Auto body shop proposal on Main Street upsets neighbors

To the Editor,

An egregious zoning violation exists with the proposed auto body shop at 604 Main St. at the corner of Bart Road, Monroe. This property by law is in a B-1 district. According to Monroe Planning and Zoning regulations, such a B-1 district is designated for retail establishments, personal services, professional offices, medical offices and banks. (Article 4, P.1)

Town zoning regulations state “an auto body shop is not permitted except in a I-2 (industrial) district.” (Article 8, P.12) This is with good reason. According to the EPA, auto body shops emit hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) particulate pollution (dust), and volatile organic compounds (VOC).

The pollutants contribute to a variety of health problems. “Paints, cleaners and paint strippers can release chemical substances into the air to form ground level ozone (smog) that is linked to a number of respiratory effects.” (https://epa.gov/airquality/community/web/html/autobody_shops_addi_info.html)

How, one might ask, has this come to pass? Town officials admit that the zoning certificate for the body shop in the B-1 district was issued in error. Officials also indicate they are looking to the Town Attorney for a “remedy.” However, some work has begun on the property, and the licensing process has continued to go forward.

The business is approved by the signatures of the Zoning Enforcement Officer (9/5/2023), the Building Official (10/24/2023) and the Fire Marshall (10/24/2023). It appears as though, for reasons unknown to the public, the Town intended to proceed, despite the zoning disparity.

Moreover, as published on the Town website, the primary purpose of Planning and Zoning in Monroe is “to protect the public health, safety and general welfare of the community.”

Residents of Bart Road, Vincent Drive, Verna Road and Melon Patch Lane argue that this is not the case. The health and safety of our families is at risk. Many of us live in close proximity, some adjacent to this site. Further, the number of parked cars becomes an eyesore. Devaluation of our properties is an imminent issue.

Planning and Zoning must not look the other way. Allowing the business to open in an improper zone is illegal. And certainly, a dangerous precedent. The “remedy” for the Town is to 1) admit the error, 2) recall the certificate; and 3) issue a cease and desist order.

Residents can express concerns at the Planning and Zoning Commission Regular Meeting.  The next meeting is scheduled for December 7 at 7 p.m.

Susan Bannay, Save Our Stepney Task Force and concerned residents of Bart Road, Vincent Drive, Verna Road and Melon Patch Lane.

All respectful comments with the commenter’s first and last name are welcome.


  1. I just read with great interest and concern the letter to the editor about this current issue with the town of Monroe allowing a body shop to open up in a location prohibited by the town P&Z office.
    Apparently this type of business which is known to be prohibited in this location has been totally ignored by town officials which they admitted to, based on the letter to the editor.
    It is certainly clear and rightfully so, that the residents of Monroe are not only concerned about this violation, but also that the permit be immediately revoked by the town.

  2. Can the town simply revoke a permit they signed off on? Someone looks like they put a lot of money in that building already, so if the Town revokes the permit someome is going to have to pay someome back for monies spent.

    It’s nice to finally see some development going on at the Bart Center. It looks nice what’s being done there and certsinly better than passing by a largely vacant, ugly set of buildings.

    Kudos to the people who take a risk and choose to spend their money in the Town of Monroe. Let’s not block these investors, let’s celebrate them, there are other options than Monroe!!!

    • Taking risks is one thing. Having a building go up that shouldn’t have is another. Zoning is there for a reason, obviously there is some reason this type of business can’t be built there. Someone made a mistake and no one is taking responsibility in the town.

      This is not ok, you don’t just say, well at least they picked Monroe. I’m all for businesses coming into Monroe, but they have to follow the rules, guidelines, and zoning everyone else has to. How’d you like it if they just opened an asphalt production company or mulch storing facility next to your home? Well you don’t have to worry about that cause that’s what Zoning is for.

  3. What Monroe needs is the right businesses in the right places and that requires our town government needs to be overhauled. The town commissions need to represent the residents, work together and support each other. For example the Economic Development Commission could poll residents and conduct research to identify what is desired and appropriate in our town. Then the EDC, Architectural Review Board, and (if appropriate) the Inland Wetlands Commission could assess every business application and give them ratings based on the type and specific location proposed. These ratings would be used for potential tax abatement and to provide guidance to P&Z and Town Council. This would be getting much closer to performing actual planning and zoning. Without improvements it will remain that just a few individuals can push through their ‘game plan’ (and associated abatements) for their ‘comrades’ without representing residents or facilitating desired growth in locations that are appropriate.

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