MERIDEN — A 50-acre site that was once rejected by the city for a proposed auto auction business — a decision upheld by the state Supreme Court — is being considered for a 163,000-square foot warehouse and distribution operation.
The site at 850 Murdock Ave. is owned by car dealership entrepreneur and developer John Orsini. Doing business as Mark Development, Orsini is asking the city’s Planning Commission on Wednesday to approve site plans for the facility and 195,000 square feet for parking and pavement. A virtual public hearing on the proposal is set for 6:30 p.m.
The land is zoned RDD or regional development district. The RDD zone allows “such a district is to further the economic base of the city by providing for development of a regional scale along the interstate highway system in an attractive, efficient, environmentally sensitive campus setting,” according to city zoning laws.
Permitted uses in an RDD zone include: Conference center or hotel, executive offices, research and development, medical centers, a state accredited college or university, and warehouse and distribution of approved uses.
Local land use attorney Dennis Ceneviva, who represents Orsini, would not name the new tenant but said it’s a Branford-based warehouse operation that is consolidating seven existing warehouses and building office headquarters. A lease was signed recently contingent on city approval.
“The feedback has been very positive,” Ceneviva said. “It’s what the neighbors wanted years ago. It’s what John has built across the street.”
After the auto auction fell through, Orsini went on to build a corporate park along the Wallingford/Meriden border for warehouse and distribution users including Best Buy electronics and appliances. Flexo Converter Inc., a global bag manufacturer, is adjacent to the property.
A central criticism of the auto auction proposal was the anticipated volume of truck traffic in the neighborhood of former farms near the Wallingford line. Ceneviva is confident the new use is more conducive.
A traffic impact analysis commissioned by Orsini reports the “proposed project can be accommodated without adverse impact on the operating conditions of the study area roadway network,” according to information provided to the city.
The project will share a one-way driveway from a controlled intersection with Flexo Converters and common access from Northrop Road to meet the requirements for “a campus-like setting.”
The hours of operation are Monday to Saturday 4 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a skeleton crew on Sundays when needed. The anticipated 15 employees could change based on business operations, Ceneviva said.
The site contains some wetlands, and Orsini plans no work in the wetland other than plant an evergreen screen in the upland review area, which has been approved by the city’s Inlands Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, according to Planning Department documents.
City Planning Department staff has made some comments and recommends conditional approval based on responses to those comments. Some of the recommendations include a stormwater management plan filed in the city’s land records, and a bond set for erosion controls and other measures to protect public safety and infrastructure, according to the department.
City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest lauded the development for fitting in with the neighborhood and the region. He pointed to Flexo Converter as an example of quality development in the area.
“If it’s approved by the commission, it’s a positive,” Feest said. “We’re in the market for these uses. The location (near Interstate 91) is conducive for distribution.”
Orsini presented tax data that show a smaller developed property generated $220,000 in property taxes for the city compared to $19,000 the larger parcel now generates as vacant land.
The public can comment on the proposal via email, phone and live written comments in the question and answer section of the meeting. Emailed comments to firstname.lastname@example.org will be closed one hour prior to the start of the meeting.
The meeting can be accessed from the city of Meriden’s online calendar or from this link:https://tinyurl.com/y7o65xex. To provide public comments during the meeting call: (866) 342-8588 Conference ID: 87514.