At Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, Greenwich Police traffic technician Roger Drenth proposed a new loading zone for car carriers making deliveries to dealerships on West Putnam Ave.
The Board of Selectmen serve as the town’s traffic authority.
Residents have long complained that when Porsche’s loading zone on Edgewood Drive is occupied, additional car carriers offload cars in an active lane of traffic, forcing residents to the wrong side of the road around a blind curve.
It’s also not uncommon to see car carriers parked in active lanes of traffic on West Putnam Avenue.
Officer Drenth proposed the creation of a second loading zone, to be located by Miller Motorcars. It would be in the one-way section of Edgewood Ave (on the other side of West Putnam Ave) where currently there are seven one-hour parking spots typically used by dealership employees.
Porsche’s approved loading zone is located on Edgewood Drive (north of West Putnam Ave).
Drenth noted that when a carrier sits in the loading zone for 2-3 hours, a second carrier comes in behind it and parks in the active lane of traffic on the blind curve, causing a safety hazard.
Many residents use Edgewood Drive as a cut-through to Glenville, and Drenth said they are “taking their life in their hands trying to pass those trucks.”
“My idea is to alleviate that by giving them one more spot that they can deliver to, and they don’t have to sit out in a queue,” Drenth said.
Selectperson Jill Oberlander said she was concerned about unintended consequences.
Lauren Rabin asked where those employees would park if the seven spaces were removed. Drenth said they would use their own lots and noted Acura will be moving out and replaced by Mavis Tire.
P&Z director Katie DeLuca gave some background.
She said the existing loading zone on Edgewood Drive was created 10 years ago to deal with what she described was an “untenable situation among car dealerships.”
“There was parking by the dealers all along Prospect – car carriers everywhere. The original loading zone was a way to get them off the Post Road and onto Edgewood Drive to create a safer situation,” she explained.
She said since that time, many dealers including Mercedes, Porsche, BMW, Miller Motorcars and Audi had all come in for site plan approvals, and that the P&Z commission granted approval on the condition there is a designated parking area for employees and a designated loading/unloading area.
Dealers agreed to off site loading zones, with the exception of the Porsche dealership, which is permitted to use the loading zone on Edgewood Drive.
“We get calls frequently also about the dangerous condition that is created on Edgewood Drive due to the gross mismanagement, of who, I don’t know – whether it’s a collaboration of all of the dealers or these (hired car carrier drivers),” DeLuca said. “There’s no management whatsoever. Hence, the complete waste of the police resources to go out there and become the defacto managers for this business.”
DeLuca said she had spoken to the dealers about managing the situation.
“I can report that there was an absolutely excellent response from Audi, Mercedes and Miller, which were the three dealers we reached out to,” she said, adding that all three recommitted to complying with their site plans.
DeLuca said the manager of Mercedes even wrote a letter to Edgewood neighbors apologizing, and said vehicle pick ups and drop offs would be moved to their approved location on Old Track Road.
“I think we should remove the existing loading zone and have it for Porsche only because it is ripe for mismanagement,” DeLuca said. “There technically should be no reason for a loading zone at all. It would force good communication between dealers and car carriers.”
“I think it’s a mismanagement issue. I think it’s very dangerous on Edgewood Drive,” DeLuca said.
DeLuca said she had a philosophical issue with businesses using town resources to expand, and that the dealers should be able to comply with their site plan approvals.
“I don’t see why we should be using town parking spaces for their employees,” she added. “I don’t see why we should be giving them spaces for something they should be doing on their own properties.”
“I do fear that without staying on top of this, that it will go back to the way it was because I assume it’s human nature. That’s another reason I think we should get rid of the loading zone.”
P&Z chair Margarita Alban agreed that the Town of Greenwich should not give up resources to accommodate businesses behaving badly.
She added there was a possible backup plan to discuss with Greenwich Police, “Which is if we see a significant violation, that the town steps in and literally hits very hard with the high cost fines they were implementing – $92.00 – we hit hard and make it very clear, and follow up with a round of phone calls with the dealers.”
First Selectman Fred Camillo suggesting putting the alternate loading zone on hold, and revisiting the topic at the next Selectmen meeting.
“Let’s revisit it in two weeks and make a final decision then,” he said.