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Senior housing project proposed for Moss Park in Pawcatuck

STONINGTON — The plans are only conceptual, but Bill Bellock of Bellsite LLC, of Manchester, is proposing to build an affordable housing development for seniors at Moss Park, the area immediately west of Lathrop Avenue in Pawcatuck.

Before a gathering of the town’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee on Tuesday, Bellock explained that the project was very preliminary and subject to change.

He proposed a 60-unit development but admitted the figure was “arbitrary,” and would most likely change based on the final economics of the proposal.

Bellock introduced the concept to the committee and said he would also present it to other town agencies, such as the Housing Commission and Economic Development Commission. “I’m looking forward to getting feedback from all the different commissions,” he said.

Moss Park is a town-owned 14-acre parcel. Bellock said the Downes Patterson Corp. donated the land to the town in the 1970s with the restriction that it be used for open space and recreation, a standard practice at the time. Currently, Downes Patterson and Bellsite have agreed to eliminate the restriction, but that action must be approved in Superior Court; if not, the project is dead.

Bellock envisions the units as having one or two bedrooms, and the structures to be duplexes or fourplexes. All units would be on-grade with no stairs and about 25 percent would be deemed affordable.

“We have a huge need for this type of housing,” said First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. He noted the success of Stonington Arms and the Edythe K. Richmond Homes, the town’s two affordable housing projects for seniors, but conceded they cannot meet the current demand.

The developer believes the land is ideal for senior and affordable housing. Connections for utilities are readily available and the topography would allow for a natural buffer.

In addition, the wetlands on the site are located in one general area, not spotted throughout the 14 acres. The entrance to the development would be from Field Street and the area is near the bus line and several markets.

Each living space would have central heat and air conditioning as well as laundry hookups.

If approved, the project could be constructed in phases based on the housing market, but Bellock does not imagine construction starting until 2015. “I’ve been involved in similar projects and these things take a lot of time,” he said.

His last endeavor, the Phelps Mansion in Vernon, was an old residential property turned into housing for 17 veterans.

It was started with seed money in 2006, and the opening ceremony was held last week, Aug. 30. “These projects take forever,” he told the committee.

The project would be financed through the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority.

Because of the nature of the project, approval through the town’s zoning process would fall under rule 8-30g, the state’s affordable housing land use appeals procedure.

To provide an incentive, the town would most likely lease the property for a nominal sum, helping to keep its construction affordable.

Haberek said that the development would be subject to public hearings and have to receive the town’s approval, but such action is years in the future. The advisory committee unanimously endorsed the proposal on Tuesday.

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