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Phasing Out Town-Mandated Age Restrictions?

Another Company Asks For Waterford To Drop A 55-And-Older Age Restriction

Another developer, another request to remove the age restriction from Waterford’s zoning regulations.

In the summer of 2011, by asking the Planning and Zoning Commission to drop the 55-and-older age restriction in the Seaside district, so he could renovate the former sanatorium into high-end condos. The commission , saying the restriction limited the market to the point the property was not marketable.

Now White Knight Development LLC, an Old Lyme company, is asking for the same thing. White Knight Development is requesting the Planning and Zoning Commission drop the age restriction in all R-20 and all R-40 zones, likely so they can build a condominium complex at 317 Rope Ferry Road, home of the historic MacKenzie Barn. 

“Changing times and trends have shown locally and nationally that age-restricted communities are often not in the best interest of the community, and in this case the regulation does not serve Waterford’s long term planning needs,” wrote Matt Berger, a New London lawyer representing White Knight Development, in a letter to the Waterford Planning and Zoning Commission.

White Knight Development is also asking for the commission to drop the minimum acreage from 50 acres to 10 acres for development in those zones, necessary because 317 Rope Ferry Road, a piece of property the company owns, is 12 acres.

The 55-and-older age restriction mandates that residents must be at least 55 years old to buy a property in that zoning area.

Background

On June 6, 2011, White Knight Development bought 317 Rope Ferry Road from Hugh MacKenzie, a former First Selectman of Waterford, for $533,000. , White Knight President Lisa Wadge said she was planning on keeping the house on the property, and was looking into keeping the historic MacKenzie Barn.

Since, White Knight has done some minor work on the home on the property, at least painting the outside. Then on March 26 the company submitted an application to the Planning and Zoning Commission to remove the 55-and-older age restriction and the minimum acreage for development from 50 acres to 10 for all R-20 and R-40 zones (317 Rope Ferry Road is in an R-40 zone).

In his letter, Berger said without those two restrictions, companies will still be able to be environmentally-conscious and neighborhood-friendly with their development. R-40 and R-20 zones encourage “green” and low-impact development, and this will still happen, Berger argues.

“The proposed Planned Residential Development regulation 3.17 would help Waterford ensure the development of housing projects that provide for open space and a livable community and maximize the efficiency created through Green design, to be designed in a manner that is sympathetic to the surrounding neighborhood and sensitive of the ability of the site and infrastructure to accommodate the project,” Berger writes. “The proposed changes would provide for increased design efficiency that has a less impacts on infrastructure than would be expected in an unrestricted housing development.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission received the application Monday night, and will schedule a public hearing soon. Wadge did not respond to a Monday voicemail by Patch asking for comment.

Therese Foss April 10, 2012 at 10:59 AM
I think they should drop the restrictions. Let more young families move into Waterford so our kids can enjoy the area together. Removing the restrictions doesn't mean those 55 and older couldn't come too, and to me this doesn't strike me as a place tons of people want to retire to.
Carlotta April 11, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Not without careful scrutiny. Members of my family did retire to Waterford, into what was once called a NORC, which stands for "naturally occurring retirement community", and W'ford is all the better for that type of development. Looking at the success of Friendship school, the day care businesses around, and the businesses that cater to children I do not think that Waterford is lacking in "young families". Zoning changes are serious business, that do not have only short term implications, and outcomes. As a Waterford resident of an "in between age" who owns a home (that is shared with pre-k children and their mom) and lives near both locations, I think this matter requires serious thought and a great deal of research. "White Knight" indeed. The name implies someone who "saves the day" (and perhaps an impressive ego, I said perhaps), and I know that every municipality is looking for revenue, but at what future cost? An upscale "green" development on Shore Rd? That is blatant disregard for Waterford residents who struggled with choices about that property. How "green" would it be to have to examine traffic patterns, and install stoplights? And, by the way, who's cars are always parked at Seaside now? who lives there now? Waterford is a diversified and fairly well balanced town. Let us move forward carefully, and realize that very few actual White Knights survived the dark ages. Perhaps a few did, but do they live in Old Lyme? Why not in Waterford?
Jenelle April 11, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Note - the estate of Margaret MacKenzie (Hugh's sister) was the seller.

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