over new data on parking and student population.
In the past, the parking review has often become an occasion for neighbors to comment to Quinnipiac officials about other problems, particularly with students living off-campus. A separate meeting on student housing issues will be held January 24.
The Sound Development Group was given the go-ahead in July to build 30 townhouse-style apartments at a former industrial site on 190 Pine Rock Rd.
Sound Development will manage the units and rent them to 120 students from Southern Connecticut State University, which abuts the Pine Rock property. Vacant buildings on the site have been demolished.
In August, Cherry Hill Wines & Spirits moved from 1869 Dixwell Avenue (next to Price Rite) to a smaller space in the family-owned store’s original home, across the street at 1890 Dixwell. At the time, owner Bhvana Parikh said the opening of competing stores nearby had hurt her business. State law regulates how many liquor stores each city and town may have, but each individual application must be approved by local officials.
Another family member, Chirag Parikh, applied for a permit to open a liquor store at 4133 Whitney Avenue, the former gift shop. The commission turned down that proposal in September amid neighbors’ concerns about traffic and the possibility of increased drunk driving in the area.
Parikh hasn’t given up, though, and tells Hamden Patch he plans to take the issue to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
In April, the commission recommended against designating the Ivesville section of town, in the Ives Street/Broadway/Whitney Avenue area, as a Historic District.
The designation would restrict how owners could alter the appearance of their homes, but could also make them eligible for loans and grants.
The P and Z vote was only advisory. The Historic Properties Commission continued to study the issue last fall and plans to submit a report to Mayor Scott Jackson.
“The Space” Expands:
Early in 2011 owner Steve Rodgers was granted permission to open a second entertainment venue in the 295 Treadwell St. industrial park. The “Outer Space” opened in March and serves an over-21 audience. (The original “Space” is alcohol-free and is open to teenagers.)
Interior work is underway at 986 Dixwell Ave., where the Cornell Scott Hill Health Centeris planning to open a new clinic in the former Atlantic Electrical Supply building. Approval was granted in June 2011 with completion expected later this year.
Note: Hamden Patch contributor Laura Cannon also works part-time for radio station WQUN-AM, which is owned by Quinnipiac University.