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Lowe’s presents plans to Norwalk Zoning Commission

A model of the Lowe’s planned for 80-100 Connecticut Ave., presented Wednesday at the Norwalk Zoning Commission.

Updated, 4:15 p.m. 

By Nancy Guenther Chapman

NORWALK, Conn. – Lowe’s representatives made their pitch Wednesday evening to Norwalk’s Zoning Commission, saying that the company had worked with neighbors of its Connecticut Avenue property and modified its plans accordingly.

Community activists agreed but said they still had concerns.

The store at 80 and 100 Connecticut Ave. would employ 130 people, with 80 percent of them full-time employees, said state Rep. Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) of  Brown Rudnick LLP, Lowe’s attorney.

The 10.2-acre parcel bordered by Clinton and Stuart avenues and Frost Street has been vacant for five years, he said. Lowe’s will demolish what is there and construct a 141,715-square-foot store, including a 25,000-square-foot garden center. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2014 and finish by late fall 2015.

There will be no new traffic lights on Connecticut Avenue, as the two existing lights are too close together to allow a new light to be installed, per Connecticut Department of Transportation regulations, Cafero said. Entrance from Connecticut Avenue will be done by right turn only at Stuart Avenue. There also is an entrance planned for Clinton Avenue, the only place trucks will go in and out. The curb cuts currently on the Frost Avenue side of the property will be eliminated.

Cafero said Lowe’s stores only get four tractor trailer truck deliveries a day, which he said means a minimal impact on the area.

A rain garden is planned for the largest parking island in the lot.

The plan at present is to save 11 of the existing trees on the property; there are 102 trees there now and 142 planned. Lowe’s met with neighbors and decided to save two Maple trees at the corner of Frost and Clinton, two oak trees and eight other Maple trees. “Lowe’s is very serious and very conscious of having good relationships with neighbors,” Cafero said, adding that representatives had met with the Spring Hill Association.

The company wanted to save two oak trees on Connecticut Avenue, but CDOT said they had to come down for new sidewalks, part of much work planned in the vicinity as part of the I-95 widening project.

Crosswalks are planned for Stuart and Frost streets. An architecturally appealing fence along Frost will be augmented by landscaping, Cafero said. A 7-foot wide sidewalk will run along Connecticut Avenue; Clinton Avenue will have 4 feet of concrete sidewalk with 3 feet of grass.

Lowe’s met with the department of public works and studied stop signs in the area.

After the presentation, Diane Cece said the Coalition of Norwalk Neighborhood Associations wasn’t happy about a recent zoning change that benefitted Lowe’s, saying the process for the change had been dishonest. But, on behalf of CNNA, she thanked Lowe’s for working with neighbors. “We believe many areas were addressed to the best of their abilities and to the limits of existing city regulations,” she said.

Still, CNNA had 15 requests, many dealing with noise, traffic and parking issues. Both Cece and Diane Lauricella said they were worried about Lowe’s close proximity to the new fire station under construction at 121 Connecticut Ave. They also wanted a green roof, with lightweight plants to absorb rainwater, and a reduction in the amount of impervious surface to protect the Norwalk River watershed.

Cafero responded that the application is already within zoning regulations to qualify for a special permit.

Zoning commissioner Joe Santo said people from Wilton and New Canaan will look for the back route to the store and discover Benedict Street. Spring Hill Association President Al Raymond echoed that sentiment.

“I’m concerned about the neighborhood,” he said. “There’s been a lot of changes. Norwalk Hospital is getting bigger. … That neighborhood is the most dense area in the city because of all the condominiums.”

It will be “inundated,” he said.

Chester Jarvis, a Clinton Avenue resident, said he has three children and people coming down the road assume it’s a 45 mph street. The store will “double the traffic, triple the traffic,” but he was open to it if it creates new jobs.

Norwalk Chamber of Commerce President Ed Musante reminded the commission that the project also means construction jobs.

Attorney Marc Grenier also supported the application. “This is a prime example of an application that should continue to support the economic growth in the city of Norwalk,” he said. “This is a fine project, a project that will continue to generate tax revenues for the city of Norwalk. I think also competition is good.”

Commission members did not say when they will vote on the proposal.

Zoning Commission Jan 16 2013

A model of the Lowe's planned for 80-100 Connecticut Ave., presented Wednesday at the Norwalk Zoning Commission.
A model of the Lowe’s planned for 80-100 Connecticut Ave., presented Wednesday at the Norwalk Zoning Commission.

Comments

4 responses to “Lowe’s presents plans to Norwalk Zoning Commission”

  1. Diane C2

    *saying the process for the change had been dishonest.

    Nancy, not exactly what I said. I referred to Mr. Greene’s assertion that no applicant existed at the time of the zoning regulation change or at the time of Lowe’s $20k grant to Keep Norwalk Beautiful. Because they had not actually “submitted” an application, he was technically correct, but of course he knew that Lowe’s was applying there – they had already long been working wih the DOT on the traffic plan there.
    I did then, and I now, continue to consider the zoning reg change to be spot zoning (my words, as citizen, NOT as CNNA).

  2. Sorry, I tried to summarize.
    I just attached a PDF to the article with your comments and those of Diane Lauricella. Thanks for passing them to me.

  3. Oldtimer

    Calling it spot zoning is certainly reasonable. We can only hope the people on the zoning board weighed the costs against the benefits and used their best judgement. Spot zoning is not always a bad thing, but it generally is something zoning boards try to avoid.

  4. Joe Neighbor

    Wow they met with neighbors? That’s a lot more than the water dept did at grandview ave when they decided to build that hideous tower. They just showed up one day and started cutting down trees. Claimed to have sent out letters but that’s a lie, nobody anywhere up here got anything.

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