Commission seems poised to deny latest application for 9-15 Albany Turnpike
Commission members feel application does not comply with town regulations
By John Fitts
CANTON – While it did not reach a decision Wednesday evening, the Canton Planning and Zoning Commission seems poised to deny the latest application for 9-15 Albany Turnpike.
Development on the 26-acre property, much of which is in Simsbury, has been a flashpoint of controversy in the last few years.
(As noted in other articles, the former La Trattoria restaurant - where a new restaurant is planned - is not part of this parcel).
Last year, a development team proposed - on behalf of principal property owner Mark Greenberg - an earthwork and grading plan for the export of approximately 17,659 cubic yards of material from the site – about 13,000 of which would be in the town of Canton.
The development team contended the plan was a straightforward step in the development process to secure the rights to access the property, particularly in light of the June 2021 commission denial of a proposal for an EV showroom, convenience store and fueling station at the site. While most of the acreage is in Simsbury, much of that EV development would have been in Canton. That plan involved extensive blasting of trap rock ridge and the development team contended this latest application was very responsive to concerns over that aspect and the commission's determination that the EV plan did not strike a balance of economic development and natural resource protection.
But after this latest application was filed, town staff, legal counsel and commission members raised concerns that the proposal did not meet the regulations and lacked necessary information for commissioners to properly evaluate the special permit criteria and conformity to the town’s form-based code governing the property.
While Greenberg, at a January meeting, stated that the likely scenario for the property would be a Cumberland Farms in Canton and residential housing and a restaurant in Simsbury, the application, according to his team, does not contain a formal "use."
Noting aspects such as delays in the hearing, comments by town officials and comments by commissioners, that attorney, Timothy M. Herbst of Marino, Zabel & Schellenberg, has strongly contended that the town has compromised his client's "fundamental fairness" in dealing with both applications.
The public hearing on the latest application closed Feb. 16 and on March 16 commission members begin "deliberating" on the application. While they discussed several aspects of their regulations and aspects of the proposed plan, it was clear they still felt the application was deficient in numerous ways and did not agree with the applicant's contention that the town's regulations allow such an activity to stand on its own.
Chairman Jonathan Thiesse referenced a memo by Neil Pade, the town’s director of Planning and Community Development.
"He identifies, by my count, over 90 instances of non compliance with our regulations," Thiesse said.
The commission meets again on April 20. Prior to then, Pade - with input from the town attorney - was directed to draft language detailing the position that the plan does not conform with the town's regulations. The commission would likely vote that evening since it has 65 days from the close of the hearing to render a decision.