June 5, 2020

Essex Planning Commission Approves Three-Lot Resubdivision on Toby Hill Road

ESSEX— The planning commission has approved a three-lot resubdivision of a 12.38-acre parcel off Toby Hill Road in the Ivoryton section, a step that could lead to a connection from Ivoryton to a heavily developed section of the road in Westbrook.

The commission approved the resubdivision on Jan. 12 after a two-part public hearing that began in November. The plan by developer Paul Vumbaco of Meriden calls for three building lots on 5.94 acres, and a donation of the Essex Land Trust of 6.38 acres of open space land. The lots in Essex would receive access from a common driveway off Joseph Circle, a new subdivision road extending off Toby Hill Road in Westbrook. Joseph Circle would end at a cul-de-sac in Essex.

Toby Hill Road is an old town roadway that extends from Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton north to intersect with McVeagh Road in Westbrook. The larger section of Toby Hill Road in Westbrook has been heavily developed in recent years, with numerous homes and new roads extending off it.

Vumbaco has already received approval for a seven-lot subdivision of about 22 acres located off Toby Hill Road in Westbrook. These lots would also be served by Joseph Circle.

Concerns about a possible connector road from the development off Toby Hill Road in Westbrook leading to the difficult intersection of Toby Hill Road and Pond Meadow Road inĀ  Ivoryton led the planning commission last winter to recommend abandonment of the small section of Toby Hill Road in Ivoryton. John Guszkowski, the town’s consulting planner, had noted in a memo the intersection has “a steep approach from Toby Hill Road, poor sight lines and unfavorable topography.”

The board of selectmen discussed the commission’s recommendation last March, but took no action on a process that would have required approval from voters at a town meeting.

Guszkowski said Friday the developer has agreed to pay for improvements to Toby Hill Road in the vicinity of the planned Joseph Circle, but has not pledged to help pay for improvements to the intersection of Toby Hill Road and Pond Meadow Road in Ivoryton. Guszkowski said it remains an “open question” whether the intersection of the two roads requires improvements, and whether Essex town funds would be needed to pay for improving the intersection.

The section of Joseph Circle in Ivoryton would include a small parking area providing access to the 6.38 acres of open space land, which abuts other undeveloped open space land in Ivoryton and Westbrook. The developer would also be required to pay for a 30,000-gallon underground water storage tank to provide fire protection for the subdivision.