By Genevieve Reilly
Had he known more specifics about the neighborhood opposition to a proposed mixed-use building at 54 Sasco Hill Road, the applicant's lawyer told the Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday a lot of time could have been saved.
Raymond Rizzio made the remarks as the TPZ continued its hearing on the application, and neighbors got to have their say about the modern, elevated structure, which would have an office on the first floor and living quarters on the second. The parcel is in a commercial district, sitting next to an office building at the corner of Sasco Hill and Post roads.
Rizzio said he tried to set up a meeting with neighbors prior to Tuesday's hearing, but was unable to. "Now that we have the input of the public, we'll be able to shrink the size of the building," he said, and make its appearance more "colonial."
As a result, the commission continued the hearing to another date, but Chairman Matthew Wagner warned Rizzio about presenting a completely new application. Rizzio said if the changes prove too extensive, the applicant can withdraw the plan and file the revised one.
Neighbors, meanwhile, said they don't like either the design or size of the proposed structure.
Right now, most people think the building that now stands at 54 Sasco Hill Road, which once housed a chiropractor's office, is a home, according to Steve Sucic, who lives at 56 Sasco Hill and shares the driveway with lot in question.
Sucic said the property is also subject to flooding from the Mill River.
Sucic's neighbor, Bill Mallin, said the property, now owned by Love Where You Live Homes, LLC, should be a commercial property, but not one of the size and scale that is proposed, while architect John Franzen, said the design is completely out of character with the homes that surround the Tide Mill pond area. Franzen's office is across the water from 54 Sasco Hill.
Even a representative of the commercial building at corner of Post Road, which has an address of 10 Sasco Hill, came to oppose the application. Lawyer Diane Whitney said if the current proposal were approved, there would be a "very large building right on the property line," and the side facing her client's building "would be completely blank," with no windows.
"The architectural style of the proposed building does not at all fit in with the houses or my client's building," Whitney said.
Representatives from the Sasquanaug Association and the Southport Conservancy also voiced opposition, as did Representative Town Meeting member Gaylord Meyer, R-1.
Meyer said she had received many phone calls from residents about the application. "They are very concerned about this massive application," she said. "Southport Village is historic and we are trying to maintain it and we are slowly being encroached by developers"