Concerns over traffic surround Route 10 car wash in Cheshire

CHESHIRE — The Planning and Zoning Commission recently held two public hearings, one of which concerns a local business planned for the old Arby’s site on South Main Street.

Issues mainly relating to traffic will require that a proposed car wash at 980 South Main St. will have to come back before the PZC at a later date. The proposed facility would make use of the current footprint of the vacant Arby’s restaurant, which still has a multi-year lease on the property, with “no additional land clearing.” It would add a water separator and could be used by as many 18 cars, theoretically, on its lot. The facility would also have 14 vacuum units to be located on the back side of the property, explained engineer Stephen Giudice.

Commissioner Casey Downes read a letter from the Regional Water Authority that stated, in part, that “this project does not meet our recommended minimum wetlands setback goal of 50 feet.”

“So, why would we do this if it doesn’t meet the minimum?” she asked.

Town Planner Michael Glidden said that the RWA “doesn’t have the authority to make that call,” pointing out that the Town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission has already granted their approval to what is an “existing condition.”

“That comment is really out of their (RWA) lane,” he added.

Commissioners Jeff Natale and Tom Selmont both mentioned that the neighboring Starbucks had created a queuing problem at times in its drive-through, with cars backed out onto Route 10. Giudice said that the car wash, in his firm’s analysis, would likely be less peak traffic than what Arby’s generated.

The property owner, Ken Ginsberg, said he had his own car washed twice a week, but usually went at times when those businesses were not so busy as to create a long wait. He also mentioned that Town staff had requested that the developers locate the vacuums behind the proposed building.

“We did what the Town wanted and put the queuing in the front and the vacuums in the back,” he said, noting that for a car wash the vacuums are “extremely important.” Moving the vacuums to the front to draw more attention from motorists, “would be the greatest thing in the world for us.”

Both Ginsberg and Natale noted that there is not a car wash currently located on the south end of Cheshire. However, a second car wash is also looking at the south end and seeking regulatory approvals. A company called Cheshire Modwash is coming before the Water Pollution Control Authority on May 25, seeking an extension of the public sewer for a proposed facility at 830 South Main Street, about a 5-minute walk or 1-minute drive away from 980 South Main, depending on traffic.

The bulk of the rest of their discussion on May 22 was spent on potential cannabis regulations. No vote was taken on the matter, as Glidden explained that he will be drafting what is likely to be a pair of proposals regarding cannabis for a final PZC vote. Commissioners must act within a 65-day window following the public hearing, which was held earlier in May. In an unplanned bit of symmetry, that mandatory action date and the expiration of the temporary moratorium both fall on July 12, but the PZC plans to adopt its regulations before that time.

Following the vocal display of objections to allowing cannabis during its May 8 public hearing, the PZC has signaled that any regulations would be strictly defined. Although several commissioners were not present for the May 22 meeting, the consensus among those present was in support of Glidden’s so-called third option: prohibiting retail sales of cannabis while continuing to allow micro-cultivation, as regulations currently do. Any such operator would still need to qualify for a state license and be subject to current locational restrictions as well, per Glidden.

A second option the PZC is likely to consider would prohibit all commercial cannabis operations in Cheshire, though that would require the additional step of eliminating the micro-cultivator use from the regulations via another public hearing, as Todisco and Glidden discussed.

Other options would include allowing all permissible cannabis operations per state statutes, or carving out certain acceptable uses in narrowly-defined zones.

Commissioners also approved an application involving modifications to an office off Maple Avenue. Alyssa Pillion, who owns Connecticut Real Estate Management, a property management company, was seeking approval for some modest changes on her property at 556 Maple Ave., within the R-20A zone, where she employs six staffers, including herself. The office, she explained, has “limited customer traffic,” and ordinary business hours.

One neighbor, Guy Darter, came to the hearing to express his desire that the neighborhood keep its “residential” character, and asked for any proposed signage to be modestly-sized and unlit.

Pillion agreed, “to satisfy my neighbors.”

In voting to approve Pillion’s site plans, Commissioner Anita Blake commented, “How great it (is) to see property owners around you and you working together to come to a resolution that works for everybody.”


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