January 29, 2023

Chester Organic Market Proposal Withdrawn

CHESTER— A special permit application for an organic foods market in a vacant building at 56 Middlesex Avenue has been withdrawn after the -planning and zoning commission determined that inclusion of plans for a 24-seat cafe area would represent an illegal expansion of a non-conforming use.

Local resident Peter Kehayias withdrew the application soon after the start of a public hearing on Sept. 9. Kehayias had proposed a market that would sell “locally grown organic produce and specialty food items.”

The market would be located in a 4,800 square-foot building at 56 Middlesex Avenue (also known as Route 154) that has been vacant for about two years. The building, located in a residential zone, had previously housed a garage, and most recently marine and bycycle repair shops.

Commission Chairman Michael Joplin advised Kehayias soon after the start of the puiblic hearing that inclusion of plans for a cafe-style seating area where patrons could consume sandwiches and other items purchased at the market could represent an expansion of the non-conforming use that was established for the property by the former L&I Garage that opened in the 1930s, before the adoption of local zoning regulartions.

Joplin noted the previous commercial uses of the structure had sold services and some commodities, but did not include sale of food items for on-site consumption. Joplin urged Kehayias to submit a new application for a basic retail market for sale of produce and other food items, with no on-site seating for patrons. Kehayias withdrew the application before the hearing was opened for comments from the public.