Green Light Means Go

Samantha Mathewson

After facing difficulties moving forward, UNH has been given the green light to go ahead with their new dormitory project.

The Planning and Zoning Commission gave final approvals last week for the newly- estimated $30 million dollar project. Ground-breaking is expected to start this spring and building construction will begin in September. The dorm will be built near the Dunham and Winchester Halls, on the corner of Ruden and Isador Streets.

Previously approved polices for the University of New Haven’s educational facilities zone were up for reconsideration by the West Haven Planning and Zoning Commission after a January meeting. Residents expressed their concerns regarding the zone since the project would be creating a new title, “the educational facilities district zone,” and because this zone had zero-foot setback policy and lack of a special permit or public hearing requirement. UNH then decided to hold meetings for neighbors in response, showing them designs and taking questions in January.

In addition to holding two informational meetings with residents of the area, UNH had to fill out an additional application for the project to be approved.

Attorney Joseph Williams, who represents the school, agreed that there was further discussion that needed to be held. Some commissioners agreed the zero-foot setback guideline could be problematic and said they may take it up in the future. The current dorm proposal has an actual setback.

The setback, if applied to another area of the city, could be changed by the commission at that time, said Chairman Gene Sullivan.

The commissioners approved “The erosion and sediment control plan”, and a “site plan for the building and resource removal filling and grading plan,” at a February meeting.

UNH has always had good relationships with their neighbors, and Vice Chairman Steve Mullins said, “I’m very impressed with that and hope they continue to be good neighbors.”

Another concern about the amount of traffic was settled. “I feel the traffic generated by the new dorm won’t be detrimental to existing traffic flows,” said Commissioner David Riccio.

The project is a 108-unit residence hall, which will alleviate students facing the difficulty of finding off-campus housing. The facility will also have classroom space and a dining facility. Creating more space on campus will allow students to better participate in on-campus activities and give them the chance to interact with other students. Having more dorm space will also allow for more students.

Rico was quoted in the New Have Register, “for some time now, I have recognized the unique and special relationship here that few other towns and schools share. We both look to improve the quality of life (and) regain the strength of the city’s fiscal status.”