Middletown's Plan of Development
CITY OF MIDDLETOWN
NEWFIELD STREET (RT. 3) CORRIDOR STUDY
l. Introduction and purpose of Study 2
ll. Study Area defined 4
lll. Existing Lane Use 6
lV. Land Use Policy in Existing Plans of Development 8
A) State Plan of Conservation and Development
B) Midstate Regional Plan
C) Middletown Plan of Development
D) Cromwell Plan of Development
V. Existing Zoning 8
VI. Natural Features
E) Flood Plain
Vll. Limitations Composite Map 17
Vlll. Road Characteristics 20
C) DOT Intersections
D) Average Daily Traffic
E) Vehicular Speeds
F) Accident Summary
G) SLOSSS Locations
H) Pedestrian Issues
I) Bicycle Issues
X, Historic and Architectural Resources 30
Xl. Proposed Land Use Plan 32
Xll. Findings and Recommendations 33
Newfield Street / CT. Rt. 3 was once considered one of the most beautiful rural routes in Middletown. Comprised primarily of large farms and stately homes.
Over the years, Newfield Street, a major thoroughfare between Middletown and Cromwell, has evolved into a complicated and inappropriate mix of land uses, with heavy traffic volumes, multiple curb cuts and a multitude of often confusing and distracting signs, canners, lights and pennants.
This evolution is not unlike that of other corridors across the country. Figure 1 is a graphic depiction of the succession of a thoroughfare from a rural route to a major commercial corridor.
It is often easy to place the blame on market forces and uncontrolled growth; however, in Middletown’s case the condition of Newfield Street exists today due to a lack of planning and inappropriate regulation. The corridor has been zoned since 1955 and the vast majority of the growth was completely consistent with zoning. The market was merely responding to what was allowed in the corridor.
On October 8, 1997 the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a six (6) month moratorium on all special exceptions and zone changes within the Newfield Street / CT. Rt. 3 corridor.
The purpose of the moratorium was to put a “hold” on development applications so as to allow the Planning and Zoning Commission sufficient time to study the corridor and develop a series of recommendations which, when implemented, will result in a gradual improvement in the corridor.
The study area is defined as the properties fronting on Newfield Street for its entire length from Washington Street (CT. Rt, 66) northerly to the Cromwell town line at the Mattabasset River. Figure 2 displays the extent of the study area.
EXISTING LAND USE
The study area is truly a mix of land uses ranging from single-family homes to new car dealers.
A general description of the land uses within the corridor is as follows:
Washington Street to Congdon Street:
The area from Washington Street to Congdon Street is primarily residential. This residential includes 43 single-family homes and 617 units in multi family dwellings in the immediate area, with a high concentration of elderly housing.
Based on 1990 Census figures this translates into a population of approximately 1500 residents.
The only non-residential land use is the Dairy Mart at the corner of Newfield Street and Westfield Street and the Godfrey Library.
Congdon Street to Mile Lane:
From Congdon Street to Mile Lane the land uses generally include single family homes, general retail, restaurants, a golf driving range, a closed bulky waste landfill, beauty salons, tanning salons, real estate agencies, two large new car dealers, a used car dealer, professional offices, a contractors yard, two condominium complexes (41 units), an automotive repair business, a large steel manufacturer and a small elderly rest home.
Mile Lane to city line at the Mattabasset River:
From Mile Lane to the city line at the Mattabasset River, the land uses generally include scattered single family homes, professional offices, oil business, a storage yard, three new car dealers, two used car dealers, automotive repair, a propane gas facility, 10 unit apartment building, a convenience store, a social club, a dry cleaner, a self storage facility, U-Haul rentals, a large auto parts warehouse with a retail outlet, two manufacturers and a landscape contractor.
Figure 3 displays the properties in the corridor owned by the City of Middletown. The only property which generates significant volumes of traffic is the school property at the Wildermans Way intersection. This property contains Woodrow Wilson Middle School (7th & 8th grades) and Keigwan (6th Grade).
The property north of Mile Lane on the west side contains Lawrence Elementary School and a planned municipal golf course. However this traffic exits onto Mile Lane.
Land Use Policy in Existing Plans of Development
State Plan Of Conservation and Development
The State Plan of Conservation and Development is largely ineffective when dealing at this level of detail. The State Plan identifies land in this corridor as urban conservation, urban growth and preservation areas.
