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August 12, 2008
TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION

Public Hearing #1534
August 12, 2008

***** Draft Document - Subject to Commission Approval *****


The Meeting was called to order by Chairman Ouellette at 7:05 P. M. in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.

ESTABLISHMENT OF QUORUM:

A quorum was established as three Regular Members (Devanney, Farmer, and Ouellette) and one Alternate Member (Matthews) was present.  Regular Member Gowdy and Alternate Members Thurz and Tyler were absent.  The Commission currently carries one vacancy for a Regular Member.  Chairman Ouellette noted Alternate Commissioner Matthews would sit in on decisions/votes this evening.  Also present was Town Planner Whitten.

ADDED AGENDA ITEMS:

Town Planner Whitten noted the addition of Stepping Stone Drive under Item V, PERFORMANCE BONDS - ACTIONS; PERMIT EXTENSIONS, ROAD ACCEPTANCE.

RECEIPT OF APPLICATIONS:        None.

LEGAL NOTICE:

The following Legal Notice, which appeared in the Journal Inquirer on Friday, August 1, 2008, and Friday, August 8, 2008, was read by Chairman Ouellette:

1)      Application of Southern Auto Sales, Inc., for Text Amendments - to allow Inventory Storage Areas in B-1, M-1, TZ5 & A-1 Zoning Districts.  Amend:  Sec. 203 Definitions; Section 402 Permitted Uses In Residential & Agricultural Districts; Sec. 402 Notes To Permitted Uses In Residential Districts, and Sec. 502 Permitted Uses In Business & Industrial Districts.  New Sec. 815 Inventory Holding Areas.

2)      Application of NRT Realty, LLC for Site Plan Approval and Special Use Permit for 140,000 sq. ft. retail facility with 33,000 sq. ft. outdoor garden center and associated parking located on the south side of Bridge Street, owned by Joseph N. Lata, Jr., Debra A. Morell, and Anthony & Dorothy M. Dimastrantonio.  [B-2 Zone; Map 1, Block 12, Lots 4, 8. 9, 10 & 11].

PERFORMANCE BONDS - ACTIONS; PERMIT EXTENSIONS; ROAD ACCEPTANCE:  Mitchell Subdivision, 96 Griffin Road - Request from Atty Wayne Christopher Gerlt for 30-day extension for the commencement of the public hearing (initial 65-day time period expires 8/28/08):

Town Planner Whitten noted this Applicant has not yet gotten approval from the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA).   They have requested a 30 day extension to open the Public Hearing.

MOTION: To APPROVE THE 30 DAY EXTENSION FOR COMMENCEMENT OF THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE APPLICATION OF MITCHELL SUBDIVISION, 96 GRIFFIN ROAD.

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

PERFORMANCE BONDS - ACTIONS; PERMIT EXTENSIONS; ROAD ACCEPTANCE:  Stepping Stone Drive:

Town Planner Whitten noted the Commission had previously approved the acceptance of Stepping Stone Drive.  When the deed was received it was noted Open Space and drainage easements were also included; those additional items must be accepted in conjunction with Stepping Stone Drive.

MOTION: To SEND A RECOMMENDATION TO THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN FOR APPROVAL OF THE OPEN SPACE A AND B AND THE EASEMENTS FOR STEPPING STONE DRIVE, ALSO KNOWN AS FAIRWAY ESTATES.

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/Unanimous

NEW HEARING:  Southern Auto Sales, Inc. - Text Amendments - to allow Inventory Storage Areas in B-2, M-1, TZ5 & A-1 zoning districts.  Amend:  Sec 203 Definitions; Section 402 Permitted Uses In Residential 7 Agricultural Districts; Sec 402 Notes to Permitted Uses In Residential Districts; and Sec. 502 Permitted Uses In Business & Industrial Districts.   New Sec. 815 Inventory Holding Areas.  (Deadline to close hearing 9/16/08):

Chairman Ouellette read the Hearing description.  Appearing to discuss this Application was Attorney T. Mark Barbieri, representing the Applicant; Don Poland, Planning Consultant; Jay Ussery and Dana Steel, of J. R. Russo & Associates.  Also available in the audience was Rick Nadeau, of Southern Auto Auction.

Chairman Ouellette noted that Town Planner Whitten had included in the Commission’s packets a memo explaining the intent of the proposed text amendment.   Town Planner Whitten noted the memo also included advisory information regarding the Commission’s

interpretation of the proposal, as allowed under Section 900.7d of the regulations, to rehear an application if the information presented is different than that previously heard.  Chairman Ouellette polled the Commissioners for their opinions; the consensus of the Commission was that new proposal includes different language which takes into consideration the comments/concerns raised by the public and the Commission at the previous hearing.

MOTION: To ACCEPT THE APPLICATION OF  Southern Auto Sales, Inc. - Text Amendments - to allow Inventory Storage Areas in B-2, M-1, TZ5 & A-1 zoning districts.  Amend:  Sec 203 Definitions; Section 402 Permitted Uses In Residential 7 Agricultural Districts; Sec 402 Notes to Permitted Uses In Residential Districts; and Sec. 502 Permitted Uses In Business & Industrial Districts.   New Sec. 815 Inventory Holding Areas to be heard tonight because a material change in the situation justifies this action.

