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.