July 27, 2017

Essex Zoning Commission Resumes Public Hearings Monday on Apartment Complex and Centerbrook Cumberland Farms Rebuild

ESSEX — The zoning commission will resume public hearings Monday on two large-scale development proposals, a proposed 52-unit apartment complex on Plains Rd., and a rebuild and expansion of the Cumberland Farms store at 82 Main St. in the Centerbrook section. The hearings reconvene at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at town hall.

Public hearings on both proposals opened on Feb. 22. Signature Contracting Group LLC of Westport is seeking site plan approval for 52 apartment units in three buildings on a 3.7-acre parcel that would combine properties at 21, 27, and 29 Plains Road. The parcel at 21 Plains Rd. was the site of the former Iron Chef restaurant, and was previously the location of a bowling alley and the Essex Junction restaurant and movie theatre. Now owned by Treuhold Essex LLC of Scarsdale, N.Y. it has been vacant for about nine years. The properties at 27 and 29 Plains Rd. are residential properties owned by the local Costa family.

The plans for the Essex Station Luxury Apartments call for 52 units in three buildings, including two buildings with three floors and one two-story structure. Thirty percent of the units, or16 units, would be designated as moderate income housing under state statute 8-30g, which was adopted more than a decade ago to promote low and moderate income housing in Connecticut. The maximum rent for these units would be about $1,800 per month.

Because the site plan review application is filed as a proposed 8-30g project, the commission faces some limits on its authority to reject or demand major changes in the plans. Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Budrow said the panel has been advised by legal counsel that it could only reject the project for reasons directly related to safety and public health. Budrow said the plans drew a generally mild reaction at the Feb. 22 hearing , with “questions but not a lot of vocal opposition.”

The Cumberland Farms project calls for demolition of the 1,800-square-foot existing store that opened in the 1990s, replacing it with a 4,200-square-foot store with three gasoline pump islands, one more than the two currently on site. The pumping stations would be under a 24-foot by 55-foot canopy. The plan drew some objections at the Feb. 22 hearing, mostly focused on traffic flow and the size of the canopy.

Budrow said legal timelines require the commission to close the public hearing on the Plains Rd. apartment complex, and vote on the application Monday, unless the applicant approves an extension that would push the deadline for a decision to April 18. He said the panel also faces an April deadline for action on the Cumberland Farms project.

Another public hearing on a new application scheduled to open Monday is for a proposed take-out pizza shop in a section of the former Ivoryton Store building at 104 Main St. in the Ivoryton section. The applicant is Paul Cappazone.

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