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

Attorney Barbieri reported this Application is similar to the application previously heard but, with text changes, allows the Commission to consider the feasibility of Inventory Holding Areas throughout the whole town based on review criteria.  He noted the parcel on Phelps Road which has been the subject of considerable discussion is screened from Phelps Road with a considerable berm.  That parcel is important to the health of Southern Auto Sales (SAS) because of it’s proximity to the main parcel.  Attorney Barbieri further noted the market for auction vehicles has changed considerably since they appeared before the Commission six months ago; when people aren’t buying new cars and more used cars are going through the auction this parcel becomes more important because it’s the only parcel they have to create more Inventory Holding Area.  He indicated they understand and respect the people along Phelps Road, and acknowledged that sensitivity is important to SAS as well as the Commission.  Attorney Barbieri reported they met with Town Planner Whitten and Chairman Ouellette to discuss revised language, which has resulted in a major change in language which prohibits access to this parcel from Phelps Road.  

Mr. Poland introduced himself, noting he is a design consultant from Hartford.  He summarized the report,  noting that under Section II it defines how inventory holding areas are used and how they fit into the marketing of the pre-leased vehicles, and the section also includes change of language to allow inventory holding areas in various zones under certain stipulations.  Under Section I the report acknowledges SAS as an economic engine for East Windsor  - as one of the largest employers utilizing 174 full time, another 175 part time employees/contractors, and an additional 500 temporary employees on auction days.  Section I also identifies that the existence of SAS also creates the opportunity for other businesses to become established .  Examples would be hotels which provide 1875 room nights per year to people visiting the auction, and other automotive businesses that provide associated products, both to SAS and the community in general.  The report notes that 50% of the jobs on Route 5 directly benefit from the

existence of SAS.  Section I also acknowledges SAS as the largest taxpayer in East
Windsor.   Under Section III the current proposal has eliminated Phelps Road completely; only Route 5 and Route 140 would be applicable to Inventory Holding Areas under the Special Use Permit process.  He noted that lots in the area of Phelps Road that have access via Route 5 could be used for Inventory Holding Areas, but no access would be provided via Phelps Road.  Section 4 cites the consistency with the East Windsor Plan of Conservation and Development and the East Windsor Zoning Regulations, while Section 5 notes the Commission’s ability to approve, modify, or deny the proposal.  Section VI  cites the challenges to areas of Route 5 caused by the lack of proximity to ramps servicing Route I-91.  The report suggests that if not for the existence of SASS many of the other businesses wouldn’t exist.  

Mr. Poland addressed the question of SAS’s need for additional Inventory Holding Areas.  He cited that people often pass the existing lots which are not being used to their maximum potential, and question the need for more lots.  SAS provides auction vehicles and related businesses to many clients, including auto manufacturers, rental companies, and auto finance companies.  When vehicles come off lease they need to go through the auction process.  SAS must be able to accept and process large numbers of vehicles, often from multiple sources at the same time, and hold them in inventory holding areas until they are available for auction.  While a large number of vehicles - 3000 to 5000 - pass through auction each week often a smaller number of vehicles are auctioned over a period of several weeks.  Vehicles are also sent to auction on a seasonal cycle; from October to April SAS receives a greater number of vehicles than it does from May to September.  The seasonal fluctuation of inventory creates times when lots are less full, or sometimes completely empty, while at other times the lots are full to capacity.  In addition, the movement of the vehicles through the stages of preparation for the auction process create fluctuations in the capacity of inventory holding lots.  And, lastly, SAS must provide parking for its 800 employees on the north side of Phelps Road, and it must also provide parking for the buyers and sellers of the vehicles.  This year, with the economy in a downturn which is causing problems for the automotive industry, the demand to auction vehicles is greater.   If SAS is not able to accommodate the clients’ demands they will go elsewhere - out of state - lowering the economic benefits to East Windsor.  

Mr. Poland indicated it is also key for SAS to have land as close to the auction as possible to maximize productivity for the auction process.   As vehicles move through the various stages of the process they are moved from more far reaching lots to the auction bays.   This the reason SAS is trying to use the Phelps Road lot as it would minimize vehicles going out to main roads to access the main auction site.  

Mr. Poland referenced Section III of the revised report, which he READ FOR THE RECORD.  He  noted that item 1 has been revised to include locations on Route 5 or Route 140 which contain over a 100’ of frontage; the text amendment now eliminates Phelps Road entirely.  Any parcels in the vicinity of Phelps Road require access on Route 5 rather than Phelps Road.  Mr. Poland indicated that items 2, 3, and 4 remain the same as during the previous application.  

