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Public Hearing On Stonegate Village Gets Heated And To Be Continued

Third Garden Park re-applied to lift the age restriction and add affordable housing units to the retirement community.

 

Haughty attorney presentations, outbursts of mockery and accusations of bribery were among the highlights of Thursday’s public hearing of Third Garden Park’s re-application to convert , a retirement community on Flintlock Road, into an all-ages affordable housing mobile home park.

At one point, Richard Freedman, a partner in Third Garden Park, stood up and yelled at the group of Stonegate Village residents and members of the public for their belittling comments about the company’s efforts to market the development.

Order was restored quickly and Brendan Shain, an attorney representing Third Garden Park, continued with his explanation of the new application.

The original intentions for Stonegate Village was to build 80 lots on the property, which is just less than 20 acres, but the applicants are now proposing to divide up the property into separate lots and sell 22 of the homes to people of all ages.

The balance of the remaining 58 sites will be reserved for people who are 55 years old or older.

“On paper it looks good but reality it’s no good,” said Larry Helfrich, a Stonegate Village resident.

The community center would be shared with children and residents of the all-ages development, which caused great concern among some Stonegate Village residents.

“They should build a fence as high as the sky to keep those kids on the other side,” said one resident.

Another countered and said the lease states that fences higher than 3-feet are prohibited.

“So what does our lease mean? We should use it for toilet paper,” said another.

Accusations of Bribery

Then four residents stood up and denied the information submitted by Third Garden Park’s attorneys in a . The document implied or stated that some residents accepted money in exchange for their support of lifting the age restriction.

“We never have and have no intention and have not received, signed or agreed to anything like that,” said Laurie Lavoie. “This document is false and in my opinion this is not a legal document.”

Some conversation took place over the intention of the document, and although the documents were signed, the four residents denied knowledge of the documents or at least, its meaning, which also wasn’t clear to anyone in the room nor was it explained right then.

“Was it a survey or was it a signed offer and acceptance between the respondents,” asked Vince Whittle, of the Zoning Commission.

“At no time did I take a bribe of $5,000. This is an example of corporate greed on the backs of seniors,” said resident Diane Bassler.

People in the audience murmured that it was a bribe and Zoning Commission Chair Eric Treaster said the language of the document was heavy with double-negatives.

Shain didn’t have all the documentation on hand to explain it but all agreed that no money had been exchanged.

History

“We can’t scale back the proposal and do all the conditions, that’s simply not viable,” said Shain.

Freedman said that the collected verbiage of Treaster’s conditions was cost prohibitive and, “it would be pretty difficult to agree with the bulk of those.”

“You insist that home that are designed for Oklahoma be permitted,” said Treaster to Attorney Shain. “But I won’t allow that.”

Treaster was referring to mobile homes that do not have weatherized features like slanted roofs and vinyl siding.

 Freedman said some things are non-negotiable:

  • The developer cannot be required to offer more than seven affordable housing units in the all-ages portion.
  • He said some of the aesthetic criteria is extremely expensive to comply with. He said the required roof pitch and extending the vinyl skirting down to the ground, for example, adds up to $10,000 per unit.

Vince Whittle cited a study that indicated that developments that are successful have invested in amenities.

Bassler said she’d like the Commission to maintain the community that she invested in.

Shain told members of the Zoning Commission that it they are permitted to approve the application and that all the breached leases would be a civil matter and that the Commission shouldn’t worry about it.

Timothy Bates, an attorney representing residents of Stonegate Village, said that the Commission should respect the legal contracts of the residents who invested in a developing community of people over the age of 55.

The 2-hour meeting came down to either side’s willingness to compromise on the roof pitch of the units sold in the all-ages community and the presence of children in the age-restricted portion.

The public hearing will continue on Thursday, July 26.

Pedro July 13, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I think Ledyard should have all the mobile home parks it can hold-after all, it is nothing more than an American Southern town in Pilgrim clothing! These places pay scant property taxes and have no incentive to improve a property that is depreciating all the while!!
joe July 14, 2012 at 12:53 AM
My family owns 80 plus acres and I get a hassle if I want to build a house! If this passes,ever, Im going double wide baby! I might even buy a broke down car to put in front for a decoration.
cooking mom July 14, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Many typos and missing words in this article. As for the pronouncements of the astute individuals above, I don't think Ledyard's standards are quite so high. To scoff at mobile homes is really not fair when we allow folks to pile trash on the side of the road in front of their houses for months without recourse. I think we all need to focus on taking care of the property that we have and cleaning up the roadways in Ledyard. I do feel for the residents of Stonegate.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards & Winery July 14, 2012 at 05:17 PM
This proposal will only increase taxes to all ledyard taxpayers. A retirement community by defination has no school age children. "Affordable Housing" does. Connecticut requires a minimun expendature, per child in school of around $10,000 per child per year. This money comes from our state and local taxes. I.E. out of our back pocket. Last tax year Ledyard's Board of Ed present Ledyard tax payers with a ZERO Increase budget. Changing Stonegate to affordable housing will increase the number of children in Ledyard schools without an increase in taxes to cover this increased education cost! Ledyard already pays the highest taxes in Eastern Connecticut, I see no reason to increase our taxes even more! Dump this proposal and lets get bacs to balancing our budgets!

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