MONROE, CT — A developer envisions a gas station/convenience store with a drive-thru and two tenants in a newly constructed building at 846 Main St. that will not have a significant impact on traffic at the corner of the busy intersection of Route 25 and Pepper Street.
On Thursday night, Joseph Voves, president of Church Hill Classics, which is behind the site, told the Planning and Zoning Commission he believes the applicant for the special exception permit made a “flowery” presentation full of “candy canes and bubble gum.”
“I just foresee this as some pie in the sky dreaming here,” Voves said. “‘Oh your employees will love to get a cup of coffee on the way to work.’ I just see this as a traffic problem at the intersection.”
He also noted how many residents, already frustrated by years of construction on Pepper Street, would have to put up with yet another disruption if the gas station/convenience store is built on the vacant property at the corner of the intersection — near Tollgate Plaza.
Luke Mauro, senior project manager of Solli Engineering, which is representing the applicant, Three D Realty LLC, said they submitted a traffic study to the Connecticut Department of Transportation as part of their analysis.
While there would be queueing during the busiest hours, Mauro said there would be no significant difference in how the intersection at Main (Route 25) and Pepper streets operates.
“We don’t expect much of an impact from traffic,” he said. “This is subject to review from DOT. I’m sure they will go over everything with a fine tooth comb.”
Matt Baldino, assistant project manager with Solli Engineering, pointed out that most drivers stop at a gas station while on their way to another destination. “Usually that traffic is already in the road network. It’s just stopping here,” he said.
The site at 846 Main St. would have driveways from Pepper Street and Route 25.
Leon Ambrosey, a commissioner, asked if drivers could enter and exit from the driveway on Route 25. Baldino said there would be a left and a right turn lane.
“I have concerns about it being both ways, especially since it’s so close to the traffic light,” Ambrosey said.
He also asked about the turn radius for tanker trucks delivering fuel to the gas station. Baldino said that information is included in the engineering report.
Commissioner Robert Westlund asked if the gas station would sell diesel and was told it would. He said traffic backs up at stations with diesel due to the demand, so offering it at a new gas station too would be a plus.
From the front of the 2,844-square-foot building, a tenant with a drive-thru would occupy space on the left and the convenience store would take up space to the right. The hours of the businesses would be 5 a.m. to midnight.
While the two building tenants have yet to be determined, The RoadRunners would operate the gas station with 12 fueling positions. Hussnain Gondal, managing director at The RoadRunners, said the company has gas stations in Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
During the public comment period, Voves asked if there should be environmental concerns for his 9.1-acre-property due to its close proximity with the underground fuel tank that is proposed.
Gondal said their gas stations have double wall fiber glass tanks. If gasoline leaks from the first wall, an alarm between that and the second wall goes off, he said, and if the second wall is breached, the owner would know by the end of the day due to daily monitoring.
While he could not say it never happened before, Gondal told the commission these tanks are “considered foolproof” and he is unaware of any spills from this kind of fuel tank over the past 15 years.
Gondal said The RoadRunners follows Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection standards and the site’s stormwater drainage system would include catch basins and a well water separator.
If there was a spill, Ambrosey asked how many gallons the tank holds. Mauro said he did not know, but added there is a shutoff valve, so a spill would not be “gallons and gallons and gallons.”
The applicant is not proposing any outdoor storage on the site.
Nicole Lupo, a commission alternate, asked if there was any thought to having a crosswalk leading to Tollgate Plaza next door. Lupo said she could see girls from the dance school there crossing the street to buy something from the convenience store.
Mauro said allowing a crosswalk would be at the discretion of the DOT, because Route 25 is a state road.
Baldino said his client is currently not proposing sidewalks, but Secretary Ryan Condon said sidewalks may be a good idea with the bike path nearby.
During the hearing, Baldino said there is no wetlands on the property, so only Planning and Zoning Commission approval is needed from the town.
He said his client is willing to have stone-wrapped columns for the canopy over the fueling pumps and is open to town engineering comments being included as conditions of approval.
Rick Schultz, the planning and zoning administrator, recommended that the hearing be continued to June 1, so town staff can talk to the fire marshal, the police department and Voves.
The commission agreed to continue the hearing.
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