R.W. Hine Hardware in Cheshire granted special overlay zone

CHESHIRE — For decades, residents have been patronizing R. W. Hine Ace Hardware.

Yet, in the last year, as the pandemic raged throughout the nation, both the business and its customers have had to adapt.

R. W. Hine, 231 Maple Ave., has opened up its business to pickup and delivery for its customers during the pandemic and now, they are looking to expand their “special development district” overlay zone to include six additional properties. 

“The business owner, Pat Bowman, has been experiencing significant changes in his business, specifically in the department of pickup and delivery,” said attorney Anthony Fazzone, of Fazzone Ryan & Ricciuti, LLC, during a PZC meeting last month. “Pat has experience in this field and, based on his knowledge of the industry, he sees his business increasing in delivery and pickup orders.”

By merging commercial and residential uses of the area, R. W. Hine Ace Hardware and the surrounding properties can avoid zoning hurdles if they wish to develop the properties further. Fazzone pointed out that owners of the surrounding properties and R. W. Hine have a common goal of developing the area as a whole.

Fazzone also explained that the area where R. W. Hine Ace Hardware is currently located on Maple Avenue is a prime center for business, and allowing the area to become a special development district would help increase business and coordinate development among establishments that are currently there. 

“The building has been on the site for a long time, and the SDD overlay would give flexibility to coordinate development with the current properties there,” Fazzone said. “On the corner of West Main is a commercial property (Red Owl Gifts), there is a car rental place, (Enterprise), some office space, and some residential. One of the intentions of the plan of conservation was to coordinate residential (properties) with commercial (properties), and attract business to the center of town.”

Commissioner Rob Brucato asked Fazzone about the old gas station pumps that are still currently at the R. W. Hine Ace Hardware location, and if they can be removed.

“They can be,” Fazzone responded. “It depends on the traffic pattern with the entire property …”

Resident Mary Cabrera, who lives near the store, approached the podium with her concerns about the special development district impacting her residential home. 

“We love Pat, and we think he has been a great neighbor,” she began. “But what I am concerned about is, if he leaves, what can go in its place. The neighborhood wants to be aware of what is going on. Does this new district mean there is going to be a development built potentially?”

Town Planner William Voelker explained to Cabrera that there is no development plan in process and any plans to develop the area would still need to come before the Planning and Zoning Commission before any decisions are made. 

“All abutting property owners will receive notice of any public hearing, including those across the street,” Fazzone added. 

Resident Samantha Eriksen-Brown mentioned her concern about increased traffic in the area if it were to be developed more than what it is now. She also expressed frustration that allowing the special development district without any development in mind is “backwards.”

“This is how the zoning regulations are structured,” Voelker said. “The Planning and Zoning Commission decides on applying the overlay district, which then enables development applications. This allows for the applicant to develop a plan, come to the PZC for a public hearing, and then neighbors can come in and speak on the plan.”

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