Board nixes expansion of Robert's Service Center

At at its July 17 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) unanimously rejected a proposed amendment to the zoning regulations that would allow service station garages in the Corridor Design Development District 4 (CDD-4), which includes New Haven and Buckingham avenues.
Robert and Maureen Bruneau, owners of Robert's Service Center, 210 and 216 Buckingham Ave., near the corner of New Haven Avenue, requested the regulation change in an attempt to change the use of their property from legal non-conforming to conforming.

The regulation change would have also opened the door for the Bruneaus to submit an application to receive a zoning permit for their non-authorized expansion of the business onto a residential property they own at 210 Buckingham Ave.
According to a June 21 report from Stephen Harris, zoning enforcement officer, 216 Buckingham Ave. had 15 customer parking spaces when only 10 were approved in 2000, and the rear parking lot did not match the configuration on the plans from 2000. Harris also noted that “[T]here is no record of an approval to expand onto #210.”
The proposal had been strongly contested by neighbor Donna Dutko of 236 Buckingham Ave., who was represented by attorney Winthrop Smith, and who had filed the complaint that led to the inspection by Harris.
Explaining the decision, Chairman Mark Bender said board members thought the text amendment “was a little too specific and really didn't go in harmony with the area.”
The board essentially agreed with the position taken by Smith that the proposal was spot zoning because the only property that would have met the tightly-defined regulation was the one owned by the Bruneaus.
Bender said the board took into account the positive comments from the police and fire departments and others about the quality work done by Robert's, and the presentable way the business appeared to Harris when he did an on-site inspection.
“What makes it difficult was it is a good business,” said Bender.