by Jeff Toquinto
BRIDGEPORT NEWS EDITOR
Six months after the project was first announced, the Bridgeport Planning Commission granted its approval of site development for a disputed apartment complex on Crestview Terrace.
The approval came Monday after a public hearing that lasted more than an hour-and-a-half at the Benedum Civic Center.
Despite protests from area residents, the Planning Commission voted 5-1 to approve a plan that will allow Construction Management Consultants of Morgantown to build a 48-unit apartment complex at the end of Crestview Terrace. Commission member Richard Forren was the dissenting vote.
Barring a legal challenge of the ruling, the only way the apartment complex can be stopped is if state regulatory agencies reject CMC's development and infrastructure plans.
Those agencies are the state Health Department and the Division of Environmental Protection. CMC's Dave Biafora doesn't believe their approval will be a problem.
Monday night's decision appears to put an end to residents' hopes of having the apartment property rezoned. Residents had asked the city to change the zoning from Residential-3, which allows for multi-family units such as apartments, to R-1, which allows only single-family residential units.
The commission, as it has done previously, pointed to an agreement between the city and property owner Ray Blake to designate the property R-3 upon its annexation in June 1999.
The city and the Planning Commission have said they agreed to the R-3 zoning to have some control over development in the area. If the property had not been annexed, city officials said, they would have had no control over development, and the apartments would already have been built without any density or construction guidelines.
"We're caught between a rock and a hard place," said acting Planning Commission President Rodney Kidd.
Although sympathizing with several passionate pleas -- including ones from residents Diana Marra and Clarence Robinson -- the commission found that the developer had met all of his legal requirements.
Editor's Note: Jeff Toquinto is the editor of The Bridgeport News. To read a more detailed account of Monday's meeting, pick up the Wednesday edition of The Bridgeport News. To comment on this story or to subscribe, call 842-8840.