Colonial Toyota has approval to establish a parking lot for storage of its vehicle inventory at 449 Boston Post Road, which formerly housed the now demolished Kimberly Diner.

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) and residents both praised Colonial representatives for their willingness to meet with neighbors and make adjustments to the original proposal. The unanimous P&Z vote took place following the Dec. 2 public hearing.

Commenting on the plan, Board Chairman Benjamin Gettinger said, “I think this is how you get a major project done in Milford. You don't jam it down the throats of the neighbors. You work with the neighbors.”

Under the business name Gold Coast Realty II, Colonial applied for a zone change from R-12.5 residential to Corridor Design Development District 1 (CDD-1) for a portion of its properties on Ford and Gunn streets to match the zoning of the property along the Boston Post Road. The zone change takes effect Dec. 22.

At its Sept. 2 meeting, a 4-4 split vote from the P&Z resulted in denial of Colonial Toyota's previous proposal, which requested a zone change from residential to commercial along a portion of Ford and Gunn streets extending to the midline of the street.

Residents at the Aug. 19 public hearing and board members at the Sept. 2 meeting said they were concerned about encroachment of the commercial district into the residential area.

In the approved proposal, the zone change ends five feet from the edge of Colonial's property on Ford and Gunn streets. The remaining residential section is now deed-restricted to prevent any further development.

Colonial also received a special permit and site plan approval from the board for the entire project. In addition, the dealership received permission to use a vacant commercial building at 435 Boston Post Road as a photo shop to take pictures of vehicles for Internet sales.

“We have proposed a zone change that will allow a reasonable type of development,” said Brian Stone, attorney for Gold Coast Realty II at the Dec. 2 public hearing “…a storage lot that will have the least impact on neighbors.”

Stone said that following the Sept. 2 vote, Robert E. Crabtree Jr., president of Colonial Motors and manager of Gold Coast Realty, had another meeting with neighbors.

“They did not support the zone change to the middle of the street,” said Stone. “We thought the buffer strip would address their concerns. It did not.”

Stone told the board at the Dec. 2 public hearing that the neighbors were the ones who suggested the zone change five feet from the edge of the residential property.

At the Aug. 19 public hearing and again at the Dec. 2 hearing, Timothy Onderko, design engineer for Colonial, said Colonial planned to install a six-foot high vinyl fence with board on board construction to provide a visual barrier. The 20-foot wide buffer area would include a three-foot high berm on which seven-foot high evergreen trees will be planted. The berm with trees and fences is also part of the final, approved plan.

Onderko said the plan calls for 167 parking spaces in the open area and 13 additional spaces behind the existing commercial building. That building would be painted to match the appearance of the other Colonial Toyota buildings.

Onderko said there would be a single entry point from the Boston Post Road, with all other existing ones closed up. Onderko said the driveway to Gunn Street would be aligned with the Colonial training center across the street. All vehicles would be unloaded on the site, using the entry off Route 1.

The lot will use pervious pavement on 30 to 40% of its area to allow water to soak into the ground, and an under-ground drainage system to reduce water run-off as compared to the current property. Onderko said there would be a 50% re-duction in a so-called two-year storm, and a 20% reduction in run-off from a 100-year storm.

Onderko said the plans call for LED light fixtures, which would be directed into the parking lot “with no spillover into the residential zone.”

A total of 13 residents spoke in opposition to the plan at the Aug. 19 public hearing. By comparison, 8 residents spoke in favor of the proposal at the Dec. 2 hearing, including some who had opposed it in August. No one spoke against the proposal in December.

Among those who spoke at both hearings was Prashant Chandra of 32 Ford Street. In December, Chandra praised Crabtree for his willingness to protect the residential properties.

Ed Taylor of 46 Ford Street was opposed in August to moving the zone line to the middle of Ford Street. In December, Taylorthanked the board for listening to the neighbors and said, “We are very happy with the results of the changes that were made.”