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P&Z Approval For Veterinary Complex

Published: June 29, 2018 at 12:00 am

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Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members on June 21 approved the construction of a large veterinary complex at 94 South Main Street (Route 25) that would provide a range of pet-related services for its customers.

The project represents the redevelopment of a former plant nursery with a 17,767-square-foot, two-story structure that would be known as Pleasant Paws Pet Center. The complex would include a veterinary clinic, animal boarding facilities, an animal rehabilitation unit, and a pet-related store.
Prithvi Real Estate Management LLC, is the applicant for the project. Dr Rakesh Vali, the owner/veterinarian at Mt Pleasant Hospital For Animals in Hawleyville, is a principal in Prithvi Real Estate.

On June 21, the project received two approvals from the P&Z - a change of zone from R-1 (Residential) to South Main Village Design District/Special Design District-5 (SMVDD/SDD-5) and also a special zoning permit for a site development plan.

The project's approval has involved the review of multiple applications. In May, the project received a wetlands/watercourses protection permit from the Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) in connection with the presence of a pond at the site.

Also, in February, the P&Z approved unique zoning regulations, known as Special Design District-5, which are a set of zoning rules that apply only and specifically to the development of a veterinary complex at 94 South Main Street.

Last November, P&Z members unanimously approved subdividing a 3.13-acre site at 94 South Main Street into two lots - a 2.06-acre lot with frontage on South Main Street, and also a 1.07-acre lot lying to the west with frontage on Greenbriar Lane. The 2.06-acre veterinary property lies generally south and west of the intersection of South Main Street and Greenbriar Lane.

On June 21, the applicant's proposal for a change of zone gained unanimous approval from P&Z members, who decided that the action was consistent with the terms of the 2014 Town Plan of Conservation and Development.

At a public hearing on the special zoning permit, Kevin Solli of Solli Engineering and Mike Kozlowski of Claris Construction spoke on behalf of the applicant. They provided updated plans and architectural renderings to the P&Z based on comments that were made at a June 7 public hearing on the project. As part of those changes, the building would be taupe-colored instead of blue, the structure would have a lower roofline, the site would hold more landscaping elements than previously proposed, a stone veneer would be affixed to the base of the building, and a proposed retaining wall would be modified, among other changes.

Mr Solli said that a rear driveway, which would connect the site to Greenbriar Lane, would be designated for entering vehicles only, not for two-way traffic as had been previously proposed. That driveway would lie across Greenbriar Lane from Southbrook Lane.

P&Z member Robert Mulholland said it is positive that the applicant listened to P&Z members' concerns stated at the June 7 public hearing in modifying its plans. "It's very comforting that you listened to what we said...Nice job... It no longer looks like it belongs on a college campus," he said.

 

Rear Driveway

P&Z member Jim Swift, who served as acting chairman on June 21 in the absence of Don Mitchell, however, raised concerns about the rear driveway. Neighbors had told P&Z members not to allow a rear driveway, he said. Out of respect for the neighbors, when considering that the site was converted from a residential zone to a commercial zone, the P&Z should pay attention to the neighbors' concerns, Mr Swift said.

"I am opposed to that (rear) driveway, in general," Mr Swift said.

Several nearby residents spoke in opposition to a rear driveway at the site when the P&Z reviewed creating SDD-5 zoning earlier this year. On June 7 at the P&Z hearing on Pleasant Paws, resident Neil Chaudhary of Southbrook Lane said, "The intrusion of a commercial driveway onto a low-volume residential road is not consistent with what our voters want, and I would argue not consistent with the Plan of Development." Mr Chaudhary urged that there be no rear driveway for the project and that appropriate landscaping elements be employed to buffer the neighborhood from the project.

On June 21, Mr Swift said that approving a rear driveway for the project would set a bad precedent of allowing a commercial driveway on a residential street. Mr Swift added that across time, a rear driveway may be used by vehicles both entering and exiting the site. "We need to respect the neighbors," he said.

In deciding on the special zoning permit application, P&Z members approved it in a 4-to-1 vote with Mr Mulholland, Corinne Cox, Barbara Manville, and Benjamin Toby voting in favor, and Mr Swift opposed.

The SMVDD zoning process, coupled with SDD rules, allows applicants to propose customized zoning regulations that are tailored to an individual property's development or redevelopment. The P&Z created the SMVDD zoning regulations in 2007 to foster economic development that is in harmony with New England architecture along the four-mile-long South Main Corridor.

Pleasant Paws is one of six projects that has gained SMVDD zoning approvals.

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