Sewer problems scuttle plans for 22-unit building on Darien’s Sedgwick Avenue

DARIEN — Plans for a three-story 22-unit apartment building in a downtown Darien district have been temporarily scrapped, people associated with the project said.

The project application to redevelop 7 Sedgwick Ave., first filed with the Planning and Zoning Commission in February, was withdrawn in late June, according to land records.

Attorney Robert Maslan, who is representing developer Harold Platz, said the withdrawal was due to an issue with the sewer system. The town asked the developer to conduct studies into whether the municipal sewer on the site was in good condition, Maslan said.

The withdrawal follows a contentious approval process for the project. In a late May meeting, the Architectural Review Board issued an “unfavorable report” on plans for the building, criticizing its scale, building materials and general design as not in keeping with the character of the town.

“What’s being proposed is not going to work ... it’s a complete redo,” board chair Liz Geiger told the architect hired for the project.

That criticism led to a tense back-and-forth between board members and Platz, the developer, who said he would come back with an 8-30g application if not allowed to build the residential complex as proposed.

Under the 8-30g law, each Connecticut municipality must have not less than 10 percent of its housing units designated by deed as “affordable.” Those proposals face fewer zoning restrictions than developments with no affordable units.

“If you don’t want to work with me, I can do an 8-30g ... I’m really not trying to do that road, but I’ll go that route of 40 units,” Platz said. “We need the low-income, folks. You need a minority in this town, and you don’t have it.”

There are currently no plans for an 8-30G application in the works, Maslan said.

The building’s plans were an improvement for the current site, built in 1973 and occupied by a Bank of America branch until a few years ago, Maslan said, because the site is in a floodplain and prone to severe flooding. The entire plot encompasses slightly less than a half-acre and the proposed building will be 12,889 square feet.

Platz’s proposal included 22 single- and two-bedroom apartments over two stories. Four of those apartments would be marked as affordable. A third-story parking garage was planned, along with a rooftop garden.

Maslan said he did not know when the issue with the sewer system would be resolved or when the project could come before town officials again.

“The plan so far is still the same,” Maslan said, adding that when the developer receives the results of studies into the sewer, “we'll be in a position to make decisions.”