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September 12, 2006 Minutes
TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
Planning and Zoning Commission

Public Hearing #1490
September 12, 2006


The meeting was called to order at 7:06 P. M. by  Vice Chairman Gowdy in the Meeting Room of the Town Hall, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.

ESTABLISHMENT OF QUORUM:

A quorum was established as three Regular Members (Gowdy, Ouellette and Rodrigue) and two Alternate Members (Kehoe and Matthews) were present.  Regular Members Guiliano and Saunders and Alternate Member Tyler were absent.  Vice Chairman Gowdy  noted everyone present this evening will sit in on any items of business this evening.  Also present was Town Planner Whitten, Ex-Officio Member Selectman Filipone, and Donald Poland, Planning Consultant.

ADDED AGENDA ITEMS:     None

RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS:

The receipt of the following Applications were noted by Vice Chairman Gowdy:

1.      Application of Carl Crane for Modification of Approved Special Use Permit at 118 Prospect Hill Road, owned by Crane Properties, LLC, to allow proposed forestry processing, storage and loading areas.  [M-1 Zone; Map 5, Block 17, Lot PA].

2.      Application of Mark S. Webb for Site Plan Approval to allow contractors                 storage yard, along with non-conforming residence, at 84 Newberry Road,         owned by Sophie Sitek Arnone.  [M-1 Zone; Map 16, Block 10, Lot 7].

LEGAL NOTICE:

The following Legal Notice, which appeared in the Journal Inquirer on Friday, September 1, 2006 and Friday, September 8, 2006, was read by Commissioner Ouellette:

        1)      Application of Carl Crane for Modification of Approved Special Use                      Permit at 118 Prospect Hill Road, owned by Crane Properties, LLC, to allow proposed forestry processing, storage and loading areas.  [M-1 Zone; Map 5, Block 17, Lot PA].



PERFORMANCE BONDS – ACTIONS; PERMIT EXTENSIONS:  Hemlock Court, LLC – Request for release of bonds for Brook Wood Court and Hemlock Court:

Vice Chairman Gowdy read the description of this Item of Business.

Town Planner Whitten referenced Town Engineer Norton’s memos of 9/7 and 8/3/2006 regarding resolution of request for release of bond for Brookwood Court and Hemlock Court as stated under Fax from Werner O. Kunzli dated 8/15/2006.  The Town presently holds a $14,000 Erosion Control Bond for Brookwood Court, and a $3,400 Erosion Control and $95,200 Performance Bond for Hemlock Court; total bond retention is $112,600.   Town Engineer Norton has recommended release of the $14,000 Erosion Control Bond for Brookwood Court, and the $3,400 Erosion Control Bond for Hemlock Court.  He further recommends retaining $44,600 ($18,400 Bond for Finish Course of  Pavement and $26,200 Maintenance Bond) for a Performance Bond for Hemlock Court II, which allows release of $50,600 of the Performance Bond for Hemlock Court.  Town Planner Whitten clarified that the Commission/Town is releasing $68,000 while retaining $44,600.  She noted the Applicant is aware of Town Engineer Norton’s recommendation and is ok with it.

Discussion followed regarding the administrative process for release/retention of the bond money.

MOTION: To APPROVE THE RECOMMENDATION of Town Engineer Norton as presented in his memo of 8/3/2006 which is as follows:         RELEASE Erosion Control Bond for Brookwood Court for $18,400,   RELEASE Erosion Control Bond for Hemlock Court for $3,400,      RELEASE $50,600 of the $112,600 Performance Bond for Hemlock Court and RETAIN  $44,600 ($18,400 Bond for Finish Course of       Pavement and $26,200 Maintenance Bond) for a Performance Bond   for Hemlock Court II.

Rodrigue moved/Ouellette seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

OTHER BUSINESS:  Discussion with Don Poland, Zoning Consultant, regarding Zoning Regulation Comprehensive Update:

Town Planner Whitten introduced Mr. Poland, who was a previous Planner for the Town of East Windsor, is now owner of Connecticut Planning and Development, LLC, and is Executive Director of Neighborhoods of Hartford.   Mr. Poland is assisting the Town of East Windsor as a consultant with regard to revisions to the Zoning Regulations.