Midstate Regional Plan
The Midstate Regional Plan was last updated in 1975. The Midstate Regional Plan identifies:
Cromwell Plan of Development
The Future Land Use Map was last updated in 199 . The future land use plan for the area immediately to the north of the study area in Cromwell is designated Business – Retail.
Middletown Plan of Development
The Future Land Use Map was last updated in 1976. The future land use plan for Newfield Street designates industrial, mixed use, open space and low, medium and high density residential.
The area immediately north of the study area in Cromwell is zoned Business. This zoning allows general commercial and retail uses. The permitted uses are found in Appendix l.
The zoning in Middletown as displayed on Figure 4 includes residential (RPZ & R-15), multi-family (M), mixed use (MX), industrial (l-2) and general commercial (B-2). The permitted and special exception uses are found in Appendix l.
A.) Topography / Slopes
Figure 5 displays the topography within the study area. The land is generally low-lying and for the most part flat. Steep slopes are not considered a significant development constraint in the study area.
The study is divided into two drainage basins. These are the Swamp Brook and the Coginchaug River drainage basins. Storm water from both of these basins eventually drains into the Mattabasset River which in turn drains to the Connecticut River at Wilcox Island. Because of the drainage patterns in the study area it can certainly be inferred that the protection of water quality in the study area contributes to the protection of water quality in the Mattabasset River, the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound; three natural resources of regional significance.
The soils within the study area were inventoried by the Soil Survey, prepared by USDA Soil Conservation Service. The soils with poor potential for community development are displayed in Figure 6. The soils within the study area as follows:
Berlin Silt Loam 0-5 percent slopes
This soil has fair potential for community development. The main limitations are the very slow permeability of the substratum and the seasonal high water table. If outlets are available, artificial drains can be used to help prevent wet basements. Quickly establishing plant cover, providing temporary diversions and establishing situation basins are suitable management practices during construction.
Branford Silt Loam 3-8 percent
This soil is well suited to trees, but only a small acreage is wooded.
This soil has good potential for community development. Steep slopes of excavations are unstable. In places, onsite septic systems are a pollution hazard to ground water.
Hartford Candy loam 3-8 percent
This soil has good potential for community development. Droughtiness is the major limitation. Onsite sewage systems need careful design and installation and steep side slopes of excavations are unstable. Lawn grasses, shallow-rooted trees and shrubs need watering in the summer. Quickly establishing plant cover, providing temporary diversions and establishing siltation basins are suitable management practices during construction.
The soil has good potential for community development. Steep slopes of excavations are unstable. In places, onsite septic systems are a pollution hazard to ground water.
P5 – Riodunk fine sand loam
This soil has poor potential for community development. The soil is limited mainly be wetness and the hazard of flooding. Steep slopes of excavations are unstable. Sediment deposited by flooding damages lawns, shrubs and other types of landscaping. Quickly establishing plant cover and using siltation basins are suitable management practices during construction.
R6 – Roypal silt loam
This soil has poor potential for community development. Wetness is the major limitation. Onsite septic systems need very careful design and installation and require filling. Steep slopes of excavations are unstable. If suitable outlets are available, artificial drains can be used to help prevent wet basements. Lawns are soft and soggy from autumn until late spring. Quickly establishing plant cover providing temporary diversions and establishing siltation basins are suitable management practices during construction.
SgA – Sudbury sandy loam 0 – 5 percent slope
This soil has fair potential for community development. The seasonal high water table is the major limitation. Steep slopes of excavations are unstable. Onsite septic systems need very careful design and installation and sites generally require filling. In places, such systems cause pollution of ground water. If suitable outlets are available, artificial drains can be used to help prevent wet basements. During construction, quickly establishing plant cover providing temporary diversions and establishing siltation basins are suitable management practices.
WkB – Wethersfield loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes
This soil has fair potential for community development. The soil is limited mainly by slow or very slow permeability of the substratum. Onsite systems need careful design and installation. Steep slopes of excavations slump when saturated. Quickly establishing plant cover, providing temporary diversions and establishing siltation basins are suitable management practices during construction.
Wkc – Wethersfield loam, 8 to 15 percent slopes
This soil has fair potential for community development. The soil is limited mainly by the steep slopes and the slowly permeable or very slowly permeable substratum. Onsite septic systems need careful design and installation. Steep slopes of excavations slump when saturated. Erosion is a major concern in unprotected areas of this soil. Quickly establishing plant cover, providing temporary diversions, and establishing siltation basins are suitable management practices during construction.
