Some neighbors oppose plans for Cumberland Farms on former Gloria's market site

Neighboring businesses and residential owners protested a plan to build a new Cumberland Farms gas station and convenience store at the location of the former Gloria's Garden Center at 258-266 Boston Post Road.

The objections were voiced to the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) at its July 16 public hearing. The board is scheduled to discuss the request for a special permit and site plan review at its Aug. 6 meeting at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Attorney Benjamin Proto, representing the applicant, Cumberland Farms and First Hartford Realty, said the convenience store would be 4,500 square feet with five dispenser stations totaling 10 gasoline pumps. Patrons could enter from any of the roads, but could only exit onto the Post Road by turning right in a southbound direction.

The property is actually two separate lots that would be merged into one lot, said Proto. The parcels represent a combined size of 1.12 acres and are located in a triangular wedge bordered by the Post Road, Plains Road, and West Clark Street. The site is currently an asphalt slab that is sprouting weeds.

Proto said the proposal meets the requirements of the Corridor Design Development District 1 (CDD-1), but did require one variance, which it received on Feb. 26 from the Zoning Board of Appeals. The zone requires gas stations to have a 300-foot setback from a residential zone. There is such a zone located 285 feet away on the other side of the Post Road.

The parcel is a major entry point into Milford, said Proto. “The city has requested a Welcome to Milford sign at the point of the triangle. We can work with city staff on the design.”

Project engineer Luke DeStefano said the property would have 16 parking spaces in front of the building, plus an additional 10 designated spaces at the gasoline pumps, which he said meets the requirement of having 23 parking spaces.

DeStefano said the project would include the planting of 10 shade trees, plus a large green space at the point of the triangle where Plains Road meets Clark Street. He said storm water drainage would be greatly improved by a storm water system that would collect, retain and treat rainwater. This would include a small detention pond for roof runoff that would be used to refresh groundwater.

“It would improve treatment and runoff rates,” said DeStefano.

Traffic Engineer Steve Savaria said traffic counts at the existing Cumberland Farms at 1023 Boston Post Road were used to compute the effect of traffic for the proposed store. The counts were adjusted based on the fact that the site near Cherry Street is smaller with fewer pumps.

“The conclusion is that site access points will operate efficiently with no additional congestion,” said Savaria, who recommends that the state adjust the timing for the light at West Clark Street at the Post Road “to account for increased traffic.”

Savaria said the project also requires a permit from the Connecticut Department of Transportation, as the parcel fronts on the Post Road, which is a state road. He said the DOT restricted the exiting traffic onto Rt. 1 as southbound only.

City Planner David B. Sulkis said using the area by the pumps as parking spaces has been used at other sites in Milford. He commented on the plan by saying, “This is a definite improvement. It is a well thought out and comprehensive plan for that site.”

At the public hearing, no one spoke in favor of the plan, and five people voiced their opposition, expressing concern regarding the additional traffic the property would bring to an already busy area.

Javaid Chaudry, owner of the Mobil Mart at 118 Plains Road, disputed Savaria's assertion that there would be a minimum effect on traffic. Chaudry said when there is a back-up on I-95, people exit the highway.

“There would be a big clog up of people making the left turn onto the Post Road,” said Chau-dry.

Resident Lee McCarthy of 249 Plains Road said, “Ever since Dunkin' Donuts was built, it has made a complete mess of that intersection,” referring to the store that was built across the Post Road at the corner of Clark Street.