NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission is looking at changing the zone of a couple areas in the borough from industrial to residential, much to the chagrin of some residents and business owners who would be impacted by the move.
The proposal would change the zone of a 12-acre parcel along Spring Street near the Waterbury line and an area between Webb Road and Rubber Avenue from an I-2 zone to a R-30 zone. The change would impact about a dozen properties in the Webb Road and Rubber Avenue area.
The commission held a public hearing on the proposed change last Wednesday night.
Zoning Enforcement Officer Steven Macary explained officials have begun looking into changing zones around the borough in order to adhere to the Plan of Conservation and Development.
If the change goes through the businesses that are currently in the two areas being looked at would be grandfathered in, but they would not be able to build additions without a special permit.
Macary said any new business that was interested in the areas could still come before the commission and apply for a planned development district change.
“They can apply for a zone change. Will we grant it? I don’t know. That’s up to the commission,” Macary said. “We’ve got to adhere to the Plan of Conservation and Development though.”
Alec Wargo, who owns property at 1056 and 1058 Rubber Ave., was not happy with the proposal.
“I’m completely against this change from I-2 to residential for my own personal properties,” Wargo said.
He said the properties he owns along Rubber Avenue are currently being used for industrial purposes and he has a building that is approximately 4,000 square-feet.
“I run a manufacturing business there. I’ve done it for about 35 years, so I’m not new,” Wargo said.
He told the commission that his business is in the midst of expanding, which it can only do if the land remains an I-2 zone.
“I don’t want to lose that,” Wargo said.
In addition to Wargo’s business, Connecticut Hydronics, a plumbing and HVAC business owned by Wargo’s son, is located on his property.
Macary told Wargo that the building’s current use as industrial would be allowed to continue even if the zone was changed.
“Your industrial building is industrial use, we’re not going to make is nonconforming,” Macary said.
However, Wargo would not be able to sell the property as an industrial property. He told the commission that going forward with this change would create hardships for him in the future.
Louis Liguori, who owns property at 1075 Rubber Ave., said that if the proposal goes through it will make it much more difficult to sell his property if he should choose to do so.
He was also concerned if his property was changed to a residential zone he would not see any kind of tax relief from the change.
“I don’t think that’s anywhere near fair to us,” Liguori said. “There isn’t any benefit to any one of us.”
Liguori asked the commission why they were doing this to the residents along Rubber Avenue. He questioned if the commission was trying to stop a project it did not want coming into that section of the borough.
“We are doing this to adhere to the Plan of Conservation and Development,” Macary said. “We did this three or four years ago across the whole entire town. We just have to conform. It’s not personal.”
Joe Preta, who lives at 1052 Rubber Ave., has run a construction company from his property for 30 years. He said changing the zone would eliminate the value of his property.
“If it gets changed to residential it becomes a house just like everyone else and I lose a lot of value,” Preta said.
Commissioner Sally Brouillet raised a concern about the proposal as well before the public hearing opened.
“I just want to be careful that we don’t lock ourselves into something then something good for Naugatuck comes along and they want to go in there,” Brouillet said. “We can’t see the future is what I’m saying.”
The hearing was kept open and will resume May 15 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall.