AAA headed to Woodmont Road
AAA Northeast will be consolidating its regional facility to an existing building at 302 Woodmont Road, following unanimous Planning and Zoning Board approval of the site plan and special permit at its Oct. 15 meeting.
Attorney Barry Knott told the board that AAA Northeast is the contract purchaser of the former Progressive Insurance building located at 302 Woodmont Road.
AAA plans to use the 17,847-square-foot building as a dispatch and operations center for its truck fleet. The 3.74-acre lot located in the Industrial District (ID) has 166 parking spaces. The building was appraised at $3.77 million in 2016.
Knott said the city will benefit by having 125 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, six wreckers, and 29 pickup trucks.
This was AAA’s second attempt to establish a facility in Milford. At the board’s May 7 meeting, AAA proposed constructing a facility on a vacant parcel on Rowe Avenue at Williams Street.
At that meeting, the P&Z voted unanimously 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 was 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.
However, at the June 3 Board of Aldermen meeting, residents on Finch, Munson and Williams streets expressed concern about the negative effects the facility might have on their quality of life. In response, the aldermen voted to postpone any decision on the abandonment, and directed AAA to work with the neighbors to address their concerns.
Prior to the alderman’s July 1 meeting, Knott asked the aldermen to remove the Williams Street abandonment from its agenda because AAA had found another location, the exact details of which were not revealed at that time.
At the Oct. 15 meeting, Knott stressed the fact that the 302 Woodmont Road building is located in an industrial zone with no residential neighbors. He said the proximity to I-95 “was one of the main attractions to AAA Northeast.” The proposal received no public comment.
City Planner David B. Sulkis commented on the plans by saying, “This is a good reuse.”
Knott said the Woodmont Road location is “substantially better” for AAA because the building is much larger than the proposed building on Rowe Avenue and the lot is larger with more parking that in the original plan.
The building 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 of the four service bays would be used to service the vehicles owned by AAA, with the fourth bay used to train AAA mechanics and drivers. He stressed that no servicing of vehicles for retail customers would take place at this location.
Knott said 125 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 driver and one dispatch person working the overnight shift from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
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.
According to the Knott, the company probably will relocate its retail operation from 827 Bridgeport Ave. to the Woodmont Road location.
At the Bridgeport Avenue location, AAA sells insurance, cruise tickets and vacation packages, and also rents cars for most rental companies. People may also purchase or renew a membership in AAA at the retail location. He further said AAA hopes to start a vehicle registration system for the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.
At the May 7 meeting, 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.