June 29, 2022

Deep River Planning and Zoning Denies Permit for 444 Main Street Property

DEEP RIVER–– The planning and zoning commission has denied a special permit application for sale and maintenance of used construction equipment at a 444 Main Street property after the applicant declined to address issues raised by the town’s zoning enforcement officer and consulting engineer. The panel acted at a May 16 meeting after the applicant, local resident George Bartlett Jr., indicated he would not respond to the zoning enforcement officer and town engineer recommendations.

The 13,340 square-foot former industrial building on the west side of route 154, also known as Main Street, has been the subject of zoning issues over the past year since Bartlett purchased the formerly vacant structure and proposed using most of it for a used car dealership. The zoning board of appeals approved variances related to the used car dealership use last June, drawing objections from the planning and zoning commission over whether one of the variances was a use-related variance that exceeded the authority of the ZBA. The commission maintained a used car dealership was a use not permitted in the Route 154 turnpike industrial zone by a variance.

The ZBA later determined that it had only approved a dimensional variance related to road frontage requirements, leading Bartlett to file a lawsuit against the board late last year. With the lawsuit still pending, Bartlett earlier this year submitted a new special permit application for sale and maintenance of used construction equipment. He had also rented about 8,000 square-feet of the structure to a light manufacturing business.

Unlike the June 2012 ZBA public hearing, nobody spoke against the new permit application at the planning and zoning commission’s May 16 public hearing. But during and after the public hearing, Bartlett told the panel he would not comply with several recommendations from Zoning Enforcement Officer Cathie Jefferson and consulting engineer Joseph Dillon with the Chester firm Nathan Jacobson Associates. The recommendations, and potential conditions for a permit approval, included lighting, a stormwater runoff mediation plan, the location of the proposed display area for the equipment, and a landscaping plan that would include buffer plantings on the north side of the parcel that abuts a residential property.

Based on Bartlett’s comments about the outstanding issues, the commission voted unanimously to deny the special permit application “without prejudice.” He would be allowed to submit a new and revised application for the proposed used construction equipment related use.