MERIDEN — A new car wash proposed for a vacant, residentially-zoned property on North Broad Street is receiving pushback from neighbors.
Residents of nearby Twiss Avenue are concerned the car wash will harm Harbor Brook, which runs alongside the property. Neighbors are also uneasy about traffic and parking on an already busy stretch of Route 5.
“There are so many people who are upset about this and everybody’s got their own issue,” said Twiss Avenue resident Laura Ritter, who has about 80 signatures on a petition opposing the car wash.
The car wash would be built across from Ted’s Restaurant on three parcels at 1015, 1025, and 1043 N. Broad St. Vincent Porzio Jr., who owns other car washes in the state, wants to change the zoning of the three parcels from residential to commercial and will submit a site plan if the zoning is switched, according to Dennis Ceneviva, a local attorney representing Porzio.
Ritter and other Twiss Avenue residents say their properties flood during heavy rain, and they are concerned the development would exacerbate the problem.
“This ground soaks up a lot of that water,” Ritter said standing next to the proposed development site Friday.
Twiss Avenue resident Kevin Dossilva questioned whether “remnants” from the car wash will get into Harbor Brook. He and Ritter are also worried the development would affect wildlife — including deer, foxes, eagles and herons.
“It’s a wildlife refuge,” Ritter said.
Because there is a dearth of parking for businesses like Ted’s and Eastside Liquor, patrons park along North Broad. Because some of the on-street parking will be taken away by the car wash’s entrance and exit points, neighbors fear that will lead some to park on Twiss Avenue.
“Ted’s has no parking, the liquor store has no parking, so it comes onto our street,” Dossilva said.
The business, neighbors fear, could also lead to an increase in traffic. Less than a mile down the road, a new drive-through Dunkin’ Donuts is expected to go in at 944-950 Broad St.
“Traffic on Broad Street is so unbelievably bad,” Ritter said. “My son got hit coming out of the street once.”
Ceneviva emphasized Porzio, who applied as Wash Development LLC, is only applying for a zone change as of now and no site plan has been created. The residents’ concerns are legitimate, Ceneviva said, and all of them will be addressed in the plan. As part of the regular approval process, the applicant will have to address several issues like stormwater management, traffic, parking, and environmental impacts.
“My client is going to have to comply to make sure” wetlands on site aren’t impacted and that traffic and parking doesn’t impact neighbors, Ceneviva said.
Ceneviva said the zone change is consistent with the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development, which he said recommends “expanding commercial zones where there are contiguous commercial zones.”
“It’s another revenue source for the city, which is always a good thing,” Ceneviva said.
Neighbors don’t believe the tax revenue is worth it.
“Commercialization is good when it’s the right thing,” Dossilva said. “.. .When I first purchased my house (in 1993), one of the reasons I did it was because it was so quiet ... I sat in the backyard and fell asleep because it was so quiet.”
The City Council’s Economic Development, Housing, and Zoning subcommittee will hold a public hearing on the zone change petition on Tuesday. City Planner Renata Bertotti said the hearing will remain open after Tuesday because a legal notice put out by the city included the wrong day of the week for the public hearing. The committee’s decision on the zone change would then be sent as a recommendation to the full council.