WkD – Wethersfield loam, 15 to 35 percent slopes
This soil has poor potential for community development. The soil is limited mainly by the steep slopes and the slowly permeable or very slowly permeable substratum. Onsite septic systems need careful design and installation to prevent effluent from seeping to the surface of down slope areas. Controlling erosion is a major concern during construction and quickly establishing plant cover, providing diversions and establishing siltation basins are suitable management practices. Capability subclass:
Figure 7 displays the wetlands and watercourses within the study area. Development within these areas and a fifty (50) foot buffer around these areas are carefully regulated by the Inland Wetland and Watercourses Agency. The presence of wetlands and watercourses represents a severe development constraint.
E.) Flood Plain
The areas displayed in Figure 8 are those areas which are located within the 100 year flood plain. Much of these areas flood yearly. This flooding is due to backwater from the Connecticut River during the annual spring freshet. Areas displayed as flood plain are carefully regulated by the Planning and Zoning Commission. Any development within the flood plain requires the granting of a special exception from the Planning and Zoning Commission. During the hearing process the applicant is required to show that the building will be above the flood elevation and that proper compensation for the lost storage capacity has been provided on site so as to not increase flooding on adjacent properties. Considering the difficult permitting process, the required flood insurance and the relative undesirability of property located in the 100 year flood plain, the existence of flood plain on a property represents a severe development constraint.
Limitations Composite Maps and Future Development
In order to determine the amount of future development the corridor will experience, a limitations composite map was developed. Figure 9 is the limitations composite map for the Newfield Street corridor. This map displays existing development, wetlands, flood plain areas, city property, and soils with poor potential for community development and steep slopes. The result of this overlay analysis is the identification of undeveloped areas without any significant development constraints.
Based on this analysis, the conclusion can be drawn that much of the land is fully developed or contains severe constraints on future development.
Those areas available for future development of significant size north of Mile Lane without any severe development constraints are as follows:
· Approximately eight (8) acres of property north of Tuttle Road and West of Newfield Street;
· Approximately 11.5 acres of property on east side of Newfield Street north of Mile Lane;
· Reuse of two (2) acre Knights of Columbus property;
· Approximately fifteen (15) acres of property on northeast corner of Newfield and Mile Lane.
Those areas available for future development of significant size between Mile Lane and Congdon Street without any severe development constraints are as follows:
· Approximately four and a half (4.5) acres of property just south of Mile Lane on east side;
· Approximately nine (9) acres just south of Mile Lane on west side;
· Reuse of vacant Portland Chemical property on six (6) acres of land on east side;
· Approximately forty (40) acres rear property in the vicinity of closed bulky waste landfill on east side;
· Approximately thirty (30) acres of property in the vicinity of Golf Driving Range on east side.
A.) Road Width
As stated previously, Newfield Street is a state highway which carries large volumes of traffic between Cromwell and Middletown’s Central Business District. The majority of its width varies between 25-30 feet. Currently in the City of Middletown, a new residential road is required to be a minimum of 30 ft. in width.
The following city streets intersect Newfield Street along this corridor:
These intersections are displayed on Figure 10
The Engineering Division of the Public Works Department was asked to evaluate these intersections. Their comments on these intersections (from Southern most intersection to the Northern most intersection) are as follows:
Traffic appears to flow well at this intersection. Although left turns onto Newfield Street are difficult at times, there are other routes available to accomplish this task.
The width of Newfield Street in this area provides for traffic to pass around a vehicle turning onto Meech Road. Access to Newfield Street to the north from the Meech road area can be accomplished at Westfield Street.
This is a signalized intersection. The traffic flow is good through this intersection, except for the parking access to the corner store. The curb cut on Westfield Street is too long and too close to the intersection. Half way between Westfield Street and Rose Circle is a pedestrian cross-walk at Newfield Towers. Although we are not aware of any, the residents of Newfield Towers should be asked if there are any problems with the existing crosswalk situation.
This intersection is not signalized, but is located between two intersections that are signalized. The signalized intersections cause enough of a break in the traffic flow such that, as far as we know, this intersection appears to experience little or no delays.
This is a signalized intersection with a cross walk. The distance from the Westfield Street signal (1,500 ft. +) appears to be too great to warrant the interconnection of the two signals.
With the new subdivisions and the school using this intersection for access, the level of service is probably lower than residents would like it to be. Exiting Congdon Street at rush hour is difficult. Widening Newfield Street to allow for a northbound by-pass lane would help traffic flow in this area.
