December 7, 2022

Chester Organic Market Proposal Withdrawn

CHESTER— A special permit application for an organic foods market in a vacant building at 56 Middlesex Avenue has been withdrawn after the -planning and zoning commission determined that inclusion of plans for a 24-seat cafe area would represent an illegal expansion of a non-conforming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

Chester Planning and Zoning Sets Public Hearing on Organic Market

CHESTER— The planning and zoning commission has scheduled a public hearing, Thursday September 9, on a special permit application for an organic market in a vacant building at 56 Middlesex Avenue.

The public hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House on Liberty Street. The panel will also hold public hearings on a special permit application for a Jazzercise studio in vacant space at 3 Inspiration Lane, and a proposed two-lot resubdivision of a 16.75-acre parcel at 49 Wig Hill Road.

Local resident Peter Kehayias is the applicant for the organic market at the property owned by 56 Middlesex Avenue LLC of Cromwell. The vacant building, which most recently housed a bycycle repair shop, is located on the east side of Middlesex Avenue, also known as Route 154, directly across from the intersection with Main Street. Kehayias proposes to sell locally-grown organic produce, including meats and fish, and speciality items.

The proposed Organic Market at Chester would also have an area with “cafe-style seating for 12 to 25 customers.”  The plans call for 19 parking spaces, 17 regular spaces and two handicapped spaces.

Jazzercise currently operates in Deep River, offering classes in exercise and health-related topics. Classes would be held Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the morning, and evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with some Saturday classes. The proposed location is at 3 Inspiration Lane, in a complex owned by the Chester Group LLC.

The proposed resubdivision calls for creating a new 5.43-acre building lot from a parcel at 49 Wig Hill Road owned by Bruce and Mary Rayner. The existing house on the parcel would remain on an 11.3-acre lot. Local zoning regulations require a public hearing for resubdivisions.