Chevy gets OK for parking spaces but not a car wash

At its April 4 meeting, the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) rejected an application from Chevrolet of Milford to rezone 18 Twin Oaks Terrace so the property could be used as the location for the dealership’s car wash. At the board’s May 2 meeting, the P&Z approved a special exception allowing the dealership to create nine employee-only parking spaces at 18 Twin Oaks Terrace.

The zone remains Residential Office (RO).

In a vote with eight in favor and two abstentions, the board stipulated that the parking lot is for employees only, there is no after-hours or overnight parking, and no lights may be installed on this property. This parking lot will be accessible only from the main parking lot at 655 Bridgeport Ave.

The dealership purchased the former Milford Knights of Columbus property at 625 Bridgeport Ave. to use as a parking lot for new vehicles. At its April 4 meeting, the board approved the parking lot plan for the property at 625 Bridgeport Ave., which is located in the Corridor Design Development District 3 (CDD-3).

Chevrolet of Milford had also applied for a zone change for the property it purchased at 18 Twin Oaks Terrace from RO to CDD-3. This change would permit construction of a car wash to be used exclusively by the dealership. The zone change was necessary because car washes are not a permitted use in an RO zone.

After area residents protested the car wash plan at an April 4 public hearing, the P&Z voted to reject a proposed zone line adjustment that would have changed the property, thus blocking the car wash plan.

The city agreed to abandon a portion of Twin Oaks Terrace, allowing the dealership to construct a cul-de-sac between the properties at 625 and 655 Bridgeport Ave.

At the May 2 meeting, Raymond A. Macaluso owner of the engineering and surveying firm Westcott and Mapes told the board that Sanford Realty, owner of the dealership, wished to install an employee-only parking lot at 18 Twin Oaks Terrace.

Macaluso said the parking lot would have a 20-foot wide buffer area with a 6-foot high vinyl fence, along with a berm topped with arborvitae shrubs to screen the property from the neighbors. He said zoning only requires a 10-foot setback.

Macaluso said this parking lot would be more than 120 feet from the nearest property on Sycamore Drive. He also said there would be no lights in the Twin Oaks Terrace parking lot with the light coming from the parking lot at 655 Bridgeport Ave. He said the RO zone would allow Sanford Realty to construct an office building with a parking lot and have only a 10-foot buffer from neighboring properties.

Neighbors opposed

Five people, including four from Sycamore Drive and one from Meadows End Road, spoke against the parking lot, with some saying they are concerned about commercial property moving ever closer to the residential neighborhood.  

Phyllis Gallo of 25 Sycamore Drive, noted that she presented a petition at the April 4 meeting, signed by 110 people opposed to the car wash. Gallo said she and her neighbors “don’t want the dealership to come back any further.” Gallo commented that the driveway for the property had already been replaced with a new curb.

“I have no problem with putting a residential office there,” said Gallo. “It’s zoned residential. It should stay that way.”

Michelle Zulawski of 31 Sycamore Road said, “I am suspicious of the future use of that land. The lighting could change in the future.”

Kathlyn Kraffmiller of 37 Sycamore Drive said the dealership had a self-imposed hardship because it knew the zoning when it purchased the Twin Oaks property.

Kraffmiller said there is a new house being built on the lot at 20 Twin Oaks Terrace that would be affected by this parking lot. She also complained about the lighting on the Chevrolet property.

“We have lost so much residential property there to this business,” said Kraffmiller. “We’d rather see a building. That’s what it’s zoned for.”

In response to resident’s concerns, Macaluso said that most of the residents who opposed the project are from Sycamore Drive. He said when the project is completed the residents of Twin Oaks Terrace will have a large buffer.

“We are not encroaching on their property [on Sycamore Drive],” said Macaluso. “They [the dealership] have no intention of putting lights up or buying other properties.”