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Fiber Mill Proposal, Exit 10 Retail Project Slated for P&Z Hearings



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The Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) has scheduled three public hearings for Thursday, December 6. Two hearings will concern a proposal to create an animal/crop fiber mill at a property at 26 Mount Nebo Road. A third hearing will concern a proposal to intensify the planned use of the site for a retail center now under construction at 73 & 75 Church Hill Road, near Exit 10 of Interstate 84.

The P&Z meeting is scheduled to start at 7:30 pm at Newtown Municipal Center, 3 Primrose Street.

The fiber mill proposal will be subject to a public hearing on a “text amendment” to the zoning regulations, which would add wording to the zoning rules to allow a fiber mill as a permitted land use. The other hearing will cover a requested special zoning permit for such a fiber mill.

Applicants Clare Robertson and Peter Harrison, who own a 32-acre property in a R-2 (Residential) zone at 26 Mount Nebo Road, are proposing the fiber mill at the location. The property is on the west side of Mount Nebo Road, across from its intersection with Ox Hill Road.

The application for the use describes the project as the installation and operation of fiber processing equipment for a “mini-mill” within an existing dairy barn. That equipment would be electrically powered. To adapt the barn for the proposed use, five windows and a fan would be installed at the building. The facility would be operated as a business.

According to the application, the proposed mill would be used to process the property’s own fiber, the mill would buy other raw fiber for blending, and the facility would process fiber for other producers.

The mill would employ five full-time or the equivalent number of part-time employees. The mill would produce a maximum of 30 pounds of processed fiber daily, according to the application.

The applicants’ zoning rules proposal would add wording to the zoning regulations to allow such a facility to produce up to 50 pounds of processed fiber daily. Such a facility could be located at a property of at least 20 acres that cultivates fiber crops and/or raises fiber-bearing livestock.

Under the proposed zoning rules, such a mill could be used to process fiber produced there or purchased by the mill. The mill could be used to process fiber produced at other sites.

Retail Center

In other business at the December 6 P&Z session, Sunrise Church Hill Road LLC will seek P&Z approval for certain proposed changes to construction plans for an under-construction retail center at 73-75 Church Hill Road. Those changes would increase the overall size of the structures built there from 12,170 to 12,227 square feet, increase the number of parking spaces from 74 to 113 spaces, and install two drive-up automatic teller machines (ATM) beneath a dual-lane shelter.

The public hearing on the proposed design changes had initially been scheduled for November 15, but was canceled due to adverse weather.

The 39 additional parking spaces would increase the paved area at the 3.3-acre site by about 0.34 acres. The development of the property has involved major site work, including the rerouting of the nearby Tom Brook to remove an oxbow curve from its course.

The 39 additional parking spaces would be constructed in the area now occupied by the southern end of Edmond Road. That road section will be demolished as part of an ongoing state road realignment project.

The application for a modified special zoning permit for the design changes includes installing various signage for a Starbucks Coffee drive-through window at the retail center, plus associated construction work involving grading, drainage, and utilities.

In October, the Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) approved a modified wetlands/watercourses protection permit for the design changes.

According to the applicant, the retail building at the site would hold a Starbucks Coffee shop, a restaurant, store space, and some type of financial institution, either a bank or a credit union.

In 2016, the developer sought and received P&Z approval to create a new zone, known as the Exit 10 Commercial Design District (X10-CDD), which allows the project to be constructed at 73 Church Hill Road, which has underlying M-5 (Industrial) zoning, and at 75 Church Hill Road, which has underlying B-2 (General Business) zoning.

Also, through the X10-CDD zoning designation, the developer gained P&Z approval for drive-through window service at a Starbucks Coffee shop to be located at the northwest corner of the retail building. That 2016 development approval was the first time since 1958, when town zoning went into effect, that the P&Z approved drive-through window service for an eatery.

While the retail center is under construction, work also has been underway on a $2.85-million state project that will relocate the southern end of Edmond Road to the west to have it form a conventional four-way signalized intersection with Church Hill Road and Commerce Road.

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