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Canton commission closes public hearing on EV showroom, fueling station, convenience store

By John Fitts Staff Writer

CANTON – After at least seven separate evening installments and one site walk, the Canton Planning and Zoning Commission has closed a public hearing for a proposed 23,500 square foot Electric Vehicle Showroom, 20-pump fueling station and convenience store with eateries at the Canton/Simsbury town line.

The application for 9-15 Albany Turnpike seeks a number of special permits under Canton’s old business zone and while most of the 26 acres of land is in Simsbury, most of the development would be in Canton. (Simsbury has already approved the project).

The proposal has been highly controversial with opponents objecting to aspects such as the scope of the project, the gas station use, and the proposal to blast a significant portion of the trap rock ridge on the site. Opponents have said the ridgeline is aesthetically, culturally and environmentally important and contended that blasting poses a risk to area wells and of potentially mobilizing pollution caused by contamination at and around the state superfund site at 51 Albany Turnpike, the result of activities of a long-defunct chemical company at that site.

Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion filed a petition for intervention on the project, facilitated by a state law that allows party status if a project “involves conduct which has, or which is reasonably likely to have, the effect of unreasonably polluting, impairing or destroying the public trust in the air, water or other natural resources of the state.”

In addition to the application itself, the commission heard testimony in regard to the petition and whether there were feasible and prudent alternatives” for the site.

Developers, on the other hand, have billed the development as the “future of transportation” with pumps designed to convert to electric vehicle charging over time and eateries that include state vendors, seating areas, drive through and a :”higher level” of service than a typical convivence store. The development team also touted their willingness to update design elements, preserve a portion of ridgeline in Canton and incorporate suggestions made by the public, the commission and some of those suggested by C.A.R.E experts. The team also argued that the project does not pose an unreasonable risk to the environment.

The May 5 special meeting began at 7 p.m. and went to just a few minutes shy of midnight. While the commission closed the public hearing, it has not yet started its “deliberations” on the project, which will involve discussion whether C.A.R.E. met its burden on whether environmental harm is “reasonably likely” and the application itself.

The commission meets next on May 19. It has 65 days to render a decision and the vote is by simple majority.

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