Rock Formation an Issue at North Main Commercial Site

A public hearing will continue Thursday regarding a proposal to build two retail stores on a vacant 14-acre lot next to Clancy’s Funeral Home on North Main Street. Town Planner Harry Smith (pictured) said one issue concerns cutting into steep rock formations. 

The hearing before the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission began April 5, and was continued so additional information can be provided, including reports about the proposed rock slopes.

Smith said the commission and the town’s engineering department need more geotechnical information about the rock formations and the plans to cut into them. In Smith’s report, he said significant grade changes are proposed, including the creation of extensive lengths of exposed rock slope up to 37 feet high in one location, with most of the height averaging about 20 feet in other areas.  Here is the site map.

“That’s a lot of regrading and some real extreme rock cuts,” Smith said

By comparison, he said the rock slope behind Starbucks on Route 1 is about 30 to 40 feet high.

Smith said eliminating extra parking spaces or downsizing the project could allow a reduction of some of the proposed rock slope creation.

Names of Retailers Not Released

No prospective retailers have been identified, and plans call for the project to be developed “on speculation” that retailers will make commitments to the location.

Smith said the developers will have to return to P&Z with specific architectural plans when prospective retailers are identified.

The property is located at 250 N. Main St., adjacent to the W. S. Clancy Memorial Funeral Home on one side; and United Tire Inc. and Greystone Manor condominiums on the other side.

The owners, Jeff Shapiro and family, who operate the Cedar Island Marina in Clinton, have been attempting to develop the property since it was purchased in 1997. Costco looked at the site in 2003, and the town once considered it as a location for the Public Works building, which is still in a rental facility.

The property contains wetlands and rocky outcroppings, and was extensively mined for gravel before the Shapiro family purchased the site.

Four Years of Proposals

The current project has been four years in the making, and has been downsized along the way.

After several public hearings that began in May, 2014, the first phase of the project was approved by the Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) in January 2015 . That phase created an access road and central driveway on the property. The P&Z also approved phase one in 2015. The second phase was unanimously approved by the IWC in January 2018.

The current plans call for two buildings, one would be 62,426 square feet; and the other would be 13,200 square feet. By comparison, the Stop & Shop at Exit 56 is 57,000 square feet; and the Kohl’s department store on Route 1 is about 87,000 square feet. There would be more than 200 parking spaces.

John Schmitz (pictured), an engineer with BL Companies of Meriden, said plans call for installation of a traffic signal on Route 1 at the entrance to the site.

Schmitz said he plans also involve swapping a small parcel of land with the owners of Clancy’s so that a connecting road at the rear of the properties can be constructed.

Janet Riesman, who owns property on East Main Street at Exit 56, was the only member of the public to speak. She said the project is a “classic example of what is wrong with development.” She said the proposed buildings are too large for the site, and she was also concerned about not knowing what retailers would be there.

The hearing will continue Thursday at 7 p.m. at Fire Headquarters. A public hearing for the proposed Indian Neck firehouse will also be held.

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posted by: Castles Burning on April 17, 2018  6:06pm

Let’s see if I understand this project properly. There is some land that has not been purchased since 1997, although attempts have been made to get it developed. Now, while no one needs or wants this property, the owner is asking for a special exception that will demolish much of the site to make room for an enormous retail structure, which will then attract a buyer whose business may generate up to 200 cars on an already too busy stretch of road. Who exactly benefits from this project and why would the PZC want to enable Jeff Shapiro and family by giving them a special exception?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 17, 2018  9:28pm

They said the same thing In west haven about the Mall Coming.Do you see a mall? Drive by there.I see board up Houses that have been boardup for years.