Design district gets a little larger

NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission last week unanimously approved adding another portion of South Main Street to the New Haven Road Design District.

The commission voted to change the zoning of seven parcels from the residential RA-1 designation to the New Haven Road Design District designation. The tenth of a mile section runs from the former Little Red Schoolhouse of Safety at 529 South Main St. to the former Club Comedy at 585 South Main St.

The change allows the properties to be used as commercial or residential rather than just residential.

The change was spurred by Rocco DeCarlo, owner of the former DeCarlo’s Thrifty Cleaners and Formal Wear at 535 South Main St.

DeCarlo, who closed his business at the end of 2015, told the commission he finally has an offer for the building. However, under a RA-1 designation, the building can only be used for a commercial dry cleaners, which DeCarlo’s business had approval as a non-conforming use, or changed to residential.

“The building is empty. I can’t rent it, and I am losing money on the building even with the sale,” DeCarlo said. “I haven’t been able to sell it. Unfortunately, dry cleaners are closing up.”

DeCarlo didn’t say what type of business is interested in opening at his building, but said that it was not a dry cleaners.

DeCarlo said he wasn’t sure why this section of road was turned residential and not included in the New Haven Road Design District originally because it has been a mix of residential and commercial buildings since the 1940s.

Michael Bruno, who owns the house at 547 South Main St., also told the commission that he supported the zone change.

“I am definitely in favor of this,” Bruno said.