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Monroe Gas Station Battle Heads to Court

Stop & Shop's plan for a five-bay gas station on Main Street is still before the Planning & Zoning Commission, but a ZBA decision in its favor has been appealed in court.

Stop & Shop wants to construct a five-bay gas station with 10 pumps and a kiosk to provide discounts to its supermarket's card-carrying customers. It would be built on vacant property at 528 Monroe Turnpike — right next to a Shell station owned by Bernard Prushko, who won't allow it without a fight.

The proposal won Inland Wetlands and Zoning Board of Appeals approvals and is now before the Planning & Zoning Commission. Prushko is suing the ZBA and the applicant, Monroe Gas, LLC, to overturn the ZBA's decision.

In the lawsuit, filed at Superior Court in Bridgeport by Attorney Keith Ainsworth on Dec. 13, B&J Realty Corporation is named as the plaintiff. The Secretary of the State's website lists Prushko as president of B&J and his wife, Julie, as secretary.

The Monroe Zoning Board of Appeals decided to permit a retail gasoline fueling facility at 528 Monroe Turnpike by a vote of 3-2 on Nov. 19.

According to the lawsuit, "B&J will be substantially and adversely affected by the actions" of the ZBA.

The proposed facility will "increase traffic and decrease traffic safety by reducing traffic turning lane storage capacity and increasing congestion directly adjacent to and in front of B&J's property, thereby making entry and exit from the property less safe which will turn into a decrease in property value," the suit claims.

B&J contends that the 3-2 approval by the ZBA is not legal because of violation of Connecticut General Statute 8-7, which states, "the concurring vote of four members of the zoning board of appeals shall be necessary to ... decide in favor of the applicant in any matter upon which it is required to pass under a bylaw, ordinance, rule or regulation ..."

"The Commission's approval of the Application was invalid and/or illegal under existing law in that insufficient votes were rendered in favor for the Board to approve the Application," the lawsuit says.

The suit claims the ZBA's actions were "arbitrary and capricious" in that it failed to apply to correct standard in its own Zoning Code section 117-3003, because "the Board Chair specifically instructed the members during deliberations that environmental issues were beyond its authority and that only traffic safety was to be considered, despite the fact that the Monroe Zoning Code section 117-3303 specifically requires that 'in acting under such applications [under 14-321] the Zoning Board of Appeals shall consider the relationship of the proposed use or operation with respect to schools, churches, theaters, playhouses or other places of public gathering; traffic conditions, intersecting streets, width of highway, and effect on public travel, and in general, that such use at such proposed location will not imperil the safety and welfare of the public, or have a detrimental effect on the value of nearby properties or development thereof."

The suit concludes, "The Board impermissibly failed to consider potential impacts of the proposed gasoline fueling station on nearby drinking water aquifers and surface water supplies, substantial evidence of which presented to the Board, declaring that it was not within their jurisdiction.

"As a result of the foregoing, the rights of the Plaintiff were abrogated by the Board, the Board's decision was arbitrary, capricious and in violation of law and the decision should be overturned by the Court."

Big Boy December 29, 2012 at 12:39 AM
If prices are kept reasonable and competitive, no one would go out of business even if S&S comes to town. Just as no liquor stores have gone out of business despite the change in blue laws. Keep your prices below S&S prices and drive them out of town! Don't place the blame on others. S&S wouldn't want to come here if there wasn't a market for their gas business, but when there is an opportunity to offer their business at a lower price....the very people complaining about S&S are the ones who have created the environment for the opportunity for S&S to come here.
Jim beam December 29, 2012 at 02:19 PM
BB: You don't get it. Our opposition is not about gas prices. This is about property values, maintaining the character of our town, and not creating a stretch of road that becomes a traffic nightmare. If four gas station in a 3/10 of a mile stretch are not enough for you then what about seven gas stations? What about ten stations? The point is that there are plenty of places to redeem your S&S gas discounts; one of them being 111 Monroe Tpke. You're gonna have to explain to me how I "created the environment for the opportunity for Stop & Shop to come to" town. I'm not quite sure how you determined that one. In my travels to and from work, shopping, etc., I have plenty of alternatives for choosing a gas station, some more expensive, some less. In fact, 111 Monroe