Milford P&Z delays decision on proposed bus facility

Durham School Services buses parked outside of the former Sears Auto Center at the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford on August 14, 2020

Durham School Services buses parked outside of the former Sears Auto Center at the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford on August 14, 2020

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Developers are back seeking creation of a bus depot and private fueling facility on Plains Road for the school district’s contracted busy company.

The developers, 615 Plains Road, LLC, presented its plan to the Milford Planning and Zoning Board this past week — a move that had been delayed after the wetlands violations which needed correction.

The board continued the meeting on the application to its next meeting, so a full board is available for the final vote.

The developers entered into a long-term lease with Durham School Services to allow Durham to use the building at 615 Plains Road for a general office, dispatch, bus inspections and general maintenance and private fueling station.

The proposed improvements to the surface parking lot will allow school bus and employee parking for 69 school buses and 67 employees, including drivers and eight on-site staff employees.

“We have received police approval, fire department approval, sewer approval and there are an inland wetlands plan in place,” said attorney Kevin Curseaden, representing Durham School Services. “The work cannot be completed until the spring, but a planting plan was filed with the inland wetland commission in the time frame required, which was Feb. 28.”

Besides a private fueling facility, the proposal has the location to be used as a school bus base of operations, storage and maintenance for school buses. There is an existing 13,694-square-foot building that the applicant said will not change, and they are also ready to build a self-contained fueling station with the zoning approval.

During the school year, the first bus out is at 6 a.m. All buses return in the morning between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. Midday routes are out between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., back by 12:30 p.m. Afternoon routes begin at 1:15 p.m.

Sports trips can see buses return at 10:30 p.m. or later.

The buses will exit on Plains Road, turn on Shelland Street and then onto Bic Drive when leaving the bus depot. On their way back, they will take Bic Drive to Shelland and then onto Plains and enter the property from Raton Drive.

Attorney Thomas Lynch, representing the applicant, said because the total number of trips per peak hour will be 70, the application does not need a traffic study or third-party review. The traffic study or third-party review is triggered with an application generating 100 or more vehicular trips during the peak.

David Sulkis, city planner, said smaller projects in the city have required traffic studies. Some have been smaller residential properties and projects with smaller traffic impacts than this application.

“We have required a third-party review, simply because of where those uses were in existing residential neighborhoods,” he said. “The concern with this, unlike the mall site, this site is immediately adjacent to a dense residential neighborhood, and there is concern this use will have, perhaps, a negative impact on those neighborhoods.”

Sulkis pointed out how the traffic letter they received mentioned the 70 buses but did not mention the rest of the employees who will work at the site.

“So unless everybody goes to that site and there isn’t a soul there, because everybody drove off in a bus, that traffic letter that was provided isn’t giving us the full scope of what is going on there,” he said.