Hamden rejects reutilization of president’s estate

Approval would have allowed the university to put on events more easily

By on October 15, 2019

The Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission rejected a special permit submitted by Quinnipiac University that would have allowed the school to utilize the president’s mansion for university use.

The commission voted 3-2 with one abstention on Tuesday, Oct. 15 to reject the application after several Hamden residents who live near the property expressed concerns.

The university says that the new usage would have allowed them to hold educational and philanthropic events on the property, as well as make minor renovations.

Stephen MacLeod
Residents claimed that the current renovations being done to the mansion have already caused strain. Two residents testified to the commission that lights extended past the property and into their rooms.

Others expressed worries that events would increase traffic on Hogan Road and Ives Street. The residents also testified that there has already been an increase of accidents on this street.

Residents and some of the members of the commission also expressed a lack of trust toward university representatives. One member of the commission says that Vice President of Facilities Sal Filardi and two lawyers representing the university were giving off a “bad vibe.”

These skeptics said that they would like to see what the university plans to do with the Spruce Bank Road property before any changes are put in place.

“We need to see the five year plan,” Michael Tardy, a Hamden resident, said. “They have been nothing but smoke and mirrors since (the construction of) York Hill.”

Filardi says that the Tuesday night’s vote was the result of people misunderstanding the point of the filing.

“I think a lot of stuff came out that wasn’t about this issue,” Filardi said. “We went through the same process when we bought the Integrated Marketing building on Whitney Avenue. We still use that as an office space. We are still going to use (Spruce Bank) as a residential space.”

Filardi says that the university applied for the special permit after the Hamden Planning and Zoning Department suggested they do so. This would allow the university to hold one-day events on the property without needing to gain approval. The university used the property with approval from the Planning and Zoning department for the inauguration of President Judy Olian last spring.

There have been two more events scheduled for this fall.

The filing also gives insight on to what the university plans to do with the various structures on campus. It cites four main structures on the property: the main house, the guest house, the barn and the pavilion.

The filing says that the main house will be used as the university president’s home and is currently undergoing renovations. The guest house, where Olian currently presides, will be used to house university guests. The barn will be used as storage.

The pavilion will be utilized as the main event space. Examples provided include meetings, lectures and dinners. The master planning process is looking at ways to improve the facility to allow for a more active use. Improvements would include a sidewalk and internal roadway that would connect it to the rest of the university.

Regardless of whether the application was approved or not, the university is required to apply for special permits to build any major structure.

Filardi says that the university will now wait until the new master’s facility plan is released in May before they apply again.

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