Dollar General hearing extended for traffic study

A site plan drawing for a proposed Dollar General store at 14 Union City Road in Prospect. –CONTRIBUTED

PROSPECT — The Planning and Zoning Commission last week extended the public hearing on a proposed Dollar General store to get more detailed traffic information.

Garrett Homes LLC is seeking a special permit to build a 9,100-square-foot Dollar General store at 14 Union City Road, a 1-acre parcel at the corner of Old Schoolhouse Road and Union City Road.

There would be entrances and exits on Old Schoolhouse Road, a one-way street, and Union City Road, or Route 68. The access way on Union City Road will have to be approved by the state Department of Transportation since it is a state road.

The proposal was met with concerns from residents that the store would increase traffic and congestion in an area that already experiences heavy traffic at times. Those concerns persisted last week as the public hearing continued.

Chris Manning, who lives on Union City Road, said traffic in the area is already horrible.

“I don’t foresee this helping the situation whatsoever,” he said about the proposed store.

A traffic memo provided to the commission by BL Companies in Hartford estimates the store will generate about 521 daily trips on weekdays, including 50 trips during peak hours in the morning and afternoon, and 67 trips during peak hours on Saturdays.

Andy Chakraborty, a traffic engineer with BL Companies, said the number of trips was generated, in part, using studies of similar sites and stores across the country. He said about 50 percent of the estimated trips are cars that are already driving by and stop at the store to pick something up. So, he said, these cars won’t add to the traffic.

“Businesses like this, especially discount Dollar General stores, what the business model is, basically, is capturing the traffic volume that is already on the existing roadway network,” he said.

Residents questioned how traffic figures could be projected without actually doing a traffic count at the intersection.

Chakraborty told the commission a traffic study will be done to get the actual number of cars that go through the area. The commission extended the hearing to its June 21 meeting so the study could be done and submitted. The meeting starts at 7 and the hearing is scheduled to resume at 7:45 p.m.

The proposed site plan and building design, which calls for a pre-engineered metal building with a brick façade, were updated to meet requests previously made by the commission. The updates include extending a tree line and a fence completely along the rear and eastern borders of the property and adding windows to the side of the building facing Union City Road.

Aside from traffic concerns, some residents have argued a Dollar General doesn’t fit the character of the town, especially so close to downtown.

Resident Michael Dreherit said the store goes against the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. He characterized the proposal as a big box store packaged in a 9,100-sqaure-foot building.

A plan of conservation and development is a guide for how towns want to develop land in the future, but a town’s zoning regulations dictate uses allowed on a property.

The property has a home and detached garage on it now, both will have to be demolished to make way for the store. The property is in a business zone, which allows for single-family residential uses. The special permit is needed because of the size of the proposed store.

Matthew Bruton, a senior engineer with BL Companies, said the proposal complies with the town’s zoning regulations

“As for the character of the neighborhood, I believe the architecture [of the store] stands for itself,” he said.