Concerned about their neighborhood, people near Bristol’s Redstone Hill Road are opposing a potential zoning change which could open the doors to a new multi-family housing development.
“We’re all kinds of afraid this is going to happen and we’re all trying to fight it,” said Kellie Charette, who has lived in a nearby neighborhood for six years.
The development would cover 12.2 acres of land but require a zoning change to approve multi-family dwellings. In November, Bristol’s Planning Commission voted to pass the proposal onto zoning which will discuss the plan January 13. Residents who live in the area don’t want to see a zoning change.
“We chose this because of our lifestyle,” said Dan Bielert. “If we wanted to live in a multi-family or apartment environment, we would’ve moved there.”
Change, though, is something Bristol’s mayor said has already happened in that area of town.
“There was no ESPN. There were no manufacturing components. Lake Compounce wasn’t half of what it is today,” said Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. “The complexion of that quadrant of our city has changed."
Regardless of change, residents are resistant and have been very vocal in their opposition.
“I don’t want somebody bulldozing something into my neighborhood that I don’t want,” said William Forbes. “That’s not going to add to the nice character that we currently have.”
Developer Joe Naples has heard the complaints but said there’s misinformation circulating. Naples said unauthorized flyers were recently distributed to neighbors, which has led to people misunderstanding what the complex is expected to be like.
“The plan calls for a gated luxury apartment community to be built, next to the industrial zone where ESPN is located,” said Naples.
Naples said the development would be aimed at professionals and would be built in accordance with environmental regulations and not harm nearby wetlands.
People who live nearby, though, said an apartment complex would bring too many people into their neighborhood.
“When you put 100 families into any area, the density becomes a problem,” worried Bielert.
“More kids in the school. Also the traffic, I’m worried about that,” added Charette.
Naples said if the zoning isn’t changed he will develop single-family homes instead. He suggested that could be worse for the neighborhood residents.
“That’s the interesting thing and the ironic thing,” he said. “The project that we’ve designed is actually going to be less impactful than what we’re allowed to do.”
“We’ll be required to have larger buffers (between the complex and existing neigborhoods), with our project,” he said. “We will have significantly fewer children in our project, compared to a single-family subdivision.”