On Tuesday the Planning & Zoning commission heard a proposal for changes to the property at 21 Glenville Street that was formerly home to Stop & Shop.
Residents on the west side of town have repeatedly voiced their strong desire for a supermarket at the location.
The property contains 6.2 acres, of which, 2.8 acres zoned commercial and 3.4 acres are residential.
The applicant’s attorney said there is a potential supermarket tenant who is concerned about a “parking deficiency.”
Hence the desire to add more zoned commercially acreage in order to add 57 new parking spaces at the rear of the building.
The commission had concerns that the area drawn for the re-zone might be larger than necessary. Noting that on the east and west sides of the property there are some steep slopes and rocks, they urged the applicant to minimize excavation and destruction of the topography.
Attorney Tom Heagney for the applicant said the parking would increase from 114 to 171 spaces, plus 8 handicapped spaces at the front of the property.
He said supermarket chains had expressed they need to bring WB-62 (62 foot) tractor trailers onto the property and turn around.
Traffic consultant Bernard Adler said employees would park behind the building, resulting in less frequent turnover, and that trucks would basically pull a u-turn in that area.
P&Z chair Margarita Alban said the application was a good opportunity to do more to incorporate the town’s new landscaping regulations.
“We’re hoping you don’t get massive – just asphalt and just cars,” she said. “I know not everyone drives around a parking lot until they find shade, but some of us do.”
Mr. Heagney said he had consulted with Matt Popp, the landscape architect on the project, to look for opportunities to add more shade trees on the site.
Deputy P&Z director Tracy Kulikowski said the landscaping for the parking lot would be reviewed by the tree warden and the Architectural Review Committee.
“I don’t want it to go to ARC until we have the scope of the re-zone settled,” Alban said.
Commissioner Arn Welles said he was surprised there had been no traffic study given there is a proposal for more parking and increased volume to make the supermarket viable.
“What about the impact on traffic on Glenville Ridge, coming down, where traffic is a big issue and the town has recognized that,” he said. “To evaluate this, we need to find out what is the impact on traffic.”
Mr. Adler said the square footage of the existing buildings will not change. Nor will the use. Only the amount of parking would increase to satisfy the new supermarket.
“I completely disagree and that is not logical. Your owner would not be increasing parking unless he expected additional people to come there,” Welles said. “If you have more parking there will be more people coming there. Hence, more vehicles.”
“Right now the volume is zero,” Welles continued. “The building is empty. What is your expectation in terms of volume, and you do your traffic study based on that.”
Mr. Heagney said if the traffic study was based on square footage and uses on the site, it wouldn’t change.
“Then you have flawed assumptions, you need to evaluate your assumptions,” Welles replied.
“There’s a book and he says what the trips are for a supermarket and it basically says what a supermarket therefore requires based on the ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers),” Alban said.
“What happened to Stop & Shop – it closed in part, I’m guessing, because it didn’t have enough inventory, because it didn’t have enough customers, because it didn’t have enough parking, and you have the chicken and the egg.”
“We know the use failed on this site. Let’s assume, for the purpose of this exercise, it’s because there wasn’t enough parking. By adding 57 spaces, this is what we expect will occur,” Alban asked.
Commissioner Peter Lowe said he was concerned about the potential impact of increased traffic on the neighborhood.
“It’s like-use to like-use. We can’t impose conditions on the applicant that are different, because the use is not changing,” Alban said.
A joke was made about Yogi Berra who famously said, ‘“Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”
Mr. Larow asked if it might be possible that more trips would be generated if people came to the shopping center and departed if they couldn’t find a parking spot.
“It’s a smaller parking lot and doesn’t generate the number of trips that a larger supermarket would generate,” Mr. Adler said, noting that people would learn the peak retail times and adjust their visits.
Mr. Welles noted that the Conservation Commission had warned about environmental costs: earth and woods being removed, increased pervious surface, and an increase in heat island effect.
“That’s why we’re asking for enhanced landscaping and for them to think about that,” Alban said, adding that at the recent Glenville community forum neighbors expressed concern about losing the supermarket.
There were no pubic comments.The application was left open.