December 1, 2021

Essex Zoning Commission Continues Public Hearing on Dropping Over 55 Rule from Planned Bokum Road Condominiums

ESSEX— The zoning commission has continued to April the public hearing on a proposal to drop an over age 55 restriction on a Bokum Road housing complex approved in 2007, though the proposed change drew no direct opposition at the hearing Monday evening.

Essex Glen LLC has asked the commission to amend regulations related to the development that specified the units would be sold to persons age 55 or older. The proposed new wording eliminates the term “active adult community,” and instead states the residential community would be “targeted for but not limited to occupancy by persons age 55 or older.”

The commission in 2007 approved the 55-unit complex, with the age restriction, on an 11-acre parcel on the east side of Bokum Road near the Valley Railroad tracks. But the complex was never built after the economic crash and national recession that began in the fall of 2008.

Lawyer and regional Judge of Probate Terrance Lomme, repesenting Essex Glen LLC, said the developers were not able to market enough units with the over 55 age restriction. Lomme, who was elected judge of probate for the nine-town region in 2010, had represented the applicants during the 2007 approval process. This is the second Essex land use application Lomme has presented in recent weeks after also representing the developer of the proposed seven-lot Foxboro Point subdivision before the planning commission at a March 8 public hearing.

Lomme, assisted by a planner and a traffic engineer, maintained that dropping the over 55 rule would not result in a significant increase in the number of school age children at the complex, or a significant increase in traffic on Bokum Road, which connects Route 153 in Essex to Route 154 in Old Saybrook. He said that other than dropping the age restriction, “not one blade of grass,” has changed from the plan the commission approved in 2007. The commission will conduct another review of the site plan for the complex if it approves the proposed zoning text amendment.

While some of the handful of residents at the public hearing questioned the claims about no changes in traffic and no increase in school age children, no one spoke in direct opposition to the proposed change. The planning commission, which offers advisory opinions to the zoning commission, has endorsed deleting the over 55 age restriction for the planned development.

The commission continued the hearing to its April 16 meeting to give members an opportunity to review the information presented by the planner and the traffic consultant.