Bus traffic and rush hour traffic make this a busy intersection. Widening Newfield Street to allow for a northbound by-pass lane would also help traffic flow in this area.
This intersection is signalized but is tight with small radii at the corners. Northbound traffic can be held up if a vehicle is turning left onto Mile Lane. Widening Newfield Street to allow for a northbound by-pass lane would help traffic flow in this area.
This intersection is currently being revised by the D.O.T. to include a by-pass lane and a traffic signal. The addition of these improvements should alleviate most of the problems that exist there at the present.
C.) DOT Intersection Review
In 1990 the City requested a review by the State of Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT. DOT) of intersections within the Newfield Street corridor to determine if traffic control signals were warranted. CT. DOT reviewed Mile Lane, Wildermans Way, Congdon Street and Tuttle Road. CT. DOT uses warrants contained in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) when determining if installation of a traffic control signal is called for. It should be noted that CT. DOT does not install traffic control signals to slow the speeds of motorists. The purpose of a signal is to allow vehicles to exit from a side road safely when volumes on the main line are high.
The study of the intersections included a review of the vehicular volumes, pedestrian volumes, the accident experience, roadway geometry, existing roadway traffic controls, vehicular speeds and sight lines.
Based on this review, it was determined that all four intersections warrant signalization. After consultation with the Middletown Police Department, it was determined that it would not be advantageous to install traffic control signals at all four intersections because of the undue delay they would cause.
The conclusion of the study was that traffic control signals should be installed at Tuttle Road and Wildermans Way.
Subsequent to this study a traffic control signal was installed at the intersection of Mile Lane and Newfield Street. Unfortunately, no bypass lanes were installed as a part of this project.
Funding has also been secured for a traffic control signal at Tuttle Road and Newfield Street. This project includes an exclusive left turn lane and an exclusive right turn lane from Newfield onto Tuttle Road.
D.) Average Daily Traffic (ADT)
Existing 1996 Average Daily Traffic (ADT) volumes, as displayed in Figure 11, were collected from CT. DOT. The data indicates that volumes range from a low of 12,900 vehicles per day at Liberty Street to a high of 16,500 vehicles per day at Westfield Street. As a means of comparison South Main Street (Rt. 17) had ADT ranging from 11,900 to 12,500. The ADT drops to 15,200 vehicles per day at the Cromwell line. The 1,300 vehicles lost between Westfield Street and the Cromwell line is most likely due to vehicles using Mile Lane to Ridgewood to Rt. 217 and then to Rt. 372 to bypass the Stop and Shop/Kmart commercial area in Cromwell.
Another issue that was revealed during the public workshops was the large volumes of traffic that use Newfield Street to bypass Route 9 when there are accidents at the traffic lights on Rt. 9 in downtown Middletown.
E.) Vehicular Speeds
CT. DOT indicates that Newfield Street (Rt. 3 has a 40 mph speed limit the with 85th percentile speeds being 46.2 mph northbound and 44.6 mph southbound. The 85th percentile speeds are the speed that 85 percent of the motorists are traveling at or below. These speeds represent a measure of the upper limit of reasonable speeds. CT. DOT indicates that it is not unusual for motorists to travel five mph over the posted speed limit. CT. DOT also performed a speed limit review in 1990 to determine the need for a reduction in the speed limit on Newfield Street. Based on this review CT. DOT concluded that there was no need to change the existing 40 mph speed limit.
Based on public comment speed is an issue within the corridor and merits another speed limit review.
F.) Accident Summary
Accident data along the Newfield Street (Rt. 3) corridor were obtained from CT. DOT for the most recent available three-year period (1992-1994). During this three-year period, 77 accidents occurred along the Newfield Street Corridor. Figure 12 displays the accident data collected from CT. DOT. In order to supplement this information, the Middletown Police Department provided accident date for the year 1995-1997.
The Police Department information is summarized as follows:
The Police Department Traffic Division indicates that rear end type accidents are the most common type of accident on Newfield Street. The Police Department Traffic Division felt that installing bypass and exclusive turning lanes and reducing and/or consolidating curb cuts would help in reducing these accidents.
F.) SLOSSS Locations
CT. DOT compiles a list entitled Suggested List of Surveillance Study Sites (SLOSSS). SLOSSS identifies roadway segments and intersections having 15 or more accidents during a three year analysis period and an actual to critical rate ration greater than 1.0
The purpose of SLOSSS is to define roadway locations which offer the greatest opportunity for implementation of effective measures to reduce accident levels. Currently there are no locations in the Newfield Street corridor which area listed on the SLOSSS.
