Zone change request elicits concerns from neighbors

PROSPECT — A request to change the zone of a residential property on Clark Hill Road to a business zone has elicited strong concerns from residents in the surrounding neighborhood.

Linda Ploski, who owns and resides at 114 Clark Hill Road, filed an application in February with the Planning and Zoning Commission for the zone change. The property is in the town’s gateway overlay zone, which allows for commercial uses.

The commission implemented the gateway overlay zone several years ago to promote new and existing businesses along routes 68 and 69, and to have more control over the look of any new commercial development in the zone. The zone stretches along Route 68 from the Naugatuck border to the center of town and along Route 69 from the center of town to the Waterbury line.

Ploski’s property abuts Route 68, even though the address is listed on Clark Hill Road.

Ploski said her father-in-law built the house on the 0.68-acre property at the corner of Clark Hill Road and Route 68 in 1950. Her husband, Gregory Ploski, is an alternate on the Planning and Zoning Commission and has recused himself from the matter.

Linda Ploski said the home was built before the town had zoning rules, and though she has applied for the zone change, “We’re not doing anything with it at this time.”

Residents who live in the surrounding neighborhood have expressed several concerns to the commission about changing the zone. Neighbors packed Town Hall last week to speak out against it as the commission continued the public hearing on the application.

If a business is built on the property, neighbors said it would increase traffic in an already heavily-traveled area of town and take away from the residential character of the neighborhood.

“You’re gonna make a bad situation worse,” said Richard Van Allen about the traffic along Route 68.

Neighbors also said allowing the property to be zoned for business would set a precedent for the future and could start a domino effect, which would lead to more commercial development in the area and further eat away at the residential aspect of the neighborhood.

There are numerous properties along Route 68 that are zoned as residential but fall into the gateway overlay zone, including several parcels next to or near Ploski’s home at 114 Clark Hill Road. The property at 173 Union City Road, which is diagonally across Route 68 from 114 Clark Hill Road, is already zoned for business.

“You have to take into consideration what could be done in the future,” resident Corrine Lacy told the commission.

Resident James McGrath implored the commission to “do the right thing” and deny the zone change.

Resident Anthony Dorso was the only person who addressed the commission last week to speak in favor of the change. He said the current regulations are designed for business use on the property and the application is utilizing what is allowed under the gateway overlay zone.

Land Use Inspector Mary Barton said the lot at 114 Clark Hill Road, which is 27,878 square feet, meets the minimum requirement for a business lot, which is 20,000 square feet.

Officials said even if the zone change were to be approved, any plan to build a business at 114 Clark Hill Road would have to come before the commission for review and approval.

“It does not mean you’ll get approval for whatever you want,” Barton said.

The commission closed the public hearing last week and has 65 days to make its decision on the application.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.