SOUTHINGTON — LongHorn Steakhouse can move forward with plans for a location off West Street thanks to approval from town planners despite concerns about traffic problems in the area.
LongHorn Steakhouse plans to build a restaurant in front of 200 Executive Boulevard, office buildings once occupied by the Hartford insurance company that face West Street. The planned location is next to a retail development.
Since the restaurant will have an entrance off Executive Boulevard that leads to Target, Lowes, HomeGoods and other stores, a Planning and Zoning Commission member Tuesday wanted traffic improvements to be included in the restaurant’s approval.
Commission vice chairman Paul Chaplinsky said drivers are confused by a turning lane heading towards the stores that comes up quickly. He asked if property owner Joe Moruzzi would make improvements or an expansion to the road.
Stephen Giudice, a planner representing Moruzzi's application, offered an easement that the town could use for a future road expansion. He said adding a lane or similar changes would be expensive, wouldn’t address the traffic issue and wasn’t related to the restaurant application.
“I don’t think more lanes are a solution to people who don’t pay attention to street signs,” he said.
Chaplinsky said it was the commission’s job to encourage improvements when there are plans to build in an area.
“It’s a tough area, but each time we have to make things a little better here,” he said.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Chaplinsky made the motion to approve the LongHorn application. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the plan, which calls for a 5,000 square-foot restaurant and parking on West Street.
Commissioners said they appreciated the offer of an easement.
“That’s probably not your cross to bear,” said commission member James Morelli. “I applaud you for coming back with that.”
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