SOUTHINGTON — A zone change could lead to industrial expansion on part of a West Street driving range following town approval Tuesday night.
A nearby business owner, Frank Fragola, and his family bought the former Highland Golf Range early last year to expand their nearby F.K. Bearings factory on West Queen Street. The Fragola’s own several companies that produce parts for high-performance cars, rod ends, bearings and more.
While the plan originally had the entire four-acre driving range converted from a business zone to an industrial zone, Tuesday’s application only included 2.6 acres in the northwest corner of the property. Sev Bovino, a planner representing Fragola, said they’d taken into consideration concerns from neighboring homeowners about being adjacent to a factory.
The driving range property is next to homes on Westover Lane and Cloverdale Road.
“That addition will not be close to the residential area at all,” Bovino said.
The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the zone change during Tuesday’s meeting. The new zoning allows more factory uses than the former business zone designation.
Commissioner members were glad that Fragola had modified his request based on neighbors’ concerns.
Cloverdale Road and Westover Lane residents attended Tuesday’s meeting and voiced concerns about drainage, the visibility of the proposed addition and pollution from the factory.
“At the moment our wells are not contaminated,” said Karen Gonzalez, a Cloverdale Road resident. “If he’s going to build another piece of factory, we’re concerned our wells will become contaminated.”
Bob Hammersley, commission chairman, said those details would be considered when company owners came to the town with a site plan for the proposed building.
Bovino said there are water runoff and other environmental regulations by which any factory has to abide. There are also town laws about preventing water from one property flooding another.
“Even if we develop the entire (driving range property), we still have to abide by a lot of laws and regulations,” he said. “Whatever happens, it’s not going to create a problem.”
Commission members said they were glad that the town was getting more industrial land.
Christina Volpe said Fragola had shown attention to detail in keeping the industrial expansion away from neighborhoods. She was glad for the growth of town industries.
“We do certainly have a need for it,” Volpe said.
The driving range was owned by the Merrell family who tried unsuccessfully to sell the property for $2.2 million. Fragola bought the land for $1.275 million, according to town records.