P&Z approves additional farm apartments, continues gas station hearing
The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) held a regular meeting in the boardroom of the Newtown Town Center on September 2 to discuss three requests.
The first public hearing on the agenda was for Peter Paulos, PH Architects’ request 21.20 for 42 Taunton Hill Road. The Applicant requested an amendment to the text of the City of Newtown Zoning By-law to allow two apartments for 11 to 15 horse boxes, three apartments for 16 to 25 horse boxes and four apartments for 25 or more horse boxes. .
Paulos explained that his family has a private barn in town with two current apartments.
“What we found is that it is difficult to take care of a farm with as many stalls and horses as we are. As I have designed other barns over the past five years… I see that some of the other municipal regulations are different, ”he explained.
He hopes to update Newtown’s regulations to make it more like other horse-friendly towns, such as Greenwich and North Salem, which have the option of increasing living quarters on site for their help.
P&Z President Don Mitchell noted that it seemed the amendment was needed because horses specifically need a lot of care from drivers.
The proposed amendment would currently only affect one other farm in the town in addition to the Paulos property. Under the proposed settlement, Paulos could add an additional apartment.
After some discussions, particularly on how it was not believed that the septic system would be impacted and that the operation would not negatively affect the neighborhood, the commission unanimously approved the request. It will come into effect on September 25.
The last two items on the P&Z agenda coincided and were both submitted by Sundaram, LLC. They were treated as one public hearing.
The first point to be discussed was the request 21.21 for two text modifications to the zoning by-law of the city of Newtown, in order to add a subsection “(e) combination of gas station and convenience stores authorized by §4.03.317 with service at the wheel ”and add a paragraph“ (g) except as permitted in Exit 10 Commercial Design District. “
The second was Request 21.22 for a special exception, for a property located at 62-64 Church Hill Road, to allow a drive-thru window as demonstrated on a set of plans titled “Sundaram LLC Newtown Mobile Station 62-64 Church Hill Road Newtown, CT 06470.
Lawyer Bob Hall represented both claims.
“Right now the regulations have definitions and the reason definitions are important is that one of them is ‘gas station or gas station’, which we are, and then there is the definition of a “restaurant.” which we are not, ”Hall said.
These proposed text changes would allow for a drive-through pickup window, which is currently only approved at Exit 10 and not throughout Newtown.
Hall explained that to add a drive-thru, the building’s overhang and pillars would be removed and the retaining wall would be pushed back for the driveway and bypass.
“There are no changes to the aisle entrances,” Hall said. He also mentioned that the drive-thru updates would not change the nearby intersection.
Mark Dymerski, co-owner of Dunkin Donuts on 6 Queen Street, who also has experience with Dunkin Donuts with drive-thru, explained how using a mobile app to pre-order can reduce ordering time for positively help to smooth traffic for the drive-in.
“It definitely speeds up the whole situation,” Dymerski said.
Builder Gary Doski was then invited to speak on behalf of the engineer. He said there was “a lot of work” to be done.
Concerns were raised that semi-trailers could get stuck in the rear when trying to turn, but it was noted that semi-trailers are prohibited from being in the rear.
Barbara Manville, a member of P&Z, asked, “How long would it take to build and will the business be closed?”
The business is expected to be closed for approximately 30 days while all construction proceeds, including replacement of underground tanks.
Concerns of Commissioners
Several P&Z members have expressed concerns about the occupancy of the site by drive-thru, in addition to traffic from gas pumps, convenience store and car wash.
Jay Patel, owner of the Mobile Station, said there are different peak times for various parts of the business.
Kermit Hua, traffic engineer at KWH Enterprises LLC in Meriden, was another app representative who touched on the subject of traffic.
He explained that his traffic survey found an estimated 17% increase in new trips to the proposed drive-thru and that he used Starbucks traffic information on Church Hill Road from 2016 as a benchmark. . His assessment was also based on his research in the area from July to August of this year.
Hua also pointed out that the quality of the location of the gas station in town was an excellent location for this drive-thru proposition.
Mitchell then asked if the drive-thru would also exclusively sell Dunkin Donuts or convenience store items. Hall responded that only Dunkin Donuts products would be sold through drive-thru.
“Seems to me that Dunkin Donuts are another use on this lot… and I guess it may depend on how you view them,” Mitchell said. He noted that gas stations have a batch usage rule.
The Planning Agency’s deputy director of planning, Rob Sibley, has raised concerns about existing landscaping, light poles and signs that do not appear to meet zoning standards. Hall said he would look into the matter.
The P&Z agreed that the public hearing for requests 21.21 and 21.22 should continue until the next regular meeting.
It was approved unanimously and the meeting will be held on September 16, at 7 p.m., in the boardroom of the Newtown Civic Center.
For more information on the Planning and Zoning Commission, visit newtown-ct.gov/planning-zoning-commission.
Journalist Alissa Silber can be reached at [email protected]