Parking is focus of M&M Farms/Asian market plan
An Asian supermarket with a food court called New York Mart is planned for the location of the former M&M Farms at 804 Boston Post Road following an 8-2 approval vote by the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) at its March 15 meeting.
M&M Farms closed its doors in December 2011 and the property has been vacant since that time. NYM Milford LLC purchased the 1.39-acre property on May 28, 2015 from Brookside Holdings LLC for $1.3 million. The 19,382 square foot building was constructed in 1975.
NYM Milford registered with the Secretary of State on May 1, 2015, and lists Deng and Lily Long of Long Island City, N.Y. as its members, and Shunyu She of Rocky Hill as its agent.
Architect Raymond Oliver made the presentation on behalf of the owners, which he said have 17 stores in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
Oliver said the existing building would be remodeled, including removing the greenhouse structures, and adding exterior entrances on the Boston Post Road side for space leased to vendors. Cream-colored plank siding would be installed on the exterior, along with a new metal and clay tile roof.
Inside the building the main area will be used for the Asian market, including Asian specialty items, fresh produce and fresh fish. The store would include an 1,800 square foot food court with a food preparation area for eat in and take out food, said Oliver. The small area on the second floor would be used for a business office.
The existing parking lot would be repaved and restriped. New concrete aprons will be installed at the driveway entrances. The sidewalk along Orange Avenue will be replaced and the sidewalk along Route 1 will be repaired as needed.
The exterior will also receive new lighting that Oliver said would not spill onto the nearby residential area. There will be a new sign for the building, an improved stormwater drainage system, and additional landscaping.
The plan needed a special exception because it calls for 65 parking spaces when 103 are required. The P&Z also approved the project’s site plan.
Board Questions Parking
Questions about parking dominated the board’s discussion.
Board member Thomas Nichol, who voted against the plan, asked Oliver if there were any plans to increase the parking lot size. Oliver said the new lot would be designed to city standards, and said parking calculations were based on the market needing 65 parking spaces, the food court adding 24 more spaces, and the basement another 14 spaces.
“Some shoppers will be using the food court,” said Oliver. “It’s not like it’s a sit-down restaurant," noting that the seating area would be a row of tables and chairs.
Oliver said there is no property available to expand the parking lot, commenting, “The property next door is not for sale at this point.”
Adjacent to the market’s parking lot is a 0.2-acre commercially zoned vacant parcel owned by D’Amato Investments of Milford. The 2015 appraisal is $130,950.
Board member Thomas Panzella, who also voted against the proposal, questioned where employees would park. Board member Scott Marlow, who voted in favor, asked for a plan for employee parking and a promise that people would not park along Orange Avenue.
Francis Zhou, assistant to the company president, said, “Employees will park somewhere else,” saying customers would come first and the store could do a shuttle service. He expected 50 to 60 people would work at the market, with 40 at one time.
Board member Richard Lutz made an amendment to the motion to add as a condition of approval a contract specifying parking spaces for employees. The amendment failed due to a split vote on the board. He asked Zhou if he could return with a rental agreement for employee parking.
“We will negotiate for it once we open our supermarket and see how it is going,” said Zhou.
More than 50% of the workers would come from New York, he indicated. Zhou said the company would rent two to three houses for the workers to live together, and they would be transported to the market.
In response to a question from board member John Grant who asked if the market could be built without the food court, Zhou said, “A food court is very essential to a Chinese supermarket, attracting the customers, Asian people who like to purchase traditional Chinese food.”
Odors, Parking Are Concerns
During the public portion of the hearing, no one spoke in favor, but four neighbors expressed concern about how the market would affect them. One requested that the “No Parking” signs on Orange Avenue that had been removed be installed again.
Mary Anne Cyr of 32 Orange Avenue, said she gets a “horrible stench” from restaurants on Route 1, and had to put up with a garbage smell from M&M Farms. Roger Cyr said that when M&M Farms compacted its garbage, the liquid would squeeze out into a storm drain below the compactor.
“I don’t know what their plan is,” said Roger Cyr. “They better get it together.”
In response, Oliver said the building has a built in loading area with deliveries during business hours. He said the company uses van-type trucks, not large tractor trailers.
The dumpster enclosure on the Orange Avenue side would have a six-foot high fence with gates and garbage would be collected daily, said Oliver.
“The dumpster pad won’t have a drain. That’s illegal,” said Oliver.
In making the motion to approve the project, board member Jim Quish said, “The building has been vacant for a long time. It probably could be considered blight. This has an attractive appearance. We should embrace their investment.”
Showing his support for the project, board vice chairman Edward Mead said, “The calculation for the basement should not be added.” Mead said the building has been operated as a store since the 1960s and said there was no reason to include the basement in the parking calculations. With people shopping and using the food court, the project is short maybe eight parking spaces, said Mead.
City Planner David B. Sulkis said he would ask the police department to investigate the signage along Orange Avenue, and said the Police Commission would have to study the road to make the determination about signs.
An article in China Daily USA from Nov. 21, 2014 has a profile of Long and his plans for New York Mart, indicating the chain had 11 stores at that time with plans for expansion. The article may be viewed at http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/us/2014-11/21/content_18951363.htm.