Chairman Ouellette requested that the Applicant reference the Conceptual Plan, indicating parcels that might apply to this text amendment, and how 161 South Main fits in with that plan.  Mr. Ussery stepped forward and indicated the Conceptual Plan is a modification of the Sewer Service Area Plan.  He referenced the following parcels that would fit within the proposal before the Commission this evening:  two B-1 zoned parcels and one TZ5 zoned parcel on Route 5, two M-1 zoned parcels in the industrial park - one being the old mushroom plant - an M-1 zoned parcel on Main Street next to the soccer bubble (Sports World), and two parcels on the north side of Route 5 towards Enfield.   Mr. Ussery indicated that parcels along Phelps Road included in the previous application have been removed from this map for the purposes of this text amendment.   Referencing a 200 scale map Mr. Ussery noted SAS owns 281+/- acres, which go out to Scantic Road.  He indicated they have incorporated Phelps Road on this plan as a separate piece, however, if this text amendment were approved they could reconfigure the parcel, leaving A-1 along the front , but adding the parcel to 161 South Main Street with access on Route 5.  Mr. Ussery noted the 161 South Main Street parcel contains substantial Conservation Easements.   He then referenced a 60 scale map which reflected the existing Inventory Holding Areas at 161 South Main Street.  Mr. Ussery indicated the Phelps Road parcel, noting the substantial berm along the front of Phelps Road; the parcel continues to the east where it borders single family properties.  The easterly end of the parcel contains substantial wetlands.  Mr. Ussery indicated they never intended development towards the single family residences, as wetlands issues limit development to the east; they would stop development at the end of the tobacco shed.   Discussion followed regarding specific parcels, and how they fit the proposal.  

Discussion turned to the Use Table, and the requirements for various uses under the specified zones - R-1, R-2, B-2, A-1, and A-2.  Commissioner Matthews questioned what the difference would be in terms of control for the Commission if the Inventory Holding Areas were allowed under Permitted Uses vs. under a Special Use Permit.   Mr. Poland indicated that a permitted use is a use-as-of-right; if the lot and the use conform to the zoning regulations the commission should approve an application.  When the Commission reviews a Site Plan they are reviewing those requirements.  Under a Special Use Permit the Commission has additional discretion to determine if a use is suitable in the area proposed; the compliance of specific criteria under a Special Use Permit puts an additional burden on the applicant to conform.  Commissioner Matthews indicated he would prefer to see the utilization of the Special Use Permit process for locations within zones B-2 and M-1 rather than as a Permitted Use as the Use Table now indicates; he felt some parcels on Route 140 might be more appropriate for commercial development.  

Commissioner Farmer questioned how the vehicles would be transported, by trucks or individually?  Mr. Ussery indicated that some vehicles arrive by trailers, which are off loaded in front of the 161 South Main Street site after being checked in by SAS security personnel.  Vehicles are then driven to the back of the site by SAS employees.  The same situation occurs at the 201 and 275 South Main Street sites. If the vehicles are not sold then they go back to their place at the rear of the site until they are brought up for auction again.  If a number of cars from the lot near Harkens Market were going to auction they

would be brought up from that lot and staged at the 161 South Main Street site prior to auction day.  The vehicles would go through the services they need and then go to their specified site waiting to be brought up front for auction.  SAS has several employees that go to a lot and put the plates on the vehicles and move them up for auction.  There are not that many cars that are run up Route 5; many of those would be vehicles owned by outside dealers.  Mr. Poland indicated this is when it’s critical to have as many vehicles on or near the 161 South Main Street site as possible.

Chairman Ouellette questioned what would be the harm of including the language proposed by Commissioner Matthews (required under Special Use Pemit in B-2 and M-1 Zones) in the proposed amendment; it would be another layer of control.  Mr. Poland indicated it is not required presently; if it were required of SAS then it would be required of any other auto uses in the community.  Mr. Poland felt that from a planning perspective the Commission would want as many of the auto uses to be permitted as possible.  He gave as an example Majestri Auto which received approval under the Site Plan process rather than the Special Use Permit process, which is longer, and puts more of a burden on the applicant and the Commission.   Mr. Ussery recalled a recent Site Plan Approval granted for the location of the old Mobil Station near the intersection of Main Street and Route 5.  Discussion continued for some time regarding the particulars of both processes, the current permitted auto uses vs. requiring the Special Use Permit process for Inventory Holding Areas only, and current traffic conditions along Route 5 - whether caused by SAS or other entities.  

Chairman Ouellette opened discussion to the audience:

Frank Giordano:  felt that from the extensive presentation the Applicant has made they want to keep cars moving on their property; he felt this proposal makes good business sense.  

Attorney Barbieri indicated they have presented everything they could think of regarding this proposal.   They understand the health and safety issues, and want to get along with their neighbors.  Mr. Poland indicated that at the previous Hearing discussion was shut down when the questions on Phelps Road came up; he requested if the Commission wants to discuss requiring the Special Use Permit process on the Inventory Holding Areas that it be done prior to closing this Hearing.  Attorney Barbieri requested that the records of the May 22nd Public Hearing be made a part of this record as well.

