CHESHIRE — A public hearing on the expansion of Marbridge Retirement Center on West Main Street was completed with no decision made by the Planning and Zoning Commission Monday night.
About 25 neighborhood residents attended to oppose the expansion and in some cases the existing facility.
Marbridge is a 25 unit residential care center that has been on the site since 1969. The owner, Louis Bower, is seeking to expand to a total of 50 residents.
Neighborhood residents were opposed after Marbridge representatives presented changes to the plan based on complaints voiced at the last public hearing.
The architect, Matt Williams, explained to commissioners and the public how changes were added to assuage neighbors’ concerns.
A walkway around the property was added, a six-foot tall metal fence on one side and a four-foot tall metal picket fence would surround the entire property, and 12 additional parking spaces were added.
Residents who spoke at the hearing said while they thought the changes were positive, they do not believe Marbridge belongs in the neighborhood.
“I don’t agree with the project at all. When I look out my living room window, I see Marbridge. When I look out my dining room window, I see Marbridge,” said neighbor, Rich Frappier. “The bottom line is it’s not a good idea. I’ll agree to knocking down the existing building and putting in something that’s reasonable.”
Another neighbor, Matt LaFrance, said despite the changes, he didn’t favor the expansion.
“I see a lot of positives, the things that have been addressed tonight have been positive, but a facility, in my opinion at 20,000 square feet is still too large,” he said. “Property values will be affected and I still feel it does not belong in our neighborhood.”
La France’s wife, Erica LaFrance, agreed with him, adding that she is also concerned about Marbridge residents.
“The second concern is the supervision of the residents. I see people with mental impairments, walking and and talking to themselves. How can five or six staff members know where the residents are?” she said. “I don’t understand how the same number of people will be able to monitor them.”
Bower has said that no more than five or six staffers are working at any one time.
Neighbors said that although the traffic patterns were approved by the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Cheshire Police Department, they were concerned about the children waiting at school bus stops in the neighborhood.
Attorney Jeff Cugno, read a statement by Bower that said how disappointed he was that after making the changes they had that the project was still unacceptable to neighbors.
“We’ve been in the planning stages for this for about a year and a half,” Cugno said.
Cugno added that despite comments about property values being lowered, there was no evidence that was accurate.
“There have been no records of any complaints against Marbridge until these hearings,” he said. “Frankly these complaints have been very insulting to the owners of Marbridge and the residents. We believe it’s the correct thing for the neighborhood.”
A decision on the project is expected to be made at the Planning and Zoning Commission’s meeting Jan. 14.
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