Mr. Poland gave an overview of the regulation revision process, noting the Commission began the revisions (under his guidance as then Town Planner) in 2001.   Review/update/adoption of the Comprehensive Plan of Conservation and Development then took precedence; the Commission is now able to return to review/adoption of the Regulation revisions.   

Mr. Poland noted the Commission and he began the revisions by reorganizing the Zoning Regulations, which were last rewritten in 1978, into a meaningful format.  The Regulations were then reviewed chapter by chapter, definitions were refined/clarified, and newer uses were added.  Under his correspondence of 9/12/2006 Mr. Poland noted there are 9 Articles proposed for this revision.

Under Article I – Purpose and Authority, Mr. Poland noted this lays out the Commission’s process for adopting the proposed Regulation changes; most is statutory language.

Under Article II – Interpretation, Mr. Poland noted this section provides the phraseology, terms, and application of the Regulations.   Definitions were reviewed and clarified; three new definitions – Lot Area, Buildable Area (Lot), and Developable Areas (Parcels) - were added.  Mr. Poland noted he is recommending the Commission consider adding 7 new other automotive uses not previously listed in the Regulations.  

Under Article III – General Provisions, Mr. Poland noted this section pulls together all general provisions of the Regulations that are applicable to all uses and zoning districts.  This section adds a more comprehensive definition of non-conforming uses and better addresses how to deal with them.  Mr. Poland also noted the addition of a new section – Section 3.20 – Modifications to the Regulations – which will allow staff and the Commission to consider minor modifications, such as design changes for landscaping and parking lot designs.   The intent is not to circumvent the ZBA but to allow the Commission more flexibility with regard to site issues.  The modification approvals would require a Special Permit and would require passage by a 4/1 vote rather than the current 3/2 vote.  Mr. Poland suggested the modifications should mostly deal with commercial properties; subdivision modifications would be dealt with under the Subdivision Regulations.

Under Article IV – Residential Districts, Mr. Poland suggested not many changes were made to this section.  Accessory uses were more clearly defined, and a list of acceptable accessory uses was added.   He also noted that the Commission, under recommendation of Planemetrics, recently made significant improvements to the Planned Residential Development Regulations.  Mr. Poland also noted that Special Development District (which has now become Multi-Family Development District) Applications and Age-Restricted Applications really only apply under certain circumstances; he would recommend moving those Regulations out of the Residential Districts and move them into a Special Regulations Section.

Under Article V – Business and Industrial Districts, Mr. Poland noted no changes were made to the bulk and area requirements for lots, structures, and buildings but review was made with a focus as to how to make them work better.  He also reviewed accessory uses for the Business and Industrial Districts, and included standards for outdoor storage.  Mr. Poland also noted this section now includes the introduction of a provision for consolidated parcels. He suggested that over the years older strip developments, such as many along Route 5, no longer fit the needs of current development as the lots are shallow and smaller.   This provision would allow one or two lot owners to exist as they are but they could be considered as one parcel for the purpose of development.   This would allow for a reduction in the number of curb cuts, and gives flexibility to the owners and the Commission.

Under Article VI – Site Development Standards, Mr. Poland suggested this section is the most modernized of the revisions, and eliminated some confusing language.   It deals with and addresses design issues which come before the Commission with regard to commercial development – lighting, landscaping, refuse storage, some modifications to parking; signage stayed pretty much the same.

Under Article VII – Special Permits, Mr. Poland indicated that although some Special Permit situations will still have unique requirements related to a specific use, this section sets the standards and conditions that all Special Permit applications must conform to.

Under Article VIII – Special Regulations, Mr. Poland suggested this section will deal with the regulations that apply to unique uses, such as adult entertainment, alcohol, flood zones, volumn reduction facilities, etc.  

Under Article IX – Administration and Enforcement, Mr. Poland suggested this area includes the biggest changes to the Regulations other than the Site Regulations, as the current regulations were very limited in the areas of administration and enforcement.  He has set up this section in a format that 1) deals with applications to be dealt with by the Commission first, 2) deal with those permits approved by staff (zoning permits, building permits, certificates of occupancy, certificates of zoning compliance, etc.), and 3) deals with enforcement authority, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the validity of the Regulations.  

