MERIDEN — About a dozen residents spoke out Tuesday night against a plan to change the city’s zoning map to allow three Broad Street parcels to move from a residential zone to a commercial zone.
They expressed concerns that new commercial development along the stretch of Route 5 would make traffic conditions more hazardous and harm nearby Harbor Brook. Most of the speakers lived on nearby Twiss and Orchard streets.
But after closing the public hearing, members of the City Council’s Economic Development Housing and Zoning Committee voted 3 to 2 to allow 1015, 1025 and 1043 to be developed commercially. The zone change still needs final approval from the full City Council.
Councilors Sonja Jelks and Michael Cardona voted against the proposal. Councilors Dan Brunet, Bruce Fontanella and David Lowell supported the zone change.
Vincent Porzio, doing business as Wash Development LLC, requested the zone change to allow for development of a car wash on the property. Local land use attorney Dennis Ceneviva, Porzio’s lawyer, argued that Tuesday’s vote was approving a zone change, not a car wash.
Ceneviva said the zone change fits with the city’s 2009 Plan of Conservation and Development, which calls for more development along the city’s commercial corridors, including Broad Street.
The zone change is only the first step and does not guarantee a car wash will be built on the property, said City Planner Renata Bertottil.
Bertotti and City Economic Development Director Joseph Feest supported the zone change.
But the residents had concerns about wildlife, noise, and parking.
“How can you put in a noisy C-3 zone in a wetland?” asked Ed Powell of Orchard Street.
William Foreman, the owner of Ted’s Restaurant, said the new business proposed for across the street will harm him because he’s landlocked with no room for parking.
Lowell, committee chairman, reminded the public that there are at least 10 regulatory hurdles any application must pass.
“I have confidence your concerns will not go unaddressed in the approval process,” he said.