October 17, 2017

Plains Rd. Development of 52 New Homes in Essex Scheduled to Begin … Finally

Building site for 52 new homes on Plains Rd., just out of downtown Essex. Photo by Jerome Wilson.

ESSEX — It has been a long time coming, but the “green light” is finally turned on for the construction of 52 new housing units known as Essex Station. The units, which comprise a three-building apartment complex with an affordable housing component, will be constructed on a 3.7-acre parcel on Plains Rd. that includes the long-vacant former Iron Chef restaurant property and previously, a movie theater. Heading out of town from the town center of Essex, the new building site is on right hand side of Plains Rd., just past the tracks of the Valley Steam Train.

The application from Signature Contracting Group LLC was submitted under state statute 8-30g, a law intended to promote additional affordable housing in Connecticut.  It was originally approved by the Essex Zoning Commission on June 20, 2016.

The statute limits the jurisdiction of municipal land use commissions to issues of public health and safety, while requiring that at least 30 percent of the dwelling units in a development be designated affordable housing and reserved for people or families with incomes at or less than 80 percent of the median income for the municipality. At least 16 of the Essex Station units will be designated as moderate income housing with monthly rents expected to be about $1,800.

Weeks after the zoning commission’s approval of the special permit for the Essex Station apartment complex on June 20, the applicant filed a resubmission that asked the commission to revise or rescind three of the 10 conditions that were part of the panel’s 4-1 vote of approval.

One disputed condition related to the requirement for a six-foot security fence around the perimeter of the property. The second related to a requirement for elevators in the three buildings, which was described as, “impractical and unnecessary,” making the floor plans infeasible. The third disputed condition involved the height of the three buildings.

The issues related to all three conditions were resolved at a Sept. 19 Essex Zoning Commission meeting and construction by the Signature Contracting Group LLC  is now scheduled to begin as early as February.

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