Hearing for EV Showroom, fueling station continued to March 17
TO BE UPDATED
By John Fitts
CANTON – The public hearing for a controversial project on the Simsbury/Canton town line has been continued to March 17.
The owners of 9-15 Albany Turnpike have proposed a 23,500-square-foot EV showroom, a 20-pump fueling station and a convenience store and eateries with a drive through and seating areas. The proposal seeks a number of special permits under Canton’s business zone regulations and the next meeting will mark the sixth installment of the hearing.
Developers have touted the proposal as the future of transportation with a showroom, service center, charging stations, gas pumps designed to convert to EV chargers and several eateries in the convenience area that they say are "higher level" than the typical gas station experience and feature a drive through and seating areas. They have also made design changes to the project along the way, stating a willingness to respond to concerns raised by the public and commission.
Opponents have raised several concerns with the project, particularly with the proposal to blast a portion of the traprock ridge on the property. Many have spoken to the aesthetic value, environmental importance and whether blasting will affect wells, community wellbeing and pose a risk of disturbing the state superfund site at 51 Albany Turnpike. Other concerns raised have included design, scale, and traffic.
While the commission does not regulate blasting itself, special permits are subject, in part, to several standards that speak to the environment, health and quality of life. The duality of economic development and the environment and community character in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development is also a consideration and developers and opponents have already referenced several parts of that document.
Opposition has intensified since the beginning of the year and the latest meeting on Feb. 17 featured testimony from experts speaking on behalf of Canton Advocates for Responsible Expansion (C.A.R.E.), which has filed a petition for intervention on behalf of the organization, which under state law allows party status for a person or entity if there is a “verified pleading asserting that the proceeding or action for judicial review 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.”
After a lengthy discussion among attorneys on the intervener process, several professionals, some of whom had spoken at a previous meeting, spoke to the issue on behalf of C.A.R.E., including one who contended that the pollution from the superfund site might be closer to the project than previously thought. While the developer has submitted new material for each meeting, opponents also contend the application is still incomplete.
The developer’s consultants did file some additional material for the latest hearing installment, but due to the length of the meeting, did not get a chance to speak at length and present their assertions on Feb. 17 and are expected to do so at the next meeting.
While some members of the public spoke at the January meeting, they also did not have a chance to speak Feb. 17 but the commission will open the floor to residents again at some point. Whether that will happen at the next meeting is to be determined as the information before the commission has gotten increasingly complex and detailed and the developer’s experts will likely take some time to answer the questions raised and present their take on comments from the last two meetings and the project, particularly the hydrogeology of the site.
Those wishing to provide comments for the record can email them to NPade@TownofCantonCT.org. While there are no hard and fast requirements, due to the volume of feedback the proposal has generated and the need to prepare packets for each meeting, sending those comments as soon as possible is always helpful. Town staff noted that sending feedback by March 11 is ideal.
This story will be updated but those who wish to watch the hearing can find it at https://townofcantonct.org/audio-pzc/?FeedID=3261. Please note the file size of approximately 2.69 GB.