Chairman Ouellette questioned that if the Use Table were changed to require a Special Use Permit under zones B-2 and M-1 did any Commissioners have any other concerns?  Commissioner Matthews indicated he is sympathetic to this business; it’s a good business for East Windsor and generates many other businesses.  His concern is the public’s interest in not creating huge parking lots without the proper landscaping and screening, and SAS does a good job on that.  Chairman Ouellette cautioned that while this applicant does that what about others?  Commissioner Devanney felt if the changes were made in


the table for B-2 and M-1 Zones it would be keeping the cars on the site, which is the best
for the town.  

Chairman Ouellette queried the audience for additional comments; no one requested to speak.   The Commissioners raised no additional concerns.

Town Planner Whitten summarized the changes of language required to revise the proposal.  She also noted she had received a referral back from CRCOG indicating no conflicts.  

MOTION: To CLOSE THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE APPLICATION OF Southern Auto Sales, Inc. - Text Amendments - to allow Inventory Storage Areas in B-2, M-1, TZ5 & A-1 zoning districts.  Amend:  Sec 203 Definitions; Section 402 Permitted Uses In Residential 7 Agricultural Districts; Sec 402 Notes to Permitted Uses In Residential Districts; and Sec. 502 Permitted Uses In Business & Industrial Districts.   New Sec. 815 Inventory Holding Areas.

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

MOTION TO APPROVE the Application of Southern Auto Sales, Inc., requesting a text amendment to allow Inventory Storage Area in B-2, M-1, TZ-5 & A-1 zoning districts. Amendments would be to  Sec 203 Definitions; Sec 402 Permitted Uses In Residential and Agricultural Districts; Sec 402 Notes to Permitted Uses In Residential Districts; and Sec 502, UNDER THE SPECIAL USE PERMIT PROCESS Permitted Uses in Business (B-2) & Industrial (M-1) Districts, AND, AMENDING FOOTNOTE 7 TO READ: “WHEN INVENTORY HOLDING AREAS REQUIRE A SPECIAL USE PERMIT, THE BULK AND AREA REQUIREMENTS OF SECTION 815 APPLY., New Section 815 – Inventory Holding Areas.

The proposed change shall become effective once filed in the land records.  

Conditions:

1.      A copy of the final motion and text amendment shall be filed in the Office of the Town Clerk on the effective date by the applicant.  Said amendment shall bear the signatures of the Chairman and Secretary of the Commission, and the approval and effective date of the amendment.  

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

REASONS FOR GRANTING APPROVAL:  Chairman Ouellette voted in favor of the proposal because the reasons stated in the planning report were good and allow flexibility for this site as wells as other sites; this is a good compromise.  Commissioner Devanney indicated the Applicant changed the document to fit what was discussed the last time, and this proposal opens up more areas in town for use.  Commissioner Farmer felt this

proposal allows these people and others to expand, and the proposal gives the Commission control over expanded use throughout town.  Commissioner Matthews reported he supported the proposed plan as it allows this type of business in town to expand as they need, as well as allowing the public to participate in the approval process.

MOTION: TO TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK.

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

The Commission RECESSED at 8:22 p.m. and RECONVENED at 8:32 p.m.

NEW HEARING:  NRT Realty, LLC - Site Plan Approval and Special Use Permit for 140,000 sq. ft. retail facility with 33,000 sq. ft. outdoor garden center and associated parking located on the south side of Bridge Street, owned by Joseph N. Lata, Jr., Debra A. Morell and Anthony & Dorothy M. Dimastrantonio.  [B-2 Zone; Map 1, Block 12, Lots 4, 8. 9, 10 & 11].  (Deadline to close hearing 9/16/08):

Chairman Ouellette read the Hearing description.  Appearing to discuss this Application was Attorney T. Mark Barbieri, representing NRT Realty, LLC; Robert Trigg, president of NRT Realty; Don Poland, Planning Consultant; Scott Hesketh, Traffic Engineer; and Jay Ussery and Dana Steel, of J. R. Russo & Associates.   Also present were Joseph Lata, and his wife, owners of Lot #9, and their Attorney, Paul Smith; Tony Dimanstrantonio, owner of Lot #12, and his Attorney, Louis Flynn.   Debra Morell, owner of Lot #10 was not present.

Attorney Barbieri described the location of the property as being on the south side of Bridge Street, between I-91 and Main Street.   The parcel contains 30+/- acres.  They are submitting a Site Plan proposal for a big box retail store.   Attorney Barbieri noted they have previously received approval for a Zone Change, and have received approval from the Inland/Wetlands Commission.  

Mr. Ussery gave a more detailed description of the property, noting various streets and properties bordering the parcel.   Mr. Ussery noted that in response to the current regulation requirements they are providing at a minimum a 100’ landscape buffer - and sometimes more -  between residential and business properties.  With regard to the visible profile of the property, if you were looking east from Scott Avenue towards the building they are screening the area so residents won’t be able to see the building, although they will be able to see some of the development.  

