MERIDEN — Neighbors who live near three lots on Broad Street that could be home to a car wash continue to speak out against the plan.
Earlier this month, the city’s Planning Commission voted 4 to 1 to change the zone from R-1 residential to a C-3 commercial zone. Although there is no site plan filed for the lots, the request for the change came from a car wash developer. The commission’s zone change recommendation still needs City Council approval
Vincent Porzio, doing business as Wash Development LLC, resubmitted his request for a zone change because an earlier one included the wrong lot addresses.
Before the vote, Planning Commission Chairman Enrico Buccilli allowed members of the public to voice their concerns even though the public hearing portion of the application process had closed. He reminded them that any site plan application will have to win wetlands approval before it comes back before the Planning Commission. The commissioners who supported the zone change felt it was in compliance with the city’s 2009 Plan of Conservation and Development.
Neighbors are concerned about environmental impact, traffic and parking.
“We are not against all business, just the ones that by the city’s definition would disturb the residential areas.” said Edward Powell, who lives on Orchard Street.
Attorney Dennis Ceneviva, who represents the car wash owner, presented a revised zoning map that appears to move any development on the lots away from wetland areas. Ceneviva could not be reached for comment on the neighbors’ concerns.
Residents are worried about potential traffic congestion on Broad Street (Route 5) as well as car wash customers parking along the street. They have also told city officials that wildlife, including deer eagles and heron have been observed in the wetland area of the lots.
Holly Wills, president of the city’s Council of Neighborhoods, is concerned about potential water pollution from a carwash, and said she believes the properties should remain in the R-1 zone to maintain quality of life for nearby residents.
A representative from the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association also spoke against the plan, according to minutes from the Planning Commission meeting earlier this month.
According to the meeting minutes, Ceneviva said that the proposal does not impact Harbor Brook. He also cited the Plan of Conservation and Development which says that 9.9 percent of Meriden’s land is devoted to commercial or industrial use, adding that some similar-sized municipalities have 12 to 15 percent of land as commercial and industrial use.
Ceneviva also pointed out that even if the zone change is approved, any plan for the property would have to win another round of land-use committee approvals.
Planning Commissioner Laura Uhrig voted against the zone change. She could not be reached to comment on Monday.
In an interview Monday, City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest agreed with other city officials that Broad Street could absorb more commercial growth “in a controlled fashion.”
The zone change is scheduled to come before the City Council’s Economic Development Housing and Zoning Committee on July 16. The public will have a chance to speak at the meeting.
After the committee makes a recommendation, the zone change would go before the full City Council.
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