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Developer submits new zoning amendments for Seaside

By Tess Townsend

Publication: theday.com

Published May 20. 2014 4:44PM   Updated May 20. 2014 11:53PM

Waterford — Farmington-based developer Mark Steiner has submitted a new proposal to amend zoning regulations of the Seaside Preservation Zoning District, withdrawing the request for changes he submitted in April.

A file on Steiner’s new application in the land use office shows that he submitted the application on Friday. Also in the file is a letter dated Monday from Steiner’s attorney, Lewis Wise, requesting that Planning and Zoning Commission member Dana Award recuse himself from proceedings related to the application.

Planning Director Dennis Goderre said Tuesday that a public hearing on the new proposal has been set for June 25.

The basic changes proposed in the original application remain in the new proposal. Both proposals would allow for construction of an inn with a maximum of 40 lodging rooms and would privatize roads inside the proposed condo and resort development.

The new proposal expands upon and changes the wording of what Steiner previously submitted and appears to conform to changes suggested in a May 1 memorandum of staff comments addressed to architect Michael Cegan, whose firm Richter & Cegan Inc. has worked with Steiner throughout the process of planning development for Seaside.

In the memorandum, Goderre requested a preliminary traffic analysis and asked for more information about what it would mean to add an inn, among other things. He also wrote that a section of the current regulations implies that no demolition of historic structures would be allowed, which he wrote conflicted with another section’s apparent intention to allow demolition.

The proposal submitted Friday apparently addresses the conflict by changing the use of phrases such as “adaptive reuse” and references to renovation, to state that historic structures may be preserved, renovated, rehabilitated or reconstructed. Reconstruction would entail demolishing the buildings and building them using original materials and materials reproduced to look like those from the original structures.

The new proposal expands the explanation for uses of an inn to state that any restaurant in the inn would seat a maximum of 60 people, banquet facilities there would accommodate a maximum of 150 guests and the inn “may rent and maintain individual dwelling units at the option of the owner(s) of the units.”

Additionally, rather than stating that historic structures can be “repositioned” on the site, the new request states that the structures can be “moved to new locations.”

Steiner, the state’s preferred developer for the $8 million property at Seaside, submitted a proposal for zoning changes for the Seaside property last month, after more than a year of inactivity with the proposed development.

The property, on Long Island Sound off Shore Road, is on the National Register of Historic Places and formerly housed an institution for the developmentally disabled. Two buildings on the property were designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert.

Goderre said Tuesday that the new proposal was received by the commission at its meeting Monday. Staff in the land use office said the new materials were not discussed at the meeting. The commission’s receipt of the materials did not appear on the meeting’s agenda as of Monday morning.

Town attorney Robert Avena said Tuesday that state statute requires the commission to acknowledge receipt of new materials at the first meeting that follows after materials have been submitted.

Avena said he was working to set up a time to meet with Award to discuss whether Award should participate in voting on the proposal.

The letter from Wise states that Award recused himself from proceedings in 2011, when Steiner submitted a different set of proposed zoning changes. The letter states that Award should recuse himself because he has already stated a bias against Steiner’s development and that Award is disqualified from participating in proceedings regardless because his property abuts Seaside.

“And you have a further personal interest in this matter due to your wife’s filing an appeal of the 2003 approval by the Commission of the regulations creating the Seaside zoning district,” the letter further states.

Steiner and Wise did not return requests for comment.

t.townsend@theday.com

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