John Kimball plans to preserve the historic castle at Marian Heights at 1428 Monroe Turnpike and use it as an office and a new home for his family. An attached garage would be added onto the castle and two new houses built upon the 16.7 acres he wants to buy from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
The proposed fourth-lot subdivision includes an existing cottage where priests live and will remain. The purchase of the chunk of the sisters' 141-acre property is contingent on town land use approvals of Stone Castle Investments, LLC's applications.
The plan was well received by the Inland Wetlands Commission on Wednesday night, when it unanimously approved a regulated activity/subdivision referral with conditions.
"I have to congratulate you on your low impact development," Commissioner Lois Spence said at the end of the public hearing.
Prior to the vote, Chairman Jeremy Hayden said the applicant provided substantial evidence that the development would not adversely impact the wetlands and that the proposal represents the most reasonable alternative.
Among the conditions, any modifications or elimination of the town's property easement requires town approval.
If water is encountered during the excavation of lot 3, the developer will propose a drainage plan.
Spence asked that information be provided on the drainage and impacts on runoff for the two new houses that are proposed.
Kevin Solli, president of Solli Engineering, said a Trumbull-Monroe Health District report indicates the site is adequate to handle the septic capacity for the two new homes.
The lots with the castle and the cottage are serviced by Aquarion Water Co. and Solli said the new homes would also have public water.
The next step is an application before the Planning & Zoning Commission.
Details, Details ...
Driveways for the two new houses would lead to Crown View Drive. Kevin Solli, president of Solli Engineering, told the commission that a land swap with a neighboring property owner by lots 3 and 4 will allow the driveways not to cross over a watercourse.
The driveways would have 15 inch pipes for drainage beneath them.
Solli said an evergreen buffer would be planted by the land swap and along Route 111 to shield the property from traffic noise.
No additional driveways are proposed for access to a cell tower and the convent on the property that would still be owned by the nuns.
Solli said the property has three intermittent watercourses and that water from runoff drains downhill toward Crown View Drive. A trench drain, a series of catch basins and a point discharge to a concrete swale to a drainage ditch shallows it out along the way, according to Solli.
He said a low spot fills with water and bleeds out to watercourses routed along an existing stonewall.
The applicants are proposing driveway culverts, two grass-lined swales and two rain gardens to provide detention — one with 128 wetland plants and the other with 218.
"We want to construct by hand new stonewalls to ensure no encroachment on the wetlands in the future," Solli said, adding the walls would be build in the traditional style of farmers.