Planning & Zoning Commission minutes: January 8, 2019

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Action on the minutes of December 11, 2018 

The minutes of December 11, 2018 were reviewed.

ON A MOTION by James Sansone seconded by Charles Kraiza the commission voted (4-0-2) to approve the minutes of December 11, 2018. Eric Lukingbeal and Margaret Chapple abstained. 

Informal Discussion

Discuss possible redevelopment of 6 Hartford Avenue, gas station.

Abby Kenyon stated this item will be discussed at the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Jan. 22, 2019. 

Public Hearings

Application seeking an amendment to Zoning Regulations Sections 3.5.2, 8.21.4 and 8.21.9 that would allow by Special Permit a self-storage facility in the Business (C2) and Aquifer Protection Overlay Zones. File Z-23-18.

Wilson Alford Jr., PE of Alford Associates, Inc. addressed the commission about a proposed amendment to the Zoning Regulations that would allow a self-storage facility in the Business and Aquifer Protection Overlay Zones by Special Permit. Alford recapped the commission’s concern from the September 25, 2018 informal discussion regarding the impact this facility could pose to the aquifer. He explained renters would sign a contract prohibiting the storage of hazardous materials. Margaret Chapple asked how the stored items would be monitored. Jeff Michaelson, Contractor, addressed the commission and said there would be 24/7 camera monitoring on the facility but you wouldn’t be able to see what was actually being stored unless a staff member took notice at the time items were loaded into a unit. James Sansone asked what engineering safeguards would be in place in the event that the aquifer is compromised. Alford responded that his team would come up with engineering solutions that would satisfy the commission but there were no specifics at this time. 

Paula Johnson opened the floor for public comment.

The following people spoke against the application: Christine Roche, 198 Salmon Brook Street; Bob Nimmo, 37 Spring Glen; Jean Perron, 25 Archie Lane; and Sandy Crain, 20 East Street. They noted the lack of oversight to monitor what is being stored in the units; there are other facilities in the area that have vacant units and therefore feel there is not a need for a storage facility in town; that the proposed use is not appropriate on Salmon Brook Street in a location that is a gateway to the town; and the risks the facility poses to the environment are too great.

Jack Lareau, Salmon Brook Water District, noted the district has no objection to the proposed use but should there be an issue with contamination, the district could vote to dissolve and the Town would have to step in. Mr. Lareau also explained the district would likely begin Level A mapping in the coming year and would have a better idea of exactly where the aquifer and drawdown area are located. He also stated land use regulations would then have to be drafted to comply with the state model ordinance regarding aquifer protection.

The commissioners discussed the application. It was noted it may be better to wait for the results of the Level A mapping as this would provide more information about the extent of the aquifer. The commission also noted concerns regarding the potential contamination of the aquifer from the proposed use and that the risk to the town was too great. 

The commission stated for the record letters were also received from the Farmington River Watershed Association and Sara Ryan, 15 Halwood Drive.

The commission decided to keep the public hearing open until the next Planning and Zoning meeting on January 22, 2019.

Application seeking a change of zone from Economic Development (ED) to Business (C2) for property located at 100 Salmon Brook Street. File Z-24-18.

Wilson Alford Jr., PE of Alford Associates, Inc. addressed the Commission about the proposed zone change from Economic Development (ED) to the Business (C2) Zone. He displayed a map of the area and explained the property slopes downward and there is a waterbody separating 100 Salmon Brook Street from the adjacent property to the south, which is in the ED Zone. Alford said this is a natural boundary and therefore it makes sense for the zone boundary to follow this. Alford went on to explain a small portion of the property is currently zoned C2, rezoning the entire piece to C2 would be consistent with the properties to the north along Mill Pond Drive.

Paula Johnson opened the floor to for public comment.

Fred Jones, 19 Copper Brook Circle; Amy Gallant, 9R Brook Pasture Lane; and Bob Nimmo, 37 Spring Glen, commented on the application.

In response to comments, Abby Kenyon noted Inland and Wetlands Commission approval is not required for a zone change application but prior to any site development application, the wetlands would have to be mapped and its approval may be required. Eric Lukingbeal also explained anyone can propose a change of a zone and if asked ‘why’ the applicant does not have to explain their development plans for the property. However, given the previous application this evening, it was noted the applicant would like to construct a self-storage facility on the property. 

The commission discussed the application. They reviewed uses that would currently be allowed in the ED Zone and those that would be allowed if the property were changed to the C2 Zone. Kenyon explained the ED Zoning Regulation outlines a comprehensive plan for the entire ED Zone, including internal access roads. Given the natural separation of 100 Salmon Brook Street from the remaining ED properties, it may be appropriate to consider the zone change, as the property is somewhat separated from the remaining ED Zoned land. It was also noted while the ED Zone Regulations outline specific building, landscape, and site standards, any site development in the C2 would still have to meet building and site criteria in the Zoning Regulations and as part of this, the commission could require a landscape buffer. The commission discussed the various uses allowed in the zone, access to the property, and the zone of properties along Mill Pond Drive.

The public hearing was closed for the application. Paula Johnson stated the commission has 65 days to come to a decision. 

Consideration of the above applications, where the Commission has concluded the public hearing.

The application seeking a change of zone from Economic Development (ED) to Business (C2) for property located at 100 Salmon Brook Street was closed. The Commission has 65 days to render a decision.

Appointment to CRCOG’s Regional Planning Commission

Abby Kenyon stated that CRCOG is requesting a representative and an alternate to serve on the Regional Planning Commission. The commissioners will let her know if anyone is interested and the commission can vote on a member appointment at a future meeting.

Staff Reports and Correspondence

There is a DOT public informational meeting regarding the town center intersection improvements on January 15, 2019 at the Granby Senior Center at 7 p.m.

Kenyon noted there may be a conflict with the meeting space for the January 22, 2019 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. She will inform the commission of the new location if the meeting has to be relocated. 

Commission discussion of items of interest or concern

Paula Johnson stated she had driven by the back area of Starbucks to check on the recycling bin location. Kenyon mentioned that the Zoning Enforcement Officer, William Volovski, had met with the property owner. It was noted that Starbucks and other businesses had modified their recycling/trash container locations to comply with the approved plan.

Jonathan Boardman noted that the new law office sign located at 4 East Granby Road does not appear to be in the location approved by the commission. He asked that staff look into that. 

There was brief discussion about the newly installed sidewalk lighting. It was noted additional shields for the lights have been purchased.