By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer
NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission on Aug. 18 approved a special permit application for a new gas station and convenience store on New Haven Road that has faced staunch opposition from nearby residents.
The commission unanimously approved the application and architectural renderings for HZM Petroleum Corp., which is based in Wolcott, to build to build a 2,738-square-foot gas station and convenience store at 1198-1202-1204 New Haven Road. The gas station would be open 24 hours and have eight gas pumps, according to the application.
The site of the future gas station is a vacant, abandoned 1.6-acre lot near Planet Fitness and residential neighborhoods.
About 600 residents signed a letter and petition opposing the proposal. In the letter, residents expressed concerns that the gas station would increase traffic in an already congested area and would be a target for crime at night. About a dozen residents virtually attended last week’s meeting through Zoom.
“We ask that you do deny this special permit application,” said attorney Ken Slater, of the firm Halloran & Sage LLP, who represents four residents who live across the street from the site for the gas station.
Slater said the proposed development is a use that is not automatically permitted, and the planned convenience store is uniquely and poorly located across from residences. The proposed commercial use is not reasonable on the site, he said.
In a subsequent interview, Slater said his clients were still considering their options and he couldn’t say whether they planned to appeal the decision.
Commission Chairman Wayne Malicki said, after the meeting, there’s always questions concerning safety, including break-ins and robberies, but the commission can’t make a decision based on what might happen.
“I can’t predict what’s going to happen. One of things we’ve always looked at is the police department approves this first, and we even talked to them,” Malicki said. “They don’t look at what might happen because nobody can sit here and predict the future of exactly what’s going to happen.”
The commission approved the application with the stipulation that the developer install additional interior and exterior security cameras than what was proposed.
Malicki said he believes the new gas station will decrease traffic in the area that funnels into the only gas station in the immediate area on New Haven Road.
“I don’t think a gas station is a destination area,” Malicki said. “I mean if they’re going to put a mall, that’s a destination area. A movie theater is a destination area.”
Steven Trinkaus, an engineer working with residents opposed to the gas station, previously raised issues with the site plan and argued the project will have a negative impact on the environment from an overflow of storm-water runoff volume, which could carry pollutants. Trinkaus has expertise in low-impact development with a focus on water quality betterment and runoff volume.
In a letter to the commission, Borough Engineer Wayne Ziroli said the designs comply with the Stormwater Quality Manual and the Guidelines for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control. The site will have a treatment system in place to meet the required stormwater standards, the letter states.