The New Fairfield Zoning Commission held a special meeting to hear a follow up presentation regarding a proposed primary care medical facility located at 132 Route 37. Architects and attorneys representing New Fairfield Medical, LLC made a presentation that addressed outstanding issues for a proposed 10,870 square foot building and grounds on the 2.3-acre parcel of land.
Architect John Doyle noted that the placement of an employee entrance had been moved from the side of the building to the rear and that a widow’s walk had been added to the roof. The latter, he said, would more effectively hide the HVAC and other mechanicals.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, New Fairfield resident Rick Penza stated that he did not see a need for another commercial building in town, noting that there were too many empty storefronts in town already.
The Committee’s discussion centered around the proposed storm management system. The Town’s engineer had noted the plan was sufficient for the proposed 54 spaces with acceptable expansion to 81 in the future if necessary.
The Commission approved the application. Commission Chair John Moran reminded the applicants that they must return to present a finalized sign design that fit the size and structure of other signage in the area.
The Commission then continued its discussion of short-term rentals. It was agreed that short term rentals would refer to rentals of one to six days. The owner must be present on the property during the rental term or must own and occupy an adjacent property. All potential landlords must make an application to the town for certification. The town, the fire marshal, zoning, and the health department will inspect each property and there will be a $500 application fee.
If a complaint is lodged against the landlord, the complaint would be reviewed by Zoning to determine if there was a violation. If a landlord were to accrue three violations, they would lose their right to rent. No on-street parking would be allowed for short term rentals, but landlords will be required to provide enough off-street parking for renters. Homeowners must also maintain their septic systems and have tanks pumped regularly. There would be no more than two guests per bedroom. Mr. Moran confirmed this and added this point to the list of stipulations.
In the ensuing discussion was the matter of whether the $500 fee should be a one-time or annual fee. It was noted that at the previous meeting, it had been decided it would be an annual fee. Upon further discussion it was decided to make the fee for the application only. Violation fines would be set at $250 per occurrence. There was discussion about whether those fees should be reversed, i.e. $250 for application and
$450 for violation. The Commission members decided they will think about the fees prior to the next meeting.
There was also discussion about how to verify the number of renters on a given property. At first the general thought was that the neighbors would act as a defector monitoring system, and that they would most likely be apt to report such a violation. The suggestion was made by Zoning Enforcement Officer Evan White that the property owner submit a sample ad biannually, or every season along with an affidavit stating the maximum number of renters for the property.
The next steps are to send the proposed stipulations to be reviewed by legal counsel. Once that has been done, they will be posted on the Town’s website and a final public hearing date shall be set.
The next regular Zoning Commission meeting is Wed., February 6 at 7:30pm.
By Greg Slomba