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P&Z Slates Hearings On Church Hill Road Gas Station Property Redevelopment

At an upcoming session, Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members are scheduled to discuss the commercial redevelopment of 67 Church Hill Road with the proposed construction of a new gas station/convenience store there.

The P&Z meeting is slated for 7:30 pm on Thursday, March 20, at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.

The one-acre parcel on the western corner of Church Hill Road and Edmond Road currently holds a decaying structure that formerly was a Shell gas station/convenience store.

Town officials consider the deteriorated 2,100-square-foot structure to be an eyesore and want it demolished as part of their plans to have the “gateways” into Newtown, such as the Exit 10 area of Interstate 84, become more attractive.

At the March 20 P&Z session, two public hearings that bear on the redevelopment project are scheduled.

At the first hearing, P&Z members will consider modifying the zoning regulations concerning gas station/convenience store businesses.

The proposed rule changes would provide the owners of such businesses with more latitude in operating such facilities, George Benson, town director of planning and land use, said March 12.

At a second public hearing, Consumers Petroleum of Connecticut, Inc (CPCI) of Trumbull, will seek a special permit to build a new a gas station/convenience store, including a food service area, at 67 Church Hill Road.

The applications, if approved by the P&Z, would set the stage for the applicant to build the project before the state Department of Transportation (DOT) begins work on a planned realignment of the widely-offset intersection of Church Hill Road, Edmond Road, and Commerce Road.

The state DOT is in the preliminary design stage of a traffic safety project that will create a conventional four-way signalized intersection of Church Hill Road, Commerce Road, and Edmond Road.

In the project, the southern end of Edmond Road would be shifted westward so that Edmond Road becomes part of a four-way intersection with the other roads. The roads now comprise a broadly offset intersection with the southern end of Edmond Road lying about 250 feet east of the northern end of Commerce Road.

That area has one of the highest accident rates in the ten-town Housatonic Valley Regional Planning Area, resulting in the construction project to simplify traffic flow there.

The DOT plans to hold a public information meeting in Newtown on the intersection project by mid-year. The project is expected to start construction in 2016.

In 2012, CPCI received several zoning variances involving property-line setbacks for its gas station/convenience store  project from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

But the owner of Newtown Mobil at 64 Church Hill Road, known as Sundaram, LLC, challenged those variances in Danbury Superior Court.

The appeal, which was filed in May 2012, is pending in court. Both the ZBA and CPCI are defendants in the appeal.

Mr Benson has said that CPCI’s current application to P&Z for 67 Church Hill Road would be designed so that no zoning variances are required to build it, thus circumventing the pending lawsuit.

Mr Benson has noted that the pending court case could take years to resolve.

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