Mr. Ussery noted the center of the property is a hill; drainage will be going west and south and east, and a small amount to the north towards Bridge Street.  They are providing water quality basins and detention basins within the drainage system to handle the peak flow from the building and parking lot.   Mr. Ussery indicated that the regulations require a number of parking spaces calculated on the square footage of the building; they are presently showing 634 parking spaces although the regulation

requirements would call for more spaces.   He reported that big box retailers have indicated they don’t need that many parking spaces.  They have looked at 5 other stores in 5 other towns with similar uses, and will share that information during the presentation.  Based on that information they are proposing more than enough parking.  Mr. Ussery noted the site is presently served by sanitary sewer; they have an application pending with the WPCA.  The site is also served by gas, city water, electricity, and cable tv.  They have received approval from the Inland/Wetlands Commission.  Mr. Ussery indicated that most of the property has been in an agricultural use by the Lata family for many years; the site will not require much clearing.

Mr. Steel referenced a plan layout of the site.  The proposal is for a large (140,000 square foot) retail building with outside garden center (an additional 33,000 square feet), all of which will be situated to the rear of the property.  A canopy for contractors and customers with larger cars will be included in the front of the building.  The majority of the parking spaces are in the front of the building, which pushes the building back from the road.  This layout leaves room in front of the parcel for a future building - maybe a 4,800 square foot restaurant; additional parking for this future building will be provided on the side of the site.  The parking in front will be enhanced with landscaping islands with plantings within the islands, and canopy trees are proposed along the perimeter of the site.  The 100’ buffer will also include evergreen plantings.  Mr. Steel noted the regulations call for 5 parking spaces/1,000 square feet of building, but the regulations give the Commission the flexibility to review if that many parking spaces are necessary.  The trend has been to minimize impervious coverage where possible; Mr. Steel indicated they would like the Commission to consider that possibility.  Mr. Steel submitted a parking analysis of several similar uses already operating in 5 other towns.  The analysis includes building size and ratio of parking spaces per 1,000 square foot of building area, and in some cases including the square footage of garden centers.  The buildings compared were Lowe’s or Home Depot stores, including those in Manchester and Enfield.  As an example Mr. Steel noted the Home Depot in Manchester contains 105,380 square feet for the main building; that building area (footprint) is increased to 122, 866 square feet with the addition of the garden center.  The Manchester Home Depot facility is providing 440 parking spaces for a ratio of 4.2/1000 square feet based on the building area alone, or a ratio of 3.6/1000 square feet including the garden center square footage.  As a comparison the Lowe’s in Manchester contains 147,976 square feet for the main building; that building area (footprint) is increased to 184,112 square feet with the addition of the garden center square footage.  The Manchester Lowes facility is providing 668 parking spaces for a ratio of 4.5/1000 square feet based on building coverage alone, or a ratio of 3.6/1000 square feet including the garden center.  Mr. Steel reviewed the amount of parking provided at the other facilities but noted they had not had time to acquire the building and/or garden center square footage; they will provide that information at the next meeting.  He suggested they are trying to demonstrate that there is a pattern and reason for providing less than 700 parking spaces, however, if 700 is the number determined to be required there is space on this site for the additional parking spaces to be installed in the back.  Mr. Steel reiterated he didn’t believe that many spaces are necessary; they will add additional impervious area which will cause more run off.  
He also noted that 88 spaces of deferred parking for a future building would bring the number of parking spaces on site to 772.  

Mr. Steel reported the main access for customers and employees of Lowe’s and the tenant, and delivery vehicles will be via Bridge Street.  They are showing a loading dock and staging area in the rear of the building with landscaping to buffer the view.  He reported he spoke with the Fire Marshal who has requested a secondary access - for emergency vehicles only - be provided off Spring Street.   The location shown on the plans is the only area feasible because the grade of the topography rises steeply beyond that point.  The road would be paved to facilitate plowing; the Town Planner has requested that they consider pavers - concrete blocks with holes like a honeycomb which are filled with soil and seeded - rather than blacktop.   Mr. Steel indicated the design shown on the Conceptual Plan is for emergency access specifically and can support heavy trucks.  They are showing the initial area on the plans, which is a steep grade 85’ from Spring Street, as pavement; where that ends they will use the pervious pavers if it’s acceptable to the Fire Department.   Mr. Steel indicated the residents of Spring Street, etc. are concerned that the secondary access will be used by customers; he noted the access will be gated and will be used exclusively for emergency access.  The tenant will be responsible for plowing, which should be doable as the area proposed is flat.  Mr. Steel reported the Fire Department requested the addition of an additional fire hydrant close to the service connection on the building; they have moved the hydrant near the southwest corner of the site closer to the building.   

Regarding the resident’s perspective of the view to the west, there will be evergreen (white pine because they grow quickly) plantings to screen the view.  Mr. Steel submitted a section of the site looking from Maple Street up toward the building, noting the pink line is the line of sight for someone of a height of 6’ standing at the property line.  With 5’ to 6’ plantings they would be   able to see over them at the first planting but at 5 years they expect the trees to be 15’ to 18’ in height, which will completely obstruct the building from the residents’ sight.  The plans also show a building constructed at a height of 30’, with a 15’ retaining wall.   Mr. Steel felt that the because of the location of the retaining wall the building shouldn’t be visible.  He felt that the landscaping plantings in this area would be effective to provide visual screening. The detention basin is depressed, and wouldn’t be seen.   Mr. Steel advised the Commission the plans also show 15’ lighting poles throughout the site.

