River Oaks application submitted

By:Glenn Shafer , Staff Writer


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This week, the Konover Development Corporation submitted a formal application with the Simsbury Zoning Commission for the 959,000-square-foot River Oaks mixed use development along Route 10 in Simsbury, near the Avon town line.
"We're anxious to be before the land-use process, with its opportunity for full public input in a civil and deliberate forum," said T.J. Donahue, an attorney for Konover. "We're confident that after the give-and-take of the approval process, Simsbury River Oaks will enhance Simsbury 's quality of life as well as the town's net tax revenues. This is a singular opportunity for Simsbury to create a new, vibrant neighborhood as well as to enable the investment in our town which will create a new top taxpayer."
The 60.2-acre parcel is currently zoned industrial and would require a zone change to allow for mixed residential, retail and offices.
"Konover Development's team of internationally recognized experts has worked diligently to develop a program that will create a new place in Simsbury where people can live, work, visit their doctor's office, shop for a range of different merchandise, or just take a walk and enjoy the park we've designed near the Farmington River Greenway," said Donohue from a prepared statement.
According to Konover, River Oaks will provide $4.03 million to the town in property taxes, net of municipal expenses the town may occur.
The River Oaks project will include 40 percent to 50 percent in residential ranging from one-bedroom units above retail shops to large, upscale single-family homes; 30 percent to 40 percent retail anchored by a proposed Target store; and 10 percent to 20 percent offices, including a proposed medical office facility for Saint Francis Hospital.
There will also be a park that will provide direct access to and from the Rails-to-Trails. The park will include a multi-use pavilion for general public use with outdoor seating, an information center, bicycle racks, restrooms, a pond and an amphitheater for small public performances.
"We are anxious to finally present our plan," said Donohue. "It is not only our work, but reflects the input of more than 100 Simsbury residents who have met with us and have shared their ideas. We look forward to working with the land-use commissioners to make this significant opportunity a reality for the town and the people of Simsbury."
In related River Oaks news this week, Simsbury resident Chuck Ward testified before the state's Freedom of Information Commission in downtown Hartford. Ward has made two FOI requests to the town of Simsbury for communications regarding the River Oaks development proposal. Ward is claiming the town may be withholding documents in an effort to hide conflicts of interest between both elected and appointed Simsbury officials and Konover Development Corporation.
A hearing this week gave Ward a chance to air his accusations. Ward said he has received over 1,600 pages from the town although, in many instances, names were redacted. He also thinks some key documents were not provided.
Before Commissioner Dennis O'Conner, Ward had heated exchanges with Simsbury Town Attorney Robert DeCresenzo. Ward said his request is with the town of Simsbury, not Konover Development Corporation, and his goal in making the FOI requests was simply to keep the dialogue about River Oaks in the open to the residents of Simsbury.
Ward is a member of SHARE, the Simsbury Homeowners Advocating for Responsible Expansion. The citizen group is opposed to the development of the $200 million mixed use project on Route 10.
A second hearing or meeting regarding Ward's FOI requests is expected by the Freedom of Information Commission later this summer. If it is concluded that the town did not comply with the FOI requests, the staff members or officials could be penalized with a fine.


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