Three different vacant lots in Wooster Square, West River, and Upper State Street should soon sprout new two-family houses, thanks to approvals granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).
Local zoners took those votes Tuesday night during the land use board’s latest regular monthly meeting, which was held online via Zoom.
At a time when so much new New Haven housing has consisted of large luxury apartment complexes going up in and around downtown, the two-family-house approvals — as well as still another vote in support of Habitat for Humanity’s plans to build three new single-family houses in the Annex — shined a light on some of the smaller-scale residential construction taking place across the Elm City.
15 Brown St.
The first such approval of the night was for a variance to allow for the construction of a two-family structure where a single-family structure is permitted on a non-conforming lot at 15 Brown St.
That property is currently home to a surface parking lot a block south of Wooster Street. The property’s owner, an affiliate of the local megalandlord Mandy Management, plans to build a new two-family house with two three-bedroom rental apartments.
“This would be an infill project for a vacant lot that previously supported a three-family dwelling,” local attorney Ben Trachten said on behalf of the applicant. “This is a lot that traditionally had a higher density than what we proposed tonight.”
He said the lot is compliant with the city’s zoning ordinance except for the fact that it is four feet too narrow — that is, it’s 46 feet wide, rather than the 50 feet mandated by the zoning ordinance to construct such a two-family house.
Fellow Brown Street resident Silvia DeCastro spoke up during the public hearing portion of the meeting with concerns about the block’s loss of surface parking. “A two family with three bedrooms you know is going to increase tremendously the amount of parking needed,” she said. “What is the proposed parking situation?”
Trachten said that the new two-family house would have two on-site parking spots, and is therefore in line with the parking minimum set by the city’s zoning code.
67 Beech St.
The second such vote of Tuesday’s BZA meeting was in support of variances to allow for a side yard of 5 feet where 8.25 feet is required and a rear yard of 6 feet where 11 feet is required for the construction of a two-family structure at 67 Beech St.
The owner of that overgrown vacant lot off of Upper State Street is owned by Andrew Consiglio, Jr.
“This highly irregular lot backs up onto I‑91 to the east,” Trachten said, speaking on behalf of the applicant. “This is a little stub of a street called Beech Street. … This is another site that previously supported a dwelling unit. We’re seeking to a do a two-family” house on this lot.
He said that the requested yard variances would not inconvenience any neighbors, because the property “backs up to nothing but open space. We’re not seeking to encroach on any yard that abuts a resident or anything that’s inhabited by a person.”
The zoning board subsequently voted unanimously in support of the zoning relief.
6-8 Evergreen Ct.
The third prospective new two-family house to get the BZA’s sign off Tuesday is slated for 6 – 8 Evergreen Ct.
The site’s owner, National Construction LLC — a holding company controlled by Ferdinand Escoffery — applied to the BZA for variances to allow for a front yard of 10 feet where 20 feet is required, a side yard of 0 feet where 8 feet is required, a rear yard of 8 feet where 25 feet is required, a maximum building coverage of 43 percent where 30 percent is permitted, and to allow 2,200 square feet of lot area per dwelling unit where 3,500 square feet is required.
Escoffery’s company purchased this West River property from the city for $15,000 earlier this year. Trachten, again representing the builder-owner-applicant, told the commissioners that the city’s Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) for this site requires that the current owner sell this property as a two-family house to an owner-occupant.
There is currently a structure “that goes all the way to the property line” on this lot, he said. “There will be a duplicate structure that matches the existing structure constructed on the vacant lot.”
The city-mandated LDA, he repeated, “says that the property is to be developed as a two-family dwelling which is to be transferred to an owner-occupant.” Therefore, this site will have “not just rental apartments,” but also a dwelling where the owner lives on site.
The zoners voted unanimously in support of all of the requested relief.
Main Street Annex
One of the last residential zoning-relief applications of the night came from Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Haven Inc., a nonprofit that constructs new houses for low- and moderate-income homeowners.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the city zoners signed off on Habitat’s request for a variance to allow for three single-family structures to be constructed where multi-family is permitted on a vacant lot on Main Street Annex on the far east side of the city near the East Haven border.
Trachten, against representing the applicant, said that Habitat for Humanity plans to subdivide the existing parcel of land into three zoning-compliance single-family dwelling lots, and then construct three single-family homes on those properties.
Each future homeowner will earn between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), as is the case for all Habitat projects. They’ll also have to put in “400 hours of sweat equity into the homes they reside in,” Trachten said.
Trachten said the BB zone where this property resides is an “autocentric zone” that is “kind of a defunct zone which in and of itself provides no real uses besides package stores and auto-related uses.”
Now, thanks to the zoning relief requested — and subsequently approved by the BZA — the site will see three new single-family homes.