AAA Northeast plans to construct a regional fleet service center with offices on Rowe Avenue, pending city approval to abandon the unimproved portion of William Street, and also pending zoning approval of the plans.
The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) voted unanimously at its May 7 meeting to support AAA’s petition to abandon the portion of Williams Street between Finch Street and Rowe Avenue, which is owned by the city, and exists only on paper.
The board’s vote is an 8-24 referral in which the P&Z acts in an advisory capacity to the Board of Aldermen on matters related to city-owned property. The aldermen are expected to consider the measure at their June 3 meeting.
Attorney Barry Knott presented conceptual plans on behalf of AAA Northeast before the P&Z at its May 7 meeting. Knott said AAA would combine the paper street with land purchased from Rowe Avenue LLC to acquire the necessary land for the project.
The LLC owns a 1.84-acre property on Rowe Avenue adjacent to the paper street, which is about a half acre of land. The LLC lists Angela Nizzardo of 120 Allen Street, Stratford as a member. The plans list Alex Hall of DIL Development at that same address as the owner and project developer.
Knott said that when a street is abandoned, normally each property owner takes the land to the midpoint of the road, but he said AAA has an agreement with adjacent property owners to acquire the entire paper road.
“We need all of the street to do our development,” said Knott.
The 11,340-square-foot facility would include four service bays and a warehouse area for spare parts, tires and batteries. There would also be an office area that includes a dispatch and operations center for its truck fleet. Knott said three service bays would be used to service the vehicles owned by AAA, while the fourth bay would be used to train AAA mechanics and drivers.
Knott said 123 employees would work in three shifts with 60 to 70 employees working from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and another 30 to 40 employees working from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., and only one to two drivers working the overnight shift. Plans call for a 146-vehicle parking lot.
One of the main criteria for selecting this site, Knott said, was easy access to I-95. The property is located in a Light Industrial district with similar uses on adjacent properties. He stressed that the facility is not open to the public and is not a retail facility.
Of the 60 to 70 employees working the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, he said about 30 will work in the office and the other 30 to 40 are fleet employees who will pick up their trucks and leave for the entire shift, said Knott.
In a review of the project, City Engineer Gregory H. Pidluski wrote that the city has sanitary and storm sewer pipes under the paper street and wants to have an easement for access to these pipes. Knott said this is not a problem for AAA. He said the fire and police departments have no objections to abandoning the street.
Knott said he wrote a March 8 letter to Mayor Ben Blake and said the mayor’s assistant, Justin Rosen, asked him to obtain letters of support from the three abutting property owners. Knott presented these letters to the board. He said he cannot apply for city permits until the abandonment is approved.
Knott said the city will benefit by having 123 jobs, property taxes from the building, and it will also have 50 vehicles to tax with a fleet value of $2.6 million. This includes 15 flatbed trucks, 6 wreckers, and 29 pickup trucks.
Knott said AAA has been looking for five years for a suitable location for this facility. He said it currently operates one facility in North Haven and another in Bridgeport, and wants to consolidate those operations to the Milford location. He said this would be the only AAA facility in the state. He said AAA Northeast has six million members.