November 30, 2021

Organon Market to Close for Remodelling – Permit Application to Chester P & Z

Organon Market located at 154 Main Street, Chester

Organon Market located at 154 Main Street, Chester

CHESTER— The Organon Market on Route 154 will close for remodeling on Aug. 11, with its reopening depending on the approval of a revised special permit application from the planning and zoning commission.

Market owner Peter Kehayias said Thursday he hopes the closing will be only temporary, giving him time to pursue an amended special permit application with the commission while also seeking advice and possibly other assistance from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. But Kehayias also acknowledged the market at 56 Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154, would probably never reopen if the commission does not approve some revisions to conditions the panel imposed when it approved a special permit for the market in September 2011.

“The market should be allowed to run as a market,” Kehayias said, adding I can’t run a business and be looking over my shoulder all of the time.” Kehayias said he is prepared to reopen the market later this year “but certain things have to fall in to place.”
During the remodeling, Kehayias plans to submit a new application to the planning and zoning commission requesting changes to some of the conditions to the original special permit that was approved by the panel in September 2011. Kehayias said limited seating for customers and some easing to restrictions on signage are needed for the market to continue in operation. “”All of my customers are asking for seating,” he said, while adding the limits on signage prevent him from highlighting sales and specials that could attract additional customers.

The market has generated strong opposition from some nearby property owners since it was first proposed in 2010. The nearby residents contend the market represents an improper expansion of a pre-existing, non-conforming commercial use in the surrounding residential zone, with some also claiming Kehayias hopes to expand the market in to a full-service restaurant. The building at 56 Middlesex Avenue was formerly a gasoline station, and most recently a bicycle repair shop, but had been vacant for several years before the market opened in July 2012.

The group of nearby residents opposed the market during the initial public hearings in 2011, and also objected to an effort by Kehayias earlier this year to amend the special permit. Kehayias had requested amending the permit to allow up to 12 chairs or two benches inside the market for customers.

While the requested revision drew support from some residents at a March public hearing, a divided planning and zoning commission denied the requested amendment on a 5-4 vote in April. Kehayias is an elected member of the commission, but has recused himself from participating in the panel’s review of his own business.

In the latest development, a letter of complaint from six residents led Zoning Enforcement Officer Judy Brown to issue a cease and desist order to Keyhayias last month. Brown said this week the cease and desist order focused on exterior issues, including the location of trash containers, signage, and lighting.

Kehayias said he hopes the application for permit revisions can be considered by the commission at a public hearing this fall, possibly in October. Kehayias said his employees, including six full-time workers and six part-time workers, would be laid off during what he hopes is a temporary closing.