Discussion followed regarding timing for final review, provision for Public Hearing, and adoption of revisions.  Town Planner Whitten suggested a possible review of the final draft for the Commission for an October, 2006 meeting; Public Hearing to follow.

NEW HEARING:  Carl Crane – Modification of Approved Special Use Permit at 118 Prospect Hill Road, owned by Crane Properties, LLC, to allow proposed forestry processing, storage and loading areas.  [M-1 Zone; Map 5, Block 17, Lot PA].  (Deadline to close hearing 10/17/06):

Vice Chairman Gowdy read the Hearing description.    Appearing to discuss this Application was Carl Crane, owner of Crane Properties, LLC.  

Mr. Crane reported he presently performs forestry operations and produces forestry products on site; he has operated a sawmill since the 1990s.   Vice Chairman Gowdy requested clarification that Mr. Crane is already doing wood chipping?    Mr. Crane replied affirmatively.   Discussion followed regarding location of the operations; Town Planner Whitten suggested the site is buffered with landscaping and vegetation.  She felt this is a little bit of an expansion because they will be taking over more of the yard to store more materials; she felt the proposal needs a modification of the previous permit.  Vice Chairman Gowdy questioned that Mr. Crane wanted to include wood chipping in his present operations?    Mr. Crane suggested he has always done the wood chipping; he is now asking to store the chips in the location indicated on the plan.  Town Planner Whitten suggested the proposal is more of an intensification of his present operations.  Mr. Crane indicated there will be tractor trailer trucks going in and out with materials.  That’s been going on for some time as he had 10 trucks; he has recently gotten out of the business and is now renting the property.

Vice Chairman Gowdy cited his concern for increased noise.    Mr. Crane suggested he used to run a cross-country trucking business out of the property.   Vice Chairman Gowdy cited he is concerned with the wood chipping.  Mr. Crane noted they are machines similar to those run at Green Cycle.   Commissioner Ouellette questioned if there had been any complaints about the business?   Town Planner Whitten indicated she was not aware of any.  Vice Chairman Gowdy and Commissioner Ouellette cited the proximity of the business to Prospect Hill; Commissioner Ouellette felt if there were complaints about noise they would have been made by now.  

Vice Chairman Gowdy questioned if there would be a need for increased parking?   Town Planner Whitten replied negatively.   Vice Chairman Gowdy questioned if Town Engineer Norton was ok with this plan?   Town Planner Whitten noted a revised plan was submitted today but she talked with Town Engineer Norton; he said they didn’t need to make any changes to the plan.   

Vice Chairman Gowdy referenced staff comment #3 regarding removal of junk and debris must be removed; Town Planner Whitten replied affirmatively.   Mr. Crane indicated that all the debris is being scrapped.   

Commissioner Kehoe questioned that the Applicant had been stockpiling chips for a couple of years?   Mr. Crane indicated it’s been a dozen years.  Commissioner Kehoe referenced Condition #9 of the original approval motion which indicates, in part, that no stockpiling of materials can occur on site.  Mr. Crane suggested if he couldn’t stockpile materials he couldn’t be on the site; people need forestry materials.  Commissioner Kehoe felt mulch was different than wood chips.   Commissioner Rodrigue indicated he read that condition differently; the sentence begins with the wording “waste materials, such as sawdust, scrap wood, bark and related materials”.   Commissioner Kehoe questioned the related materials.   Commissioner Rodrigue felt the condition was saying they couldn’t leave the garbage products around, not that they were talking so much about the product.   He felt that once it becomes mulch then it becomes a saleable product.   Discussion continued regarding the definition of mulch; is it scrap material?  Vice Chairman Gowdy didn’t feel the stockpiling of the chips is a violation of Condition #9.    Town Planner Whitten didn’t see that condition saying they couldn’t stockpile the waste from the sawmill; it must be outside by code.  When they wood chip the bark it must be outside.  She felt they were conducting a wood processing facility now.   Mr. Crane suggested when you have a sawmill you create as much byproduct from it as possible, also from the wood clearing.  Town Planner Whitten suggested if the Commission was in favor of this proposal the conditions could be more specific; she had planned to suggest incorporating the conditions from the original approval in this current approval motion as well.  She also noted that Section 9.1.2.11 of the Zoning Regulations cites that such operations shall produce no industrial noise in excess of 40 dBa as measured from the property line; she had planned to request incorporation of that condition as well.    She noted that same decibel level was required of Manchester Methane during discussions of their proposal.  

