An informal meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 to talk about a proposal to convert a former nursing home in east Derby into a dormitory for foreign-born high school students.
The meeting is at 101 Marshall Lane Manor.
Apex International Education Partners LLC, based in Watertown, has an application pending in front of the Derby Planning and Zoning Commission asking for a special exception approval that would allow the conversion to happen.
A formal public hearing in front of the Derby P&Z on the application is scheduled for Nov. 21 in Derby City Hall.
The Nov. 2 neighborhood meeting, according to a letter from Thomas, is designed to give people “the opportunity to review the site plans and floor plans and ask questions in a more informal and open session.”
The application has sparked concerns among residents in the mostly single-family neighborhood.
They’ve raised questions about the wisdom of allowing 100 or so high school students to live in a neighborhood without parents present.
They’ve also questioned the impact the use could have on property values.
Others have said the owner should simply knock down the building and redevelop the land as single-family houses to bring it in line with the rest of the neighborhood.
They’ve questioned why the students will be living in Derby, when the applicant has said they’ll attend private schools outside of Derby.
They’ve questioned whether the students will end up attending Derby Public Schools.
On Facebook people have openly questioned whether the facility will welcome “illegals.”
Post continues after the embedded document. It’s an anonymous flyer that was distributed in east Derby prior to a Derby P&Z meeting:
The City of Derby posted application info on its website, which can be accessed here.
The property at 101 Marshall Lane was a nursing home run by the Simonetti family of Shelton from 1973 until its closing in 2015.
Owner Anthony Simonetti is the chairman of the Shelton Town Republican Committee.
Simonetti still owns the property, but has a deal on the table to sell it to AIEP.
AIEP helps “U.S. secondary educational institutions with the recruiting and hosting of international students from Asia,” according to the company’s website.
Prior to submitting an application to the Derby Planning and Zoning Commission, David Guerrera, the company’s co-founder, appeared at a meeting in April to introduce town officials to the concept.
The Valley Indy live-streamed that meeting.
Guerrera’s talk begins about six minutes or so into the video embedded below:
In October, the Derby Planning and Zoning Commission voted to add language to its zoning rules, including “educational dormitory residence” (with restrictions) and “residential administration staff” as a “special exception use.”
That move, which was met with concern from the public, enabled an application to move forward.
The new zoning language is embedded below:
The zoning tweak triggered a lawsuit by nearby residents Michael Burke and Marlene Dziekan. Marlene is Rich Dziekan’s cousin.
Rich Dziekan is running for Derby mayor on the Republican line, and has a signed onto the lawsuit as a “surety,” meaning he’ll put up money for the lawsuit if need be.
The lawsuit was filed Oct. 27 and is pending in civil court.
According to the “statement of use” filed in Derby City Hall, the dormitory would be designed to house up to 108 students and eight staffers.
The students would be allowed into the country under the F-1 Visa Program (student visas).
The company has described the students as highly motivated and disciplined, who want to study in the U.S. to improve their chances of getting into competitive universities. The students will attend high schools such as Fairfeld Prep, Notre Dame of West Haven, Sacred Heart Academy, and Holy Cross High School.
The statement of use is embedded below: