NORWALK, Conn. – Once more with feeling: Zoning Commissioner Mike Mushak again pushed last week for traffic studies to be incorporated into zoning regulations. The repetitive plea was met with repetitive results, although this time he had new elements to his requests.
The seven minute-long effort at Wednesday’s Zoning Commission meeting ended when Commissioner Jim White started walking out. It was 11 p.m. White said he needed to get up at 4.
Mushak began pushing for a zoning regulation change last September, one day after the application to put a 109,000-square-foot BJ’s Wholesale Club on the nearly 5-acre Superfund site at 272-280 Main Ave. was withdrawn due to public opposition. He had asked many times why the recommendations in the 2006 Westport-Main Ave. Corridor Study, which cost taxpayers $500,000, had not become zoning law, as recommended in the 2008 Master Plan.
The Common Council’s Zoning Committee subsequently studied limiting the size of retail establishments on Main Avenue, from New Canaan Avenue to Linden Street. That was dropped last month.
Mushak began Wednesday’s soliloquy after a two-hour public hearing on a Glover Street building, which followed a public hearing on the Silvermine Tavern.
Zoning Commission meetings always end with an opportunity for commissioners to comment. This commission meeting was preceded by a Zoning Committee meeting, necessitated by all the snow. Commissioners had been there four hours when Mushak brought up the studies again.
“This was approved in October 2012, that was almost a year and a half ago. I think we should have these conditions in our traffic study.
“Well, we’ll talk about it another time,” White said.
“They should have been adopted by now,” Mushak said.
“They’re only recommendations,” White said, repeating something said by former Corporation Counsel Robert Maslan.
“I want to put these on the agenda for the next meeting to discuss and adopt,” Mushak said. “I can’t imagine any reason we wouldn’t adopt these. They’re were recommended by a national consultant to protect neighborhoods,” he said.
“Motion to adjourn?” Wilson said.
Mushak said, “No, I’m not finished yet. I’m not finished with my comments. I’m sorry.”
He continued as White and Jill Jacobsen stood, mentioning Transportation Oriented Development zoning overlays recommended in 2011 for South Norwalk.
“Redevelopment Agency has been requesting that these be changed for three years and the Zoning Commission has not,” he said. “This would have actually made the Washington Village project more affordable.”
He also talked about contractor yards.
“We promised a year and a half ago that we would address those within in six months and we haven’t. … I think we have shown a pattern of neglect when it comes to our planning and zoning initiatives and I want to see a new approach as soon as possible,” he said.
New Commissioner Nora King asked Mushak to send her an email suggesting a timeline for examining the information.
“I was actually involved with the Common Council with that traffic study. It’s a waste, sitting on the shelf,” she said.
“It’s up to the commission to put it on the agenda,” Deputy Planning and Zoning Director Mike Wrinn said, eventually cautioning that it would take the volunteer commissioners a lot of time to do what Mushak was suggesting.
White began to leave, repeating again that he needed to get up. Mushak said the studies were important, to which White replied, “Duh.”
White said in frustration, “You’re being redundant again.”
This time Mushak did not protest when Wilson said, “Motion to adjourn.”