Commission rescinds special permit approval

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PROSPECT — The Planning and Zoning Commission voted last week to rescind its approval of a large warehouse on Union City Road.

The commission had approved the special permit for a 40,000-square-foot building at 99 Union City Road on Sept. 20 with the stipulation that the state Department of Transportation would rule as to the safety of the entrance and exit to the property. Union City Road, also known as Route 68, is a state road, and the DOT must approve projects on state roads.

That stipulation, which Chairman E. Gil Graveline Jr. added after the commission voted to approve the application, absconded the commission’s duty to find the application would not create a traffic hazard, according to attorney Jennifer Yoxall, who advises the commission on legal matters.

To approve a special permit, the commission must find that an adequate sight distance is provided, Yoxall said.

“You have to find that applicant has proved that it will not cause traffic congestion or create a hazard,” she said. “You can’t leave this determination to the state.”

She said the commission must consider expert testimony but can determine whether they believe the person giving testimony is an expert. If two experts give conflicting testimony, the commission may decide whose argument is more valid.

“We can’t just kick it down to the DOT,” Graveline said. “I tried to just bounce it to the state and a flag popped up very quickly.”

He said the commission agonized over the decision, listening to weeks of evidence, and tried to make it work.

“I don’t think we ever thought the sightline was safe,” commissioner Jack Crumb said.

The commission was allowed to rescind its approval because it had not yet published the result, Yoxall said.

After the vote to rescind the approval, the applicant, John Gallagher, withdrew the application before the commission could vote to deny it.

Waterbury Attorney Thomas Calkins, representing Gallagher, said they would take the commission’s concerns into consideration and come back with a new plan.

“The information wasn’t sufficient and needs to be answered,” Calkins said. “The concerns raised have been present throughout”

He said they would look at the options available to address the safety concerns.

Gallagher was planning to build a warehouse for his business, Industrial Storage, to store large cranes, heating and air conditioning units and other big pieces of equipment.