Commissioner Rodrigue questioned the distance/location of the closest fire hydrant?  Town Planner Whitten scaled the plan and found the closest hydrant to be 100’ to the building and 180’ to the back of the stockpiles.  Mr. Crane pointed out the location of two hydrants on the plan.  

Commissioner Matthews suggested he would like a chance to walk the facility before voting on this proposal.  He would like to see if there are any buffering problems; it’s the kind of operation you wouldn’t want to see in a residential area but this is surrounded by commercial properties.  He felt tt seems you could see it from Prospect Hill Drive.  Mr. Crane noted that the way the trees are you can’t see the business.  Vice Chairman Gowdy felt it could be seen if you go in the back of Broad Brook Gardens.  Mr. Crane noted that between his operation and the residential area there is a 24 hour trucking terminal and then the rubbish company.   Commissioner Matthews felt Prospect Hill Drive was above this operation looking down.   Mr. Crane noted there are trees between them.  Commissioner Matthews suggested there would be visibility in winter.  Mr. Crane suggested that standing on the ground Prospect Hill Drive couldn’t be seen from his operation; maybe standing on a piece of large machinery you might be able to see a roof.

Bill Loos, Melrose Road, requested to speak from the audience:  suggested that with regard to the materials in all the years he has been in the fire department he can’t recall the departments ever being called to this operation.  Commissioner Kehoe noted now he wants to stockpile more material.  Mr. Crane clarified that he always had the opportunity to bring in more material.

The Commission decided to table the Application to give them an opportunity to view the site.   Mr. Crane noted they are welcome to walk around; call him so he can show you the operation.

MOTION: To TABLE the Application of Carl Crane for a Modification of Approved Special Use Permit at 118 Prospect Hill Road, owned by Crane Properties, LLC, to allow proposed forestry processing, storage and loading areas [M-1 Zone; Map 5, Block 17, Lot PA] until the next regularly scheduled meeting on September 26, 2006 at 7:00 p.m. at the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.

Ouellette moved/Rodrigue seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:   Unanimous

MOTION: TO TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK.

Rodrigue moved/Ouellette seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

The Commission RECESSED at 8:55 P. M. and RECONVENED at 9:00 P. M.

BUSINESS MEETING/(1)  Informal Discussion – Proposed hotel at 49/53 Prospect Hill Road:

Vice Chairman Gowdy read the description of this Item of Business.   Appearing to present this discussion was Tim Coon, of J. R. Russo & Associates.  Also present in the audience were business partners Atul S. Vachhani and Sunil Bhatt.

Mr. Coon initiated discussion noting they are here regarding construction of a hotel next to La Renaissance.  Two years ago a General Development Plan was approved to add a 95 room hotel north of La Renaissance; the Commission felt this was a great location for a hotel based on the fact that those people who used La Renaissance would have a place to stay for the night.  Since that time several things have changed:  1)  the original plan was for a 95 room 4 story Wingate Inn; those plans have fallen through.  2)  the owners of La Renaissance have now purchased the property which was the flower shop nearby.  3) the owners have been approached by the Bank of Western Massachusetts, and an agreement has been reached to lease 42 Prospect Hill Road.  That property is separate from La Renaissance but was to provide parking for the hotel.  There will be a Site Plan coming through for the bank.  4)  the owners of 53 Prospect Hill Drive were approached to construct a smaller scale hotel, which won’t need as much parking.   The type and size of the hotel have not yet been established.  Mr. Coon felt such a hotel would be similar to the Wingate Inn but smaller and shorter; it would be relatively the same location.   They would use the existing curb cuts off of Route 5.  Parking will be provided where the flowers shop was.

Mr. Coon indicated they are here tonight to get some indication if the Commission is still in favor of a hotel at this location, even though it will be smaller, and to discuss the issue of parking.  The Regulations require one parking space/room plus one additional parking space/employee on the largest shift. They would need 78 new spaces to accommodate a 70 room hotel.   They are looking to reduce the parking requirements because the people who would be staying at the hotel would be using La Renaissance, and would be using shared parking.  If they could have the reduced parking they would be able to have a larger landscaped area for photos, and could leave the flower shop for another rental property, and could then leave some large trees presently at that location.

