ZBA Approves Hawleyville Location For Use As Gas Station
Following a February 6 public hearing, Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) members unanimously approved a site at 26 Hawleyville Road (State Route 25) as a suitable location for a proposed gas station.
The 0.7-acre property, which holds a deteriorated building that formerly housed Hawleyville Deli, abuts the Housatonic Railroad’s rail freight line. The existing structure would be demolished to make way for the proposed redevelopment.
Applicable state law requires the ZBA to review sites proposed for gas stations to determine whether they are suitable for that use in terms of public safety and other factors. The ZBA’s approval will provide the applicant with a “certificate of location” for a gas station.
The Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the night of Thursday, February 7, after the deadline for the February 8 print edition of The Newtown Bee, to review developer NEMCO Limited Partnership’s request for site development plan approval and for a special zoning permit for the project, which is known as Mitchell’s Hawleyville Station.
The proposed building would serve as a gas station, convenience store, and café. It would be constructed in the style of the former Hawleyville train station, which once stood in that area.
In voting to approve NEMCO’s requested certificate of location, ZBA members found that there are no places of public gathering nearby, the site has frontage on a state road, and the proposed construction suits the character of the area.
The project is subject to approval by the state Department of Transportation (DOT) due to its location on a state highway.
At the public hearing that preceded the ZBA’s action, members of the public raised some issues about the project.
Diane Beck of Pheasant Ridge Road asked whether there would be signage on nearby Interstate 84 indicating the presence of the proposed complex. She also asked whether such a facility would generate “lots of truck traffic” in the area.
Don Mitchell of NEMCO responded, “It’s not going to be a truck stop.”
Glenn Hopper, who owns residential property at 24 Hawleyville Road, asked whether the facility would be open 24 hours a day for business.
Matt Mitchell of NEMCO responded that he does not envision the complex being open around-the-clock, when considering its location. In response to a question, Mr Mitchell added that the gas station would be selling diesel fuel. Truckers who need to refuel with diesel could do so at the proposed complex, he said.
Mr Hopper said the site poses difficulties for motorists seeking to exit it onto Hawleyville Road. Noting the site’s nearness to the railroad tracks, he said he expects that it will become noisy when commercial trucks loudly brake to a stop before crossing those tracks.
Mr Hopper noted that the architect for the developer presented “a nice design” for the complex, but added that the presence of such a facility has a drawback. “It will damage my property’s value,” Mr Hopper said.
Ms Beck pointed out that Hawleyville has been experiencing increasingly heavy traffic, especially during the evening rush period. Heavy eastbound commuter traffic gets off I-84 at Exit 9, creating traffic congestion in the area, she said. “Traffic has gotten very, very bad over there,” Ms Beck said.
Rob Sibley, town deputy planning director, told audience members that certain concerns that they raised about the project at the February 6 ZBA session are “zoning issues,” and thus should be brought to the attention of P&Z members, in urging attendance at the February 7 P&Z session.
The site proposed for redevelopment lies within the Hawleyville Center Design District (HCDD) zone, a specialized zone unique to Hawleyville Center, which was created by the P&Z in 1999.
The HCDD zone is intended to foster the creation of a neighborhood business district that includes mixed-use activities, improvements, and the development typical of a village center. The zone is intended to promote business activities that will serve the surrounding neighborhoods, and to a lesser degree, accommodate services compatible with the zone’s proximity to Exit 9 of Interstate 84.
The P&Z created HCDD zoning to encourage development with high quality design, which blends the pedestrian scale of a village center with the functions of Route 25, I-84, and the railroad line as regional transportation linkages. Such design should respect the environmental conditions and history of the area in seeking to achieve an integrated, cohesive New England village center, according to the P&Z.
The site currently is owned by Nimer Properties, which would sell it to NEMCO if NEMCO receives all required approvals to construct the project.
Besides the proposed 3,277-square-foot building, the site would hold a 2,500-square-foot post-supported canopy to shelter four fuel pumps. The café would serve hot and cold prepared foods to be consumed by seated patrons on the premises.
A septic waste disposal system would be installed. A water well would provide drinking water. The site would hold 17 parking spaces.
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