Chairman Ouellette questioned Mr. Steel if the plans included a detail of the retaining wall?   Mr. Steel indicated the details hadn’t been provided in this plan set.  Chairman Ouellette questioned if it was Mr. Steel’s opinion that from this distance, and at the maximum height of the white pines, the retaining wall wouldn’t be visible?   Mr. Steel replied affirmatively, noting the retaining wall is proposed to be constructed of modular block in earth colors which should blend in with the site.  He indicated it’s a generic specification retaining wall which requires a professional engineer’s stamp on the design, and the manufacturer provides the design requirements.  There will also be a fence and guard rail at the top of the wall.  Town Planner Whitten questioned if this would be a terraced wall?  Mr. Steel indicated it was not, but terracing was an option they would consider.  They feel the screening proposed below the wall is sufficient but they would also consider additional plantings, or vegetation that would hang over the top of the wall; they are looking to the Commission for direction.  Attorney Barbieri suggested there is a tremendous amount of natural vegetation along Main Street and Spring Street now.  Town Planer Whitten suggested there is some concern that the white pines proposed won’t do well because this area is wet; this will be next to the detention pond.  She noted alternative species won’t grow as fast.  

Mr. Steel  indicated there are three areas of drainage flow, which he described on the plans; one area drains towards the farm pond in the back, another area drains towards Bridge Street, and another area drains towards Blue Ditch on the westerly boundary.   All water from the parking lot will be captured and treated and contained, so the water flowing towards Bridge Street will be reduced.    A drainage outlet from the State system on Route 140 brings flow from the north into the Blue Ditch passing under a private driveway on Holcomb Terrace and eventually out to the Connecticut River.  The Blue Ditch is extremely flat; water sits in the ditch until it rises to an elevation to be able to make its way in a southerly direction.  The Blue Ditch is in a 100 year floodplain; it floods from the Connecticut River; it will flood unless levees are built.  The culverts at Spring Street and Holcomb Terrace are Town culverts, and are silted in because the ditch doesn’t have the hydrologic capacity to move the water to the Connecticut River.  Mr. Steel reported the Town wants to do something about that situation; this Applicant has indicated to the Town that in an effort to improve the existing conditions downstream he will provide the funding to replace the existing culverts with larger culverts which will reduce the restriction of the water.  The town has already gotten a Wetlands Permit for that work.  The Applicant is providing the funding to demonstrate he is doing what he can to improve those conditions.  Attorney Barbieri clarified that the existing problem in the area of Spring Street and Holcomb Terrace is a Town problem, and renovations have been on the drawing board for some time; the Applicant is not adding to the existing problem.  Mr. Steel indicated the replacement of the culverts would be a benefit to everyone; the overall intent is to convey the water from this area to the Connecticut River.  It isn’t the intent of the Town to block the flow, or restrict it, but to allow the water to freely flow under the road.  

Commissioner Farmer questioned if this would be letting water from the Connecticut River into this area?  Mr. Steel noted the flow goes in both directions; at a 100 year flood the Connecticut River backs up into, and fills up, this area.  All properties in this area are in the flood plain; by providing this design it will allow the water to flow where it should, but it’s difficult to keep the culverts clean.   They are proposing 7’ wide box structures which will significantly increase the flow.  During flood conditions water flows uphill, but the whole area is in the flood plain.   Commissioner Farmer noted there is a culvert at the private driveway.  Mr. Steel indicated it’s a 36” diameter culvert, and the watershed is larger as it takes run off from the farm pond, the theater property, the highway, and Walmarts.  Because of the nature of the time it takes the water to come through the water from this area (the area of Blue Ditch) will not be impacting on that peak flow (the flow from the watershed above); their flow (from the Blue Ditch) will be gone before the water from that watershed hits.  Mr. Steel clarified that the culvert under the private driveway is a private culvert; the design he is speaking of is for the Town culverts.

Mr. Steel returned to discussion of the drainage system for the proposed Application.  He noted the system provides 3 wet ponds for the purpose of stormwater detention to reduce peak discharge from the site, and to provide water quality treatment.  He described the various ponds and the specifics of their construction, depth of the ponds relative to their storage capacity,  and discharge capacity prior to and after construction of the ponds.  Mr. Steel suggested the wet ponds are one of the best treatments for dealing with soluble pollutants.  Mr. Steel noted the plans include a maintenance schedule, which allows access to the ponds for twice yearly mowing, and removal of accumulated sedimentation.  The plans also include a two phase Erosion Control and Construction narrative; the basins will be constructed first to function as sedimentation basins during construction.  The Wetlands Commission has asked for professional inspections of the erosion controls, with logs provided to the Town during construction.

