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February 27, 2024

Present: Mark Lockwood, Eric Myers, Robert Lavitt, Steven Muller, Eric Lukingbeal, Brennan Sheahan, and Alternate Paula Johnson, Director of Community Development Abigail Kenyon and Land Use Coordinator Renee Deltenre. Johnson was seated for Christine Chinni.

Application seeking a Special Permit under Zoning Regulations Section for a residential ground-mount solar energy system for property located at 200 Simsbury Road, R2A Zone: File Z-25-23.

The property owners are looking to install a hybrid solar array, which would consist of 26 roof-mount panels on a detached garage and 21 ground-mount panels on the adjacent lawn area. The ground-mount system would be 436 square feet in size, 12 feet in height, consist of anti-glare coated panels on black framing, and require the removal of two trees. Staff noted that abutter notifications were mailed, a permit was granted by the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission on Feb. 13, and the proposed system meets the zoning regulations.

There was no public comment.

The commission voted (7-0-0) to approve.

Application seeking a Site Plan Modification and Special Permit under Zoning Regulations Section for three storage structures, outdoor commercial activity/display, and other site improvements for a property located at 563 Salmon Brook Street, C2 Zone: File Z-1-24.

Applicant and property owner Jan Kahn, of New England Pine Timber Company is seeking permission to erect three carports; two measuring 13’x12’, and one measuring 80’x40’ to the rear and side of the building, which would be used for additional storage of equipment and material. Outdoor display areas are proposed along the street line to showcase equipment and products for sale, along with a wood privacy fence to the north of the building, which would help screen the storage areas from Salmon Brook Street. The applicant sells forestry equipment, chainsaws, firewood, and milling equipment, and offers custom mill and dry slabs to create tabletops, shelves, and mantles. Kenyon received an inquiry about outdoor activities and with the Building Official met with the property owner and explained that the outdoor storage areas require Special Permit approval and no such approval was granted and the applicant needed to apply.

Public Comment

Paul Bleimeyer of 18 Sawmill Road had concerns regarding increased noise levels, the potential for pollution, and questioned the Commission’s consideration for abutting residential property owners.

Jeff Salinardi of 17 East Street expressed concerns about the level of activity that has already occurred on-site since the property was purchased in June of 2022. He stated that numerous pieces of equipment have been brought on-site and listed for sale, questioning whether the property owner is operating a wood business or equipment sales business.

Commissioners’ Comments

Sheahan questioned the proposed outdoor display areas, which have since been reduced to two areas, instead of the three shown on the submitted site plan. Myers had concerns regarding the use of wood chips to assist with drainage issues behind the building, questioned a recent fire call to the property, and asked if the applicant would consider a different type of building instead of the carports.

Commissioners expressed the need for a more definitive plan including a full-size site plan drawn to scale indicating the exact size and location of all display areas, storage buildings, landscaping berms, fencing, outdoor commercial activity, parking, and dumpster. A business plan that provides details about hours of operation, trash management, and a description of the overall activities must be submitted. The public hearing was continued to March 12.

Application seeking Site Plan approval under Connecticut General Statutes Section 8- 30g for a 42-unit multi-family development and associated site improvements for property located at 37 Hartford Avenue, COCE Zone: File Z-4-24.

The above application was presented to the commission on March 12 and the public hearing will be on April 9.

Informal/Pre-Application Discussion: Proposed 2-lot subdivision at 200 Case Street (formerly part of 186 Case Street) and open space

Kenyon provided a memorandum to the commission to offer background information on the properties, as well as the owner’s request. In the fall of 2023, the property owners filed a first cut from 186 Case Street, which split the property into two pieces; one piece is 66.165 acres (known as 186 Case Street) and the other 20.073 acres (to be known as 200 Case Street). The property owner(s) are now proposing to subdivide the 20.073-acre piece to create two lots; a 5-acre lot that would be sold as a building lot and the 15-acre lot would be retained by one of the property owners and farmed.

Stanley Kardys of 201 Case Street discussed the possibility of utilizing an agricultural easement through the State of Connecticut to satisfy the requirement for the dedication of open space as part of the subdivision approval process. Since an approval from the state can take up to two years to receive, the owners are looking to post a bond with the Town. The bond would be the same amount that would be required if the applicant were proposing to submit a fee in lieu of open space to satisfy the open space requirement. If the easement is not approved, then the bond can be used to satisfy the fee in lieu of open space. Kenyon stated that this proposed subdivision does not constitute a phased development under the regulations and explained the open space requirements outlined within the subdivision regulations.

It is staff’s opinion that the potential subdivision application would require four acres of dedicated open space, which could be in the form of an agricultural easement through the State of Connecticut; however, that would have to be completed prior to filing the mylars. The commission stated that the property owner(s) could consider applying for a text amendment if they would like the commission to consider another method to satisfy the open space requirement, or the applicant could follow the current regulations and either propose a fee in lieu of open space or dedicate open space.

Informal Discussion: Special Event Venue/Banquet Facility at 335 Salmon Brook Street

Sarah Cowles-Gentile of 80 Haven Drive and John Orszulak of 157 Wells Road would like to open an event space at 335 Salmon Brook Street to host events and activities such as, instructional classes, paint nights, fundraisers, meetings, celebrations, etc. The space would be available for booking by appointment only, for gatherings under 50 people between 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Outside alcohol would not be permitted but could be provided upon request through a licensed caterer.

Staff stated that event spaces are not specifically included in the zoning regulations, nor is one of the uses currently listed in the regulations considered comparable. Typically, such spaces have been treated as an accessory use to an existing restaurant; therefore, it is recommended that a restaurant use be established or a text amendment to the zoning regulations be proposed.

The commission recommended that the parties work with town staff on moving forward with an established restaurant use, where the event space would be accessory.