Commissioner Rodrigue suggested they be prepared to have multiple plan layouts available for the Commission to review with regard to parking; he’d like to see layouts for reduced parking, or parking if they plan to build a (photo) patio, etc.  Commissioner Rodrigue also questioned if rental of the hotel rooms would be designated first for those people renting La Renaissance?  If he was having something for his family but wasn’t attending something at La Renaissance would his family members be blocked out; if that situation couldn’t be controlled them he would like to see a more complex parking arrangement.  Mr. Coon felt room rentals would be on a first come, first served basis; he didn’t know how they could be restricted.  Commissioner Rodrigue noted they have used that reasoning as the basis for the reduction in parking; Mr. Coon questioned if it would actually happen that no one staying at the hotel would be attending events at La Renaissance?  Town Planner Whitten questioned if anyone knew of other similar facility/hotel situations?   Vice Chairman Gowdy cited the Delaney House, with hotel nearby, in Holyoke, Massachusetts.  

Speaking from the audience Mr. Bhatt suggested that when events are booked people could block out a given number of rooms for those patrons, if those rooms are not rented in a specific amount of time they would then be available to the general public.  

Commissioner Ouellette queried if the situation was that if they follow the regulations  there isn’t enough room, or are you just asking if the Commission would be agreeable to reduced parking?   Mr. Coon suggested they could provide parking for a 70 room hotel, but it would be nice to keep the flower shop.   He suggested they could provide “reserved” parking.  Commissioner Ouellette questioned if they have enough available land for parking?   Mr. Coon replied for a 70 room hotel.   Commissioner Ouellette questioned if there was a possibility for a reconfiguration of the existing parking for La Renaissance?   Mr. Coon suggested they looked at that when they did the Wingate proposal; he felt that what they have is the most you will get.   Commissioner Ouellette questioned what of the area of the CL&P easement?   Mr. Coon suggested there is a steep bank down to the easement, and CL&P doesn’t like anyone raising the grade of the easement.

Vice Chairman Gowdy questioned Town Planner Whitten if she had any questions regarding accessibility of parking?   Town Planner Whitten suggested they have removed some parking, and have gained the flower shop; there shouldn’t be any issues really.   It’s only a smaller hotel.

Commissioner Ouellette suggested that if they needed parking in front of the flower shop and patrons would be staying at the hotel then those people would be walking in the driveway; they would be mixing pedestrian and vehicle movement.   If they couldn’t separate the traffic in some way then he wouldn’t like the plan.  

Vice Chairman Gowdy and Commissioners Ouellette and Rodrigue felt the proposal was worth pursuing.    Commissioner Matthews questioned if there was any anticipation that a major chain would pick up a 70 room hotel?   Mr. Bhatt replied affirmatively.  Mr. Bhatt noted they haven’t decided which chain they will choose yet; 70 to 80 rooms would be a small scale hotel, some want 80 – 90 rooms.   Different chains want different things.  Mr. Coon felt the location near the La Renaissance would make this attractive.   Commissioner Ouellette noted the Wendy’s approval included a hotel, and they couldn’t get a hotel to come in.  Mr. Coon noted that owner was in discussion with a chain for a larger hotel and that chain was bought out so the discussion were put on hold.   Then these people got approval for Wingate, and then the Wendy’s people couldn’t get anyone.

The Commission suggested the proposal was worth looking into.

BUSINESS MEETING/(2)  Correspondence:   None

BUSINESS MEETING/(3)  Staff Reports:            None

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:  July 25, 2006 and August 8, 2006:

MOTION: To APPROVE the Minutes of Public Hearing #1488 dated July 25,                   2006 and Public Hearing #1489 dated August 25, 2006 as written.

Ouellette moved/Kehoe seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

SIGNING OF MYLARS/PLANS:

*       Relocation plan for Hemlock Court II.

ADJOURNMENT:

MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 8:35 p.m.

Ouellette moved/Rodrigue seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous



Respectfully submitted,


Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary, Planning and Zoning Commission