Farmington TPZ gives green light to gas station/convenience store on Plainville Avenue
By Paul Palmer
FARMINGTON – The Town Plan and Zoning Commission has given approval to a plan to build a gas station with convenience store at 368 Plainville Ave. The new building will replace a long-closed former gas station that has been abandoned on the property.
“I will say that it’s been there forever, but I view this as an upgrade,” said Commission member Mike Walsh during the March 27 meeting at which the proposal was approved.
The station will provide both gas pumps and EV charging stations, but the number of bays proposed raised concerns with the commission. The original proposal called for a total of 10 fueling locations on 5 pumps, but after much discussion the Commission made reducing the number down to a maximum of 8 – a condition of approval.
“I’d lobby for that,” said Commissioner James Rackliffe.
“It’s a challenging parcel,” said Commissioner Scott Halstead. “What’s there is not great. I agree we need to cut down on the number of pumps.”
Previously the developer had agreed to reduce the height of the building to just under 21 feet, limit the hours of operation from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and ensure that fuel deliveries did not occur between 6 and 8 a.m. or 4 to 6 p.m. It also agreed to restrictions on the power of the outdoor lighting, and a plan to dim the lights in the evening hours and all lights will go off within one hour of closing time at what will be a Shell station.
The Plan and Zoning Commission approved the project based on the developer agreeing to these changes and a series of other conditions dealing with everything from dumpster pickup, to landscaping , fencing, and delivery times. In total there are 20 conditions being imposed on the plan that must be met to keep the approval. The building sits in a residential neighborhood at the northwest corner of Burlington Rd. and Plainville Ave, but the lot where it is located is zoned commercial.
Two other concerns raised by neighbors and Commission members were the traffic impact along an already very busy section of road and shielding people living near the gas station from noise and lights. As part of the approval process, the developer is being encouraged to work with the Connecticut DOT to deal with possible need for the construction of a left turn lane for access to and from the Plainville Avenue driveway. BB Development LLC – the owner – will also build a 30-foot berm along the west side of the property that will restrict light from escaping onto the neighboring properties. The plan also calls for a series of new tree plantings and saving existing large trees that will provide a high canopy. “People are used to not having light there,” said Commission Chair Inez St. James. “I feel it’s too big for where it’s at.”
St. James and Commission member Matt Hutvagner were the only no votes on granting the special permit with Hutvagner arguing that the proposal did not meet the standard for a special permit.