Russell Speeder Car Wash gets OK to expand

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) revisited an application for a zone change for a property at 16 Ross St. at its Dec. 4 meeting, changing the action taken from denied to approved.

Russell Speeder Car Wash, 263 Cherry St., applied for a zone change to expand its property with the goal of having more cars waiting on its site and not extending out into Cherry Street.

At the board’s Nov. 20 meeting, the board voted to approve a zone change for a property at 16 Ross St. by a 6-2 margin. When the vote was announced, City Planner David B. Sulkis said the motion failed because he said a map (or zone) change required at least seven votes in favor to pass.

However, in a Nov. 27 email following the meeting, Attorney Thomas Lynch challenged the ruling by Sulkis, citing Connecticut statutes and Milford’s zoning regulations, commenting that a two-thirds vote is required only when there is a protest against the zone change by 20 percent or more of the lot owners affected by the change or within 500 feet of the change.

No one from the public was present to comment on the zone change during the public hearing, and the board did not announce any correspondence regarding the zone change proposal.

Conn. Statutes Sec. 8-3 states that boundaries of zoning districts cannot be changed unless a zoning commission of at least five members holds a public hearing that has been announced at least 10 days in advance, with a majority voting in favor of the change.

Section 10.1 of the Milford regulations state the board can change a zone “in accordance with the General Statutes of the State of Connecticut.” Section 10.5 of the local regulations state that a two-third vote is needed in case of a protest.

The P&Z previously voted 6-2 at its Sept. 4 meeting to allow the business to pursue a zone change without submitting an application for a special permit and site plan review.

In presenting the zone change application at the board’s Nov. 20 meeting, Lynch said company would like to extend the Corridor Design Development District (CDD-1) zone line onto the 0.12-acre property at 16 Ross St., which is currently zoned R-5, a single-family residential district.

The plan would be to demolish the 1,200 sq. ft. house from 1950, and use the land to allow additional vehicles to wait in line for the car wash, allowing two lines of cars, instead of the current single line, eliminating the line of cars that can extend down Cherry Street to Corona Drive. Lynch said the car wash has a contract to purchase the property from current owner John E. Rogers.

Lynch said the property needs a number of variances related to the buffer between this property and the adjacent properties. He said the zone needed to be changed before he could go to the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) with applications for variances because those variances apply to the CDD-1 zone.

Under the proposed site plan, the shed with the waiting area and the car detailing area would be eliminated to allow for the longer driveway, said Lynch. There are no plans for any additional structures.

Lynch said the Shoreline Dental Group, located at 255 Cherry St., purchased the next property at 20 Ross St., demolished the house, and is using it for overflow parking. As a result, the car wash would not be adjacent to a house.

Sulkis said the parking at 20 Ross St. violates zoning regulations, which do not allow commercial parking in a residential area.

“Thanks to Mr. Lynch, we are going to have to do something about that,” said Sulkis, saying the board should not take this into consideration when making its decision.

Sulkis said the proposed site plan does not meet zoning requirements without at least four variances, and would only be conforming with those variances. He said the proposed driveway on the 16 Ross St. property also would be non-conforming with regard to side setbacks. He said the board typically does not approve applications with variances, excepting for minimal things as side yard variances for single-family homes.

Lynch said the variances are intended to “legitimize what is there now” for a car wash that was constructed 35 years ago without any buffers, and are not intended to allow the construction of any new buildings.

If the P&Z does approve the zone change, and the ZBA grants those variances, then Lynch would have to return to the P&Z with a site plan.

For the Nov. 20 motion, board members John Grant and Robert Satti voting against the zone change. Satti also voted at the Sept. 4 meeting against the allowing the zone change application without a site plan.

At the Sept. 4 meeting, Grant, board member Denise Doucett-Ginese, and board chairman Jim Quish voted in favor of the motion to allow the zone change application to come before the board. Doucette-Ginese and Quish were not present at the Nov. 20 meeting.