Preston — The Preston Redevelopment Agency will meet Monday with local farmer Allyn Brown, owner of Maple Lane Farms, on an undisclosed development proposal for the former Norwich Hospital property.
Brown is one of four developers who have expressed interest in developing something at the former hospital property. The PRA will hear his proposal behind closed doors during a special meeting Monday, but the time has not yet been set for the meeting.
Brown said Thursday that he could not reveal details of his proposal until he presents it to the PRA and hears members’ reactions.
Nugent said Brown approved of the agency releasing his name to the public but not the name of a development firm or the nature of the proposal.
Brown’s Maple Lane Farms at 57 Northwest Corner Road has 120 acres of fruit and Christmas trees, with pick-your-own blueberries and raspberries in the summer, apples and pumpkins in the fall and Christmas trees in November and December. The farm also produces Currant Affair black currant juice sold in supermarkets and Living Lettuce hydroponic lettuce sold at local Stop & Shop supermarkets.
In the past, Brown has said he wants to expand the hydroponic operations to include other vegetables. He was looking for a large, flat parcel to build new hydroponic greenhouses.
“I’m glad that there’s someone in the region, in particular in the town, who is interested in doing development there,” First Selectman Robert Congdon said. “I have no idea what it is until we hear it. I could speculate, but it could be something totally different.”
Another undisclosed developer interested in Norwich Hospital has proposed building military housing there.
Currently, the town’s zoning regulations for Norwich Hospital do not allow housing at all, but the Planning and Zoning Commission is close to completing draft new regulations that would allow housing as part of other development with certain conditions, Town Planner Kathy Warzecha said.
The commission will hold a public workshop at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Town Hall with the PRA to discuss the plan of conservation and development for the Norwich Hospital property and the proposed revised zoning regulations.
Warzecha said the housing portion of the regulation would create an overlay zone and would allow housing as part of another development. The draft regulation would restrict housing to no more than 30 percent of a proposed development, and at least 15 percent of the housing would need to be deemed affordable. The regulations would be flexible so that a housing developer could work with a commercial developer on a combined project, with no setback or separation requirements, Warzecha said.
The workshop will allow the PRA and the Planning and Zoning Commission to incorporate the Norwich Hospital property — now called Preston Riverwalk — plan of conservation and development into the townwide plan and Preston zoning regulations. Nugent said the hospital plan was developed last year by the PRA with assistance from engineering planning firm Fuss & O’Neill.
Once the hospital plan is complete, the land-use commission will hold a public hearing on the plan and vote on whether or not to adopt it. Then the commission would need to hold a public hearing and adopt the proposed new zoning regulations for the hospital property.
“We support the notion of incorporating this so that the town is operating from one perspective and regulations,” Nugent said of the hospital property plan of conservation and development.