Neighbors Not Happy with West Woods Apartments

The commission won't vote on the application for 50 apartment units at 55 West Woods Road until next month.


Members of the public waited more than two hours Tuesday to voice their opinion of the application to put 50 apartments at 55 West Woods Rd., but in the end only two people got to speak for a few minutes each.

But the rest will get their chance next month, when the Planning and Zoning Commission concludes its public hearing on the application from West Woods Properties for the site that had been approved for a 90-room hotel before the economy went south.

On Tuesday, the commission heard from land use attorney Tim Hollister that the two applications are very similar and that the latest is actually a less intense use than the one that had already won approval four years ago. 

The apartments are being proposed under the state Affordable Housing Act which, Hollister said, can be somewhat confusing. Many equate it with federal affordable housing programs that provide subsidises, which this doesn't, he said.

The state Affordable Housing statutes aim to provide affordable housing for people earning between $40,000 and $70,000 a year, he said. If a town does not have 10 percent of its housing units deed restricted as affordable, it is subjected to the town statutes. While affordable units are available in Hamden, its stock of deed restricted units is only about 6 to 7 percent, Town Planner Leslie Creana said, so the town falls under the mandate of the act.

And as such, the commission is limited in what it can do with an application filed under the state Affordable Housing statutes. The burden of proof shifts to the town, which can only deny an application if it shows that it presents a danger to the health, welfare and safety to the town. Otherwise, it's fairly easy for a developer to take the town to court and win under the statutes.

Hollister laid out the plans for the complex: 50 units on 5.8 acres, including 39 two-bedroom units and 11 one-bedroom units with the affordable units interspersed within the market-rate units. The affordable units would range from $800 to $1,300 a month.


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But one group who won't be living in them is students, Hollister vowed. He was involved in a similar situation with AvalonBay's Town Walk complex in Hamden and was able to successfully get a caveat written in that precluded renting to undergraduate students, he said, and would do the same here.

The prospect of the units being rented to Quinnipiac University students was one of the neighbor's biggest concerns.

The developer's application is divided into three parts: rezoning the property to a newly zone created specifically for this development, approving the zone for the site and approving the plans for the property.

Asst. Town Planner Dan Kops read off a lengthy list of concerns the department has with the application and because of them, can't at this time recommend approval. But Hollister said he didn't hear anything that he thinks can't be worked out.

The hearing was continued to the commission's next meeting Nov. 13, when the public will have a chance to speak. But two residents were able to get their comments in before the meeting was adjourned Tuesday night.

"Setting up a special zone to make it easier for them seems crazy to me," said Still Hill Road resident Peter Schwartz. He's not opposed to affordable housing, he said, adding that he worked as a social worker for 35 years, but giving the developer so much leeway is a "slippery slope."

And the prospect of blasting is disconcerting, he said. The developer said they will be taking more than 51,000 yards of material out of the site in order to "tuck in" the building to the topography, and much of that material will need to be blasted.

The trucks that will remove that material are a concern to West Woods Road resident Sue Dennis, who said that traffic on that road is already difficult. 

"There is a good reason why zoning requires that multi-families are put on a major road," she said. "West Woods Road is a totally inappropriate road -- it's curvy and steep and already has too much traffic."

cheryl October 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM
NOW IT'S BEING MADE PUBLIC- AGENDA 21 http://www.dickmorris.com/agenda-21-obamas-plans-for-america/?utm_source=dmreports&utm_medium=dmreports&utm_campaign=dmreports
Ted B October 10, 2012 at 09:42 PM
West Woods Road has become a disaster near the intersection of Whitney Avenue, especially when the Quinnipiac Polling Institute lets their employees out. They come out in a steady stream forever. I was in the little plaza where Subway is the other night and it took me literally 25 minutes to take a right out of the parking lot because of it. I'm not going to be anxious to go back to those stores, which are going to pay the price for that place being next door. Put 50 apartments up the street and it's going to get worse.
cheryl October 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM
They dont care about your waiting to exit- they care about stack them and pack them into this hi-density, vertical swall,diversity, inc. LOW income apartments close to the street w/ retail space under them to prevent using cars, and land space. this is clearly the UN agenda 21 format. But just think about this- your property taxes are going to these NGO's ( non gov organizations) who do the bidding for the UN. This is not good as you see their definintion of LAND above- land for the collective not the individual. So forget about owning a one family home. That will be gone in their future.
Nick R. October 12, 2012 at 11:05 AM
West woods has always been one of the nicest parts of Hamden specifically because it's quiet and off the beaten path. When you are in that section of town it can sometimes be easy to forget that there is a town and shopping centers etc. only a few miles away. Now they want to come in and ruin that peaceful serenity and seclusion, deface the land, among other bad things? I say no! Leave West woods alone and go build your complex somewhere down in New Haven, or atleast in a part of Hamden where big ugly apartment buildings blend in with the surrounding territory.
MB October 19, 2012 at 03:44 PM
West Woods has become terribly congested with QU traffic and the like. I couldn't be more distressed to hear of this plan. I have nothing against new housing, affordable housing or anything that brings jobs to town. But this is NOT the area to put 50 units which will undoubtedly bring at least 100 vehicles. The town recently conducted a survey to "Calm" West Woods traffic. They indicated that they received over 400 responses and are looking at many roads including the very busy West Woods. How does bringing this many people into an already clogged area help with traffic? It's just terrible. We're planning to attend the 11/13 public meeting. Hopefully many neighbors in this area will do the same. It would be great if the town allowed us to have a voice at the hearing, too.


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