Traffic concerns aired over proposed farm stand site

Whitney Miller-Caporaso, above, and her husband Christopher Caporaso are applying for two special permits to have a farm stand on their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) on Straitsville Road. The Planning and Zoning Commission issued a cease-and-desist order issued by for the couple to stop selling produce from their CSA last year, a decision upheld by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The couple is appealing the ZBA’s decision in court. -FILE PHOTO

PROSPECT — Traffic coming out of a proposed parking lot on Straitsville Road near Porter Hill Road would be dangerous, according to opponents of a proposed farm stand in Prospect.

The traffic issue was raised during the third public hearing, Jan. 20, on two special permits for a farm stand at 176 Straitsville Road.

Tony Cretella of Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Services testified that the line of sight from the proposed parking lot was 125 feet coming north, less than the 200 feet required in zoning regulations. If drivers drive the speed limit of 30 miles per hour, he said they would have time to stop before hitting a driver coming out of the lot. However, he said if drivers exceed the limit by five miles per hour, they would not have time to stop before colliding into someone pulling out of the driveway, he said.

“I think that upper driveway … is an accident waiting to happen,” Cretella said.

Maps provided by the owner of the 1.7 acre property, Whitney Caporaso, showed an over-200-foot line of sight from her driveway.

The proposed stand would be inside and existing barn, with parking outside for five cars, with additional parking further down the hill.

Much of the discussion from the Planning and Zoning Commission focused on the adequacy of that and other maps Caporaso has provided of the site.

“This is a really unacceptable drawing as far as I’m concerned,” said commissioner Jack Crumb.

Caporaso protested that she was doing the best job she could in providing the information the commission requested.

“This is really a lot of time and energy spent to put a few vegetables on a table,” she said.

Caporaso’s neighbors on Porter Hill Road have opposed the community supported agriculture (CSA) since the commission granted a special permit for the commercial farm and greenhouses in 2008. Caporaso originally planned to grow flowers to sell wholesale to a local retailer, but after that fell through, she started the CSA wherein she pre-sold shares of the crops to members each season. About 30 CSA members picked up their share of produce from the farm once a week.

In October, the Zoning Board of Appeals ruled that Caporaso and her husband were in violation of that special permit, which states no direct retail sales to the general public are allowed on the property.

The Caporasos have filed an appeal of that decision at Waterbury Superior Court, arguing that their CSA does not qualify as retail operation. That appeal is pending, but the Caporasos have indicated that they would drop the court appeal if the commission grants two special permits for the farm stand. The first permit would allow the farm stand and the second would amend the original special permit to reflect the current conditions of the CSA.

The commission has 65 days after the close of the public hearing Jan. 20 to render a decision.