Hearing for 9-15 Albany Turnpike continued to Feb. 16
Property owner says that "as of now, based upon what I know now" his plans are to develop a Cumberland Farms in Canton; residential housing and a restaurant in Simsbury
By John Fitts
CANTON – A public hearing for proposed earthwork and grading at 9-15 Albany Turnpike is set to continue Feb. 16.
The Canton application call for an earthwork and grading special permit for the removal of approximately 13,000 cubic yards within the town of Canton for what could “potentially” be used for an access road in the future to facilitate development on the Simsbury portion of the land, where all but 5.8 acres of the 26-acres of land are located.
(The parcels are on the town line. While many have called this the "La Trattoria" site, the land adjacent to that site).
The hearing opened on Jan. 5 and included a presentation by the development team, which asserted the application is a “first step” in developing the property, conforms with the town’s regulations and is designed to ensure the property owner has rights to access the land – particularly in light of the commission’s June 2021 denial of a development plan for an EV showroom, convenience store and fueling station at the site.
The development team also said the new plan is responsive to concerns about the significant alteration of the traprock ridge that would have come with the EV proposal.
Commission members and town staff, however, have several concerns with the application’s lack of an associated use and have raised several questions about the completeness of the application, whether: such as phased approach without a declared use complies with the regulations, is consistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development and the form-based code, and has enough information to allow the commission to fully evaluate its special permit criteria.
The hearing was continued to the evening of Jan. 19 and on that evening, the development team asked for the matter to be continued for several reasons – including a desire to have time to respond to a technical engineering review of the application done by the town’s consultant, GZA, the unavailability of the project engineer on Jan. 19, and to potentially introduce more information from a Freedom of Information Request of town records and correspondence concerning the property.
Additionally on Jan. 19, property owner Mark Greenberg expressed his desire to work with the town and conform to the issues identified by GZA. He also said he was interested in being cooperative and noted that he was willing to say what he could about development and the plans as they stand right now.
“You will have in front of you a Cumberland Farms application, which will be less intense than the previous one. Up in Simsbury we’ll be applying for the town of Simsbury for residential housing, along with a restaurant.”
At the Jan. 19 meeting, Greenberg also said no excavation would take place until more detailed plans were in place.
While some commissioners expressed appreciation of Greenberg’s comments, members also noted that uses were still not a formal part of the application.
At the beginning of the evening, commission chairman Jonathan Thiesse reviewed the GZA findings, which contend the project could not be safely constructed as designed without some modifications. The report notes issues with the Geotechnical aspects, hydrology and cost estimates. In the area of geotechnical review, for example, the report identifies issues with the proposed steepness of slopes, stability of a retaining wall, stabilization of rock face and rockfall hazard if the road is constructed as indicated.
Later commission members spent much time discussing whether they should continue the hearing, the scope of what could be discussed, the idea that any significant changes might warrant a new application, and much more.
The commission also heard from two members of the public before ultimately continuing the hearing to 7 p.m. on Feb. 16 with a limited scope of the technical review response and applicant summation. It also set a deadline of Jan. 28 for the applicant’s response to the technical review and set a fee, as suggested by Greenberg, of up to $2,000 for additional work by GZA.
As noted in previous Valley Press articles, the application has once again generated controversy and while that hasn't reached the levels of the EV application, dozens of area residents have written in opposition to the project. The Metropolitan District Commission has also expressed concern about blasting and its Route 44 water main.
Prior to the Feb. 16 meeting, area residents can find the agenda and packet at
https://townofcantonct.org/agendas-minutes-meetings. Recordings and packets from previous meetings can also be found at the site.