Panel Approves Dealership Plan in Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — The Planning and Zoning Commission, meeting Thursday, January 2, approved an application for a motor vehicle dealership and accessory uses at 1628, 1648 and 1672 Straits Tpke. Before closing the public hearing, Chair Terry Smith read aloud a letter from Planning Consultant Hiram Peck, AICP, which explained he had reviewed the site and submitted a technical report. He had also met with the applicant’s technical team to share his recommendations.

Noting that the application is also in review with the city of Waterbury, Mr. Peck said that a denial in that area should negate an approval in Middlebury.

He addressed the southbound egress and the fact that the state Department of Transportation will review this design, suggesting that town officials carefully review the DOT input.

Additional concerns include a potentially insufficient emergency turnaround area and emphasized that no outdoor speaker or paging systems should be implemented because of the proximity of neighboring residents.

Hours of operation for excavation efforts should also be carefully monitored.

Mr. Peck suggested the use of permeable surfacing for the parking areas and other sustainable attributes such as the use of solar panels; the applicant’s team had responded that panels would interfere with planned skylights.

The application includes a special exception for signage and Mr. Peck recommended that the commission should satisfy itself that the size and lighting of one monument and one pilon sign is necessary.

Water quality retention basins along the front and northwest areas of the property should contain proper plantings that can survive and thrive in harsh growing conditions.

Speaking to the commission, Naugatuck Attorney Michael McVerry, who represented Boch Middlebury-Waterbury LLC, reminded the commission that the lot is about 3.5 acres in size with a 27,900-square-foot building.

The current Subaru dealership in Watertown would move to this new facility.

Mr. McVerry referred to the approval process to say that Waterbury is waiting for Middlebury’s action on this matter and should Waterbury fail to grant approval, there is insufficient land to meet setback and other requirements to move forward with the project.

He pointed out that most of the parking area is located in Waterbury and the applicant’s representative referred to plans that detail the proposed storm water management that encourages infiltration into the soil and groundwater recharge.

According to the applicant’s technical representative, permeable pavement installation requires annual vacuuming of sediment and is likely to clog.

The applicant is willing to work with Mr. Peck on landscaping.

In other business, the commission opened a public hearing for a livery, board stables and riding academy at 147 Kissewaug Rd.

The site plan describes a new horse barn with 40 stalls and indoor riding arena with a gravel driveway, all more than 300 feet from neighboring property lines.

The expected traffic will be a half dozen people at a time, maximum.

Lessons will be one-on-one with no trail riding offered.

Approximately a dozen people were present at the meeting to show support for the project, describing the facility as an asset to the town.

Several of the supporters were from other towns and indicated they would bring an economic boost to local businesses as they visited the riding academy.

The application has not appeared before the Conservation Commission and Mr. Smith said that commission must sign off on the plans before Planning and Zoning Commission could act.

The public hearing was held open until February 6.

Before adjourning, the commission addressed a complaint filed by a Middlebury residents John J. Starr and Shauna McManus regarding work done at a neighboring property at 3 Sandy Beach Rd.

Mr. Smith confirmed that none of the commissioners are members of the Sandy Beach Club before he outlined a plan to determine what is within the commission’s jurisdiction.

The commission has been charged to render a decision on whether certain modifications at 3 Sandy Beach Rd. has expanded the swim club commercial operation at that address.

Mr. Smith said he wants to compile a list of issues within that jurisdiction for the February meeting and send that information for legal review.

In March, the commission would weigh the two opinions to render a decision in April.

The chair had reviewed the town regulations, the zoning map and an interpretation of the zoning map to point out that zone lines follow property lines at Lake Quassapaug to suggest that the scope of complaints addressed by the commission should be limited to land and not water-based items.

None of the commissioners could remember making decisions regarding the lake and agreed with the resolution to limit the scope of work to investigating issues within the property boundary of 3 Sandy Beach Rd. as documented on the assessor’s map, which follows the shoreline.

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