Mr. Steel reported they are proposing 12’ light poles set on 3’ concrete blocks; lighting is provided via full cut off fixtures.  Because of the difference in topography the poles are set back at least 100’, and more in some areas, from the property lines so the lights will not be shining down into the residences.  

The Commission paused to take a break in the Hearing presentation.

MOTION: TO TAKE A FIVE MINUTE BREAK.

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

The Commission RECESSES at 9:40  p. m. and RECONVENED at 9:49 p.m.     

The presentation continued with Scott Hesketh, of H. A. Hesketh & Associates, author of the traffic study for this project.  Mr. Hesketh described the project, which would include the large retail store and a 4,800 square foot free-standing building to the front; both facilities would be accessed via Bridge Street.  At the proposed access Bridge Street is a paved road 28’ to 36’ in width comprised of a single travel lane in each direction from I-91 to the Connecticut River.  The sightline at the access drive is level in both directions until it begins to slope downward towards Main Street, where it levels out again towards Water Street and Route 159 in Windsor Locks.  

To develop the traffic count Mr. Hesketh reported they installed an automatic traffic volume counter near the site driveway east of Gardner Street during a 7 day period in September/October 2007.  The results of that study found Bridge Street averages a daily volume of 11,000+ vehicles, with a peak afternoon count (5:00 p.m.) of 1021 vehicles (523 eastbound and 498 westbound) on a Thursday, and a peak morning (11:00 a.m.) count of 955 vehicles (518 eastbound and 437 eastbound) on a Saturday.   Mr. Hesketh
reported they also did manual traffic counts at the various intersections in the vicinity of the proposed project.  He also noted they have increased those counts by 1% per year to provide figures projected out to 2010 which is the anticipated completion year of the project.  

Mr. Hesketh reported they have also provided information for trip generation using information regarding trip generation rates for home improvement stores as required by ConnDOT, and trip generation rates for high turnover restaurants.  A 173,000 square foot home improvement store, such as Lowes, is anticipated to generate a total peak p.m. hour rate of 635 trips (298 entering the site and 337 exiting the site) during the week, and a peak hour rate of 908 trips (418 entering and 490 exiting the site) on a peak Saturday hour.  In addition, based on rates provided  by the ITE (Institute of Transportation Engineers) the 4,800 square foot restaurant would generate an additional 52 vehicle trips during the p.m. peak hour (32 entering and 20 exiting the restaurant area), and an additional 96 trips (50 entering and 36 exiting the restaurant area) during a peak Saturday hour.  Therefore, the trip generation of the combined uses of the site is anticipated to be a total of 687 (350 entering and 300+ exiting the site) vehicles in the peak p. m. weekday hour, and an anticipated total of 1004 (478 entering and 526 exiting the site) peak Saturday hour.  

Mr. Hesketh reported the site can anticipate a level of pass-by traffic, which he defined as vehicles already on the road within existing traffic which would enter, then exit the facility.  Based on ConnDOT restrictions of 10% of the traffic on the adjacent roadway they anticipate the amount of passby traffic to be 102 trips during the peak p.m. hour and 96 trips during the Saturday peak hour.  

Regarding the distribution of traffic Mr. Hesketh indicated the estimated site traffic was applied to the existing traffic pattern within the adjacent roadways.  They anticipate 80% of the traffic will head to the highway and Route 5, while 20% will be directed to Route 159 and Windsor Locks.  They also anticipate a larger volume of left hand turn traffic into the site.

Mr. Hesketh then addressed the Level of Service anticipated for various intersections in the vicinity of the proposed project.  He indicated the Level of Service at all intersections - after construction - would be a Level of Service D, or better, with less than 50 seconds/per vehicle delay at peak hours and Saturday.  

Regarding the storage levels of queues for roadways within the proximity of the site drive Mr. Hesketh indicated that they plan to provided a westbound left turn lane into the site, and a 2 lane access drive.  There is a sight distance in excess of 500’ to the east; a similar distance can be achieved towards the west by regrading on the south side of Route 140.  They will also remove the existing retaining walls, and constructing new retaining walls within the right-of-way.  

Commissioner Matthews questioned how many cars will be queuing for a left hand turn?  

Mr. Hesketh suggested 12 vehicles.   He indicated they have been in discussions with the State of Connecticut which operates the Children’s Place; they will give easements to allow the left turn lane to be built.  

