Zoning amendment on historic overlay zone denied
By Elaine Jones
By a vote of 5–1, with one member not in attendance, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to deny without prejudice an amendment to the Zoning Regulations that would have allowed, through a Special Hearing format, the possibility of an application for a restaurant at 261 Salmon Brook Street. Commission members were divided on the issue, resulting in an invitation to residents to attend a special meeting to express their views.
The issue is that the property lies within the Granby Center Historic Overlay Zone that prohibits retail use, restaurants and commercial services. The amendment would apply to all of the Center Zone. It would eliminate the prohibition and allow for Special Permit applications that give the commission the authority and ability to place conditions on any proposal brought before it. At public hearing on Jan. 13, town residents spoke against the concept citing the danger of losing the Center’s historic integrity.
At the Feb. 10 meeting, commission chairwoman Paula Johnson, and members Eric Lukingbeal and Linda Spevacek said they did not have enough information or input from town residents. They were concerned about the strength or vulnerability of the Special Permit format. They also voiced a concern that, if approved but not successful as a commercial enterprise, other use could be made of the property. Another concern was the number of commercial activities that could dominate Granby Center and possibly eliminate current housing.
Member Mark Lockwood was in favor of the amendment. He said it would provide an application opportunity and process that would be constrained by a well-crafted and thorough Special Permit process that would delineate exactly what the developer could and could not do. He believes that the current Plan of Development includes commercial growth that would provide more services to Granby residents.
Member Jim Sansone agreed on the value of more citizen input, but urged the commission to include in the group people who have preconceived ideas about the town’s future, a member of the Economic Development Commission, business owners, Historical Society representation, a representative from town boards and commissions, and local property owners. He also urged the input sessions be held soon and of short duration to allow the commission to sift through the information, discuss the issue, and come to a decision.