West Hartford to consider taller buildings - WFSB 3 Connecticut

West Hartford to consider taller buildings

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West Hartford officials are considering an ordinance would allow property owners to add on apartments, up to five stories. (WFSB) West Hartford officials are considering an ordinance would allow property owners to add on apartments, up to five stories. (WFSB)
WEST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

With more and more people eyeing up West Hartford, its town center could go through some growing pains as town council tries to pave the way for some taller buildings.

Residents told Eyewitness News they aren't completely sold on the idea.

“Being able to walk to the library, being able to walk and get coffee or go to happy hour is just a pleasure,” Tessa O'Sullivan, of West Hartford, said.

Those are just a few of the reasons O'Sullivan and her family love West Hartford. They've lived on LaSalle Road for almost 20 years.

“I enjoy Blue Back and the stores, and the ability for people to live in a vibrant center is important,” O'Sullivan said.

But, O'Sullivan said she's worried about a change in the fine print that could reshape the center's small-town feel.

“There is no change to an existing building that is proposed,” West Hartford Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said. “It is the underlying zoning codes that we're talking about changing.”

“As long as it's not done willy, nilly and crazy and turn it into a cavernous aisle,” O'Sullivan said.

On Tuesday night, the town council held off voting on an amendment that would allow property owners to add on apartments, up to five stories. Right now, the max is capped at four stories.

“This ordinance allows buildings to go taller, but it has to be for residential purpose,” Van Winkle said. “So, it has to be for an apartment or a condominium."

Town officials said this ordinance would give businesses the option to expand. They added all proposals would have to go through a public hearing and ultimately town council.

“The council themselves would have to make findings,” Van Winkle said. “Is parking adequate? Was traffic issues dealt with appropriately?"

Officials said they realize change isn't easy, but they added it's about striking a balance between the old and new. They are making room for others to enjoy a charming town that's evolved through the years.

“This was a sleepy, little center back in the 1980s. There were no restaurants in West Hartford Center,” Van Winkle said. “Today, we're a lively, full-of-life active center. Most people find that change quite valuable."

“We just didn't want it to go nuts. We didn't want to live in a city,” O'Sullivan said. “We don't want to be on the outskirts of a city. If we did, we'd live in Hartford."

A public hearing is scheduled for April 12.

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