MERIDEN — Foster Street will remain as it is, for now, after the Planning Commission voted to table a proposal from members of the LaRosa family to have the city abandon a section of the street.
Doing business as 152-160 Colony St. LLC, John and Joseph LaRosa own the former tire retreading plant on the site after which the company is named. It is in the process of being converted into an 11,000-square-foot C-Town supermarket. The LaRosas also own 138 Colony St., a parking lot to the south, which stands at the corner of Colony and Foster streets. In addition, they own the former Home Club building at 128 Colony St., which stands on the opposite side of Foster Street.
The LaRosas are petitioning the city to abandon a section of Foster Street, which would allow them to take ownership of the area, according to their attorney, Dennis Ceneviva.
“There is the prospect of the possible use of 128 Colony St. ,with the first floor being retail and possibly some apartments above, but there really is no parking,” Ceneviva said. “When it was the Home Club, (parking) was a problem.”
Owning four consecutive properties, Ceneviva said, would give his clients additional space for parking needs. They are only requesting slightly over half of the street, as they want to avoid issues with others with residences on the street.
City Planner Dominick Caruso said he is open to the idea, but doesn’t “want to abandon the street and just let it sit there without any kind of activity on either property.” Caruso said if the LaRosas come forward with more detailed plans and a timeline, the city may be more open to abandoning the site for economic development. The commission agreed, voting to table the decision until next month’s meeting.
In other business, the commission also tabled a decision to allow an electronic billboard to be installed at 470 Murdock Ave., which currently has a traditional billboard on the property. The city has proposed an electronic billboard for the lot adjacent to the south, which is Nessing Field. Caruso had recommended against allowing the new billboard, because it would be too close to the city’s electronic billboard, based on recently passed regulations.
Ceneviva, who represented DCF of Meriden, argued that the city’s regulations require a billboard to be standing for his client’s billboard to be disallowed. Currently, the 470 Murdock Ave. billboard is the only one in place and is the reason the state Department of Transportation has halted progress on the city’s billboard.
“The city will do everything in its power to get what it wants. The city gets what it wants,” Ceneviva said. “What the city has today is nothing. ... It is not built because the state has the final word on that.”
State regulations require any billboard to be at least 1,500 feet from another, Ceneviva said. In approving an electronic billboard on its own land, Ceneviva said the city ignored its present zoning regulations. The City Council is meeting tonight and could vote to turn a section of the city-owned parcel into an industrial zone.
The commission voted to table the matter and wait to see if the state DOT denies the city’s application for the electronic billboard. The applicant at 470 Murdock Ave. could then move forward with its electronic billboard without contention.
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