140 Unit Senior Living Facility; Micro-Brewery Proposed

by Christopher O'Brien

A number of businesses are looking to move into Wolcott, signalling both a potentially improving local economy, as well as demand for services that are being met by local entrepeneurs. The Town’s Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a Public Hearing tonight at 6:30 on a proposed Assisted Living Facility adjacent to Wolcott View Manor on Beach Road.  A meeting will follow to consider six additional business related applications.

Some of those proposals include a fitness center in the former Wolcott Tire building, a microbrewery which will be housed near the Waterbury town line, a bakery, and a new church.

But the largest project may generate the most vigorous debate. Several Beach Rd. and Chasse Ave area residents received mailings inviting them to comment on a “three story building – the largest in town!”. It is unknown who sent the letters because they didn’t include a return address. Yet, at a public hearing in November, several neighbors spoke against the proposal, contending that the owners of Wolcott View Manor will build a monstrocity that will reduce property values and affect safety in the neighborhood.

Brian Cleary, the owner of Wolcott View Manor presented the proposal to the Commission. The design is meant to  “fulfill a need in town” where elderly seniors can maintain a sense of independence. The new facility would also provide 75 to 100 jobs and become one of the town’s largest tax generators. Such facilities ahve become more popular in many areas of the country. Typical amenities include a dining area and other social activities for residents who find they only would like a single room apartment and don’t need any extended medical servives. The only other such facility in the area is on Scott Road in Waterbury.

Protesting neighbors include Cleary’s relative, Dennis Cleary who was once part of the management team at Wolcott View, but a family dispute many years ago relieved him of his involvement. Cleary however has abutting property and a home behind the present facility on Mad River Road. In the past decade, Evas Terrace was also built alongside the nursing home, and several new homes on Mad River and Spindle Hill Road have long driveways deep into the forrested area.

Residents of Evas Terrace question why an accessway is being built from the proposed facility onto their road and safety concerns for children in the area if there is increased traffic. Cleary noted that the size of the 150,000 two and – three story facility would be clearly visible from his home and the upper floors will have bright lights that would affect his property. He also cited a lengthy list of issues with the project that he contends violate many zoning regulations and requirements.

At their November meeting, the Commission referred the project to a number of different town departments to be reviewed and tonight’s meeting will be the second public hearin on the proposal. Any registered voter or person owning at least $1,000 in property value in town may comment beginning at 6:30 tonight.

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