Chairman Ouellette questioned what assumptions were made to determine the distribution of traffic?   Mr. Hesketh suggested they feel the majority of the traffic would come in via I-91; the people from this side of town probably would be passing by the site anyway.  He suggested the 20% could be 30 - 40%.  Chairman Ouellette felt that more people will be coming from the west to Route 140.  If people got on Route 5 south of Main Street it’s a far different route to continue up Route 5; it’s easier to go up Main Street.  If someone started at Pasco’s they would go through 6 traffic lights; it’s shorter to go up Main Street with one traffic light.  Chairman Ouellette indicated he was concerned that the traffic report showed nothing coming north on Main Street.  Chairman Ouellette cited that along the route studied at the intersections at Bridge Street and I-91 the back up going eastbound is nearly all the way back to your site driveway.  Every private drive will be blocked during peak hours.  Mr. Hesketh indicated they have done the analysis on the road with the traffic on it.  He agrees there is the potential for queuing as Chairman Ouellette suggested.   Mr. Hesketh indicated he felt that’s the way it happens today, but he will review the numbers again.    Commissioner Farmer questioned if they were sure the traffic wouldn’t back up and block the Fire Department?   Mr. Hesketh suggested there is 460’ of queuing distance, and the Fire Department is beyond that distance.    Town Planner Whitten questioned if the study considered the truck traffic carried on that road; she indicated there are semis and others that would be part of the queuing.  Mr. Hesketh indicated he sat in the parking lot across the street from the site tonight but didn’t notice a large volume of truck traffic.  Town Planner Whitten indicated she is concerned with the volume of truck traffic.  There is the volume reduction facility in the vicinity already; those trucks go to the railroad.   Attorney Barbieri noted the volume reduction facility traffic is generated from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Mr. Hesketh reported he will review the truck traffic again.  

Chairman Ouellette provided Mr. Hesketh with a list of his concerns regarding traffic issues which he would like Mr. Hesketh to address for the next meeting.   Those concerns included:  1)  the numbers reported for trip generation relative to a Lowes - did it include traffic counts relative to use of the garden center as well as the main facility, how do those number compare to a Home Depot?  2)  noting that the traffic signals at the different locations near the proposed site operate on different cycles - how those differing cycles will affect traffic?  3)  noting an acknowledgment that Gardner Street will be blocked by eastbound traffic during peak hours - a recommendation has been made to consider a right-turn lane be constructed to minimize that queuing problem.  4)  noting that long eastbound queues - nearly back to the site driveway - are expected to occur at the southbound I-91 ramp - a recommendation is made to consider an additional eastbound through lane.  

Chairman Ouellette opened discussion to the audience.

Louis Flynn of 17 Spring Street:  reported he is speaking for/representing Tony Dimastrantonio, and speaking for himself as well.  Attorney Flynn urged the Commission to accept the Application and approve it with adjustments.   It’s a logical transition from the center of town to the Interstate, and is a better drainage system than we have now, and if other drainage culverts are improved it’s better for the neighborhood.

Frank Giordano, recently purchased Hartfield:  felt the project is positive for the area, it will bring other people to the area, he has a slight concern regarding the traffic because big box retailers receive trucks between 4 and 6 but it is a positive for East Windsor.  

Town Planner Whitten noted the Commission has received a letter from John and Cyndi Rothwell citing concerns with Blue Ditch.

Commissioner Matthews questioned if, when widening the road near the Receiving Home/The Children’s Place, it would impact the fence?  If so, maybe the replacement could be an iron fence.  

Commissioner Devanney indicated she has concerns with the traffic issues, but understands they are working on it.  She has some additional questions on the lighting.

Chairman Ouellette questioned if the Commission had received a memo from Town Engineer Norton?  Town Planner Whitten reported Town Engineer Norton had written a memo for the Wetlands Commission; she’ll request a copy for the PZC file.

Chairman Ouellette questioned if any information had been received from the Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA)?  Town Planner Whitten reported they have preliminary approval; Kevin Leslie, of the WPCA, didn’t feel there will be any issues.

MOTION: To CONTINUE THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE APPLICATION OF NRT Realty, LLC for Site Plan Approval and Special Use Permit for 140,000 sq. ft. retail facility with 33,000 sq. ft. outdoor garden center and associated parking located on the south side of Bridge Street, owned by Joseph N. Lata, Jr., Debra A. Morell and Anthony & Dorothy M. Dimastrantonio.  The Application is continued to the Commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting on September 9, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Hall Meeting Room, 11 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT.  

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

BUSINESS MEETING/(1)  Fee Schedule:     Tabled

BUSINESS MEETING/(2) Correspondence:

Town Planner Whitten noted David Fink of Home Connecticut would like to appear before the Commission September 9th to discuss a zoning incentive program for housing development to promote more affordable housing in the State.  

BUSINESS MEETING/(3)  Staff Reports:    None

Town Planner Whitten reported the owner of 151 Main Street wants to get a beer sales license but the location is within 500’ of a school and a church.  Chairman Ouellette indicated he was not in favor of allowing that request as the Commission would have to waive the regulation for others to fairly compete.  The remainder of the Commission was in consensus with Chairman Ouellette.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES/July 22, 2008:

MOTION: To APPROVE the Minutes of Public Hearing #1533 dated July 22, 2008 as written.

Farmer moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous

SIGNING OF MYLARS/PLANS, MOTIONS:       None.

ADJOURNMENT:

MOTION: To ADJOURN this Meeting at 10:27 p.m.

Devanney moved/Matthews seconded/VOTE:  In Favor:  Unanimous



Respectfully submitted,

______________________________________________________________
Peg Hoffman, Recording Secretary, East Windsor Planning and Zoning Commission