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Monroe P&Z Narrowly Approves 'Walmart'

P&Z Commissioners, from left, Brian Quinn, James Weinberg and Chairman Patrick O'Hara, look over a map to see where a fence can go.
P&Z Commissioners, from left, Brian Quinn, James Weinberg and Chairman Patrick O'Hara, look over a map to see where a fence can go.
A special permit application for a large retail store being proposed at 2 Victoria Drive in Monroe was narrowly approved by the Monroe Planning & Zoning Commission with conditions Thursday night.

Many believe the tenant for the 160,942-square-foot store will be the retail giant Walmart, but the applicant, Kimball Land Holdings LLC, declined to say so in the application and during the public hearing. However, during the first part of the hearing, architect Gabriel Massa said "Walmart" before quickly catching himself.

P&Z Chairman Patrick O'Hara alluded to how much of the testimony in opposition came from residents against Walmart. Then he explained how commissioners must vote on whether an application meets Monroe's zoning regulations — not on who is applying or would be the tenant.

O'Hara said it would be the same as the commission denying an application because it's for a Muslim church, adding a judge would overturn such a decision within 30 seconds.

"Speaking to whether something is appropriate based on the 'who' is not something I'm going to be engaged in," he said.

O'Hara said the retail application, which is proposed in an industrial zone, is in line with the regulations and subject to higher standards than in a designed business zone.

"I don’t have a problem approving this," he said. "I think the lot is zoned for what it's getting."

The permit was approved 3 to 2, with O'Hara, Vice Chairman William Porter and James Weinberg voting in favor of the application and Brian Quinn and Cathleen Lindstrom voting against it.

Lindstrom asked to make a statement explaining her "no" vote.

She said the commission is responsible to plan for the physical, social and economic well being of the town — not private developers. If commissioners believe the industrial property should be used for retail, Lindstrom said the P&Z should change the zone to commercial as part of the planning process. 

Lindstrom said a lot of townspeople are concerned over the size of the building being proposed. She criticized the commission for relying solely on the traffic study performed by the applicant's own experts, asking if commissioners would only listen to testimony from the tobacco industry if they wanted to know if cigarettes were good for them.

"We also didn't know the name of the user," Lindstrom said of the tenant. "I don't [ever] remember anyone saying, 'We're going to bring a business here, but we won't tell you what it is.'"

Among the conditions of approval, Quinn successfully pushed for an amendment to require Kimball Land Holdings LLC to build a fence along the boundary of residential properties. Another condition will be noise monitoring once the store opens.

Thomas Crafts January 24, 2014 at 11:08 AM
How is rt. 25 going to handle that kind of traffic??
Claudia Cooper January 25, 2014 at 07:46 AM
The experts paid for by the applicant said "don't worry about it." People, I'm not concerned about the "who," but I'm concerned about the "what." What will the added congestion do to 2-lane Rt. 25? What will surrounding residents do when they want to make a left-hand turn? What about the noise and smell of diesel trail trucks making deliveries late at night? What will $7 an hour jobs do for local youth? What local businesses will be shut down because they can't compete with Wal-Mart? What percentage of Wal-Mart products are made in USA?
Clare January 25, 2014 at 09:57 AM
Monroe might just as well be Stamford or Bridgeport now. Years ago it was a nice, quiet small town. It's a shame because it's the Planning and Zoning of every town that's supposed to guard against this kind of explosion of big commercial sights.
Wayne Addessi January 25, 2014 at 10:03 AM
There is a way for Newtown, Trumbull to appeal this decision to the courts. Both towns should appeal this decision. Naturally all the facts have to be reviewed. Not just because this is Walmart or any other super sized store for that matter. There us a place for Suoer sized stores as we all may know however many factors must be reviewed including traffic, sewer usage, economic impact and the handling and review of the commission and the applicants presentation.
Cheryl Lynne O January 26, 2014 at 05:02 AM
How is Route 25 going to handle the increased traffic? It's not a four lane road with turning lanes or the like. Walmart, and their developer, should be forced to pay all applicable impact fees That and Walmart does not even bring jobs worth applying for, $8.75 an hour in Connecticut and $7.50 elsewhere, tell them to keep their jobs and go to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. [ They already have stores there and pay $12.20 peso/$1.00 USD an hour.] Sewers? That too is an issue and, from what I know, like Southbury outside Heritage Village/ Traditions/STS, Monroe still does not have city sewers. Prior to our move to Newtown where they hadn't any sewers [ in 1974-85], as a child I lived on Long Island; in Baldwin where they had them. However, I watched as strip mall and dense development after one another overtook Merrick, Massapequa, all the way out toward Shirley-Mastic; faster than they could install sewers. Builders installing cesspools [ which often collapsed/caved in], by 1974, pollution from effluent overtook much of Great South Bay; rendering the clams unedible.
Claudia Cooper January 27, 2014 at 07:22 PM
I really feel they're trying to pull the wool over residents' eyes by not disclosing who the tenant is. Shame on P&Z for going along with them.
Ajack January 28, 2014 at 02:24 PM
P&Z works for the town , not the people. They are responsible for maintaining and growing a larger tax base to pay for their benefits, pay and retirement. Defacto rezoning is going on in every town , especially on the coast. Rip downs and McMansions on 1/4 to 1/2 acre lots. Got to keep the builder happy. Builder grows the tax base.Changes an entire neighborhood. Bitch about it and your concerns fall on deaf ears. They work for themselves and the politicians who need these tax dollars to 'do things to us'.

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