Members of the Derby Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to covert a former nursing home on Marshall Lane Manor into a high school dormitory for international students.
“I think we just beat this thing to death for the last three months,” said David Rogers, a member of the commission, as the discussion drew to a close.
The vote was 5-0, with commissioners determining that the redevelopment of the property will not be detrimental to the surrounding residential zone.
The vote did not sit well with neighbors who came out to speak against the proposal at public hearings in November and December.
Apex International Education Partners (AIEP) LLC, based in Watertown, will use 101 Marshall Lane — formerly Marshall Lane Manor — to house about 100 international students seeking to study at area private high schools.
Most of the students will be from China, and will be closely supervised, according to statements made by David Guerrera, the company’s co-founder.
At a public hearing on the proposal in November, neighbors said they were worried about kids living in the residential neighborhood without their parents.
However, the company said the Chinese students are high achievers. They don’t want to do anything other than study so they can get into good U.S. colleges, company officials said.
The dorm application still has to be reviewed by the city’s Water Pollution Control Authority, to make sure any water and sewage from the site can be absorbed by Derby’s sewer system.
Dominick Thomas, the lawyer representing the company, said the dorm will use less water than the nursing home did.
AIEP is in negotiations to purchase the property from Simonetti Realty Inc.
The Simonetti family of Shelton ran the nursing home from 1973 until its closing in 2015.
The Derby Planning and Zoning Commission previously approved changing its zoning rules to add dormitories as a use in the city’s “R-3” residential zone as a “special exception.”
That paved the way for the company to submit a site plan for the commission to review.
However, two neighbors have filed a lawsuit seeking to have the commission’s previous decision tossed.
A status conference on the lawsuit was scheduled for Tuesday morning, and the commissioners met in a closed-door executive session Tuesday night to discuss the lawsuit.