G.) Pedestrian Circulation
The pedestrian circulation system is comprised of sporadically placed bituminous sidewalks, concrete sidewalks, crosswalks and traffic lights with walk cycles.
Sidewalks exist on the west side of Newfield Street from Wildermans Way to Washington Street and on the east side from Stoneycrest Drive to Westfield Street. There are crosswalks at the Washington Street and Westfield Street intersections and a midblock crosswalk between Rose Circle and Stoneycrest Drive and a crosswalk at Stoneycrest Drive.
Overall, the entire corridor is not pedestrian friendly despite the fact that there are over 650 residential units between Washington Street and Congdon Street, with a high concentration of senior citizens.
Uses which may attract pedestrian traffic are: 1) the Dairy Mart on the corner of Westfield and Newfield, 2) the golf driving range restaurants, package store and miscellaneous retail establishments just north of Congdon Street on the east side, 3) the schools on Wildermans Way, 4) Ghezzi’s Market and Best Cleaners north of Mile Lane (although distant from residential concentrations.
H.) Bicycle Issues
The midState Regional Planning Agency delineates preferred bicycle routes throughout the MidState Region.
The map indicates that Newfield Street is an existing bikeway. Representatives from bicycling organizations indicate that Newfield Street is not a preferred or safe route but it is the only route between Rt. 99 in Cromwell and Rt. 17 a popular cross state bicycle route to the shoreline.
The Middletown Transit District services the Newfield Street area with fitted route D. The Ridership has increased steadily from a low of 25,762 in 1991 to the present high of 52,917 in 1996. This represents 172 rides per day and is projected to increase in 1997.
J.) Curb Cuts
The frequent and concentrated curb cuts along the Newfield Street Corridor has been repeatedly identified as a major area of concern.
Curb cuts represent uncontrolled points of conflict along the roadway.
Currently there are 34 curb cuts north of Mile Lane, 45 curb cuts between Congdon and Mile Lane and 50 curb cuts between Congdon Street and Meech Road. There are no curb cuts from Meech Road to Washington Street. Figure 13 displays curb cut locations within the corridor. It is important to note that some establishments have no defined points of ingress and egress and cars are allowed to enter and exit the roadway at any point along the parcels frontage.
It is imperative that excessive curb cuts be reduced and boundaries between parking lots and the roadway be clearly defined.
HISTORIC AND ARCHITECTURAL RESOURCES
Upon review of the Greater Middletown Preservation Trust Architectural and Historic Survey, it was determined that there are eleven historic or architecturally significant structures within the Newfield Street corridor. In many cases the area around 18th century homes are considered by the State Historic Presentation Office to be potentially archeologically sensitive.
Figure 14 displays the location of these historic homes and the table names them and lists their date of construction.
Highlighting and accentuating these valuable resources and requiring new construction to complement these structures could be an important strategy in redefining the character of the corridor.
134 Godfrey Library, Early Modern, 1 story, stuccoed.
300 Colonial, 1½ stories, overhang, gambrel roof, dormers, aluminum siding, asymmetrical fenestration.
337 Eli Bacon House, ca. 1817, Federal, 2 stories, gable end to street, (no pediment), clapboarded, Federal style cove-ceilinged entrance porch, additions in rear.
353 Nathaniel Bacon House, probably before 1758, Center-Chimney Colonial. (209,AO)
449 Bela Ward House, ca. 1813, Federal, Victorian alterations. (210,AO)
473 Capt. Theophilus Cande House, (Bacon-Snow House), possibly between 1754 and 1781, Center-Chimney Colonial. (211.AO)
Northern half of Newfield Street:
Many early 20th Century Colonial Revival houses, most of brick. Particularly notable are #’s 401, 491, 850, 876, and 900 (wood and brick detail.
717 Miller-Bunklee House, ca. 1810, Federal. (212,AO)
995 William McKinster House, (Aresco Apartments), between 1830 and 1834, Greek Revival. (213,AO)
1000 J. Vinci Oil Company, large wooden industrial buildings, frame with brownstone block foundations, sawtooth roofs. 19th Century site of Tuttle Brickworks Company.
1252 Timothy Gilbert House, probably 1815, Federal (214,AO)
1397 Early 19th Century, 2 stories, 4 bay-wide facade, ridge of roof faces to street,
aluminum siding, and Greek revival doorway.