PROSPECT — The owner of a car dealership is seeking to amend the site plan for the business to legally allow for more cars on the lot and alleviate ongoing safety concerns.
Route 69 Auto Sales at 69 Waterbury Road has been the subject of complaints due to the number of cars at the dealership. The dealership is permitted to have 35 cars for sale on the site under a permit approved in 2006. Now, there are three to four times as many cars on the lot than permitted. Two other businesses, which no longer exist, operated on the lot during that time.
The number of cars on the site led to complaints, including customers and delivery drivers parking on Waterbury Road, or Route 69, in front of the dealership; cars being unloaded on abutting properties and on Waterbury Road; and cars parked in the state right of way, hindering sightlines.
In May, Land Use Inspector Mary Barton sent a letter to Michael Luisi, the owner of Route 69 Auto Sales, and James Juliaini, a member of JJMD LLC, which owns the 0.68-acre lot, stating the dealership is in violation of its site plan approval because there are more than 35 vehicles onsite for sale, and there isn’t a 15-foot wide access way around the building for emergency vehicles.
Attorney Alec Rimer, who represents Route 69 Auto Sales, last week presented an amended site plan the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The plan allows for the 15-foot wide access way for emergency vehicles, makes the entrances and exits one way in and one way out, and shows designated spots for employee and customer parking.
Rimer said the plan shows space for about 110 vehicles without using the state right of way and about 125 vehicles with the right of way.
The numbers are based on the square footage of available space for cars, rather than parking spots. Members of the commission raised issues with this, saying they wanted to see specific spaces shown for cars. The commission asked for revisions to the site plan to show a specific number of spaces.
Rimer said the dealership is applying to the state to lease the right of way, and is in negotiations with Mercury Fuel about leasing the property at 68 Waterbury Road for storing cars. The dealership also stores some cars at two ancillary lots in town.
The property at 68 Waterbury Road is a full-service gas station. It’s owned by Lafayette Realty Company, according to the property card. If they reach an agreement, Rimer said a new facade would be put on the building and it would no longer be a gas station.
“It would beautify the property, be directly across the street from us, and allow us to alleviate any of the overflow that we have in the lot,” Rimer said.
The commission accepted the application and had 65 days to make a decision on it.
While the commission mulls over the application, Fire Marshall Keith Griffin raised concerns that nothing has been done at the dealership regarding moving cars to allow for the 15-foot access way for emergency vehicles.
Griffin said there’s no way firefighters could safely fight a fire at the dealership without the access way. He questioned how long it’ll take to the move the cars, contending that the dealership has been just paying “lip service” to the town in response to the concerns.
Rimer took umbrage with the idea that the dealership is only paying lip service to the town and vowed the cars would be cleared from the access way by the end of this past weekend.
“I think we’ve demonstrated the efforts that we’ve made and what we’re trying to pursue to satisfy the requirements that the town has. … We want to be good partners. We want to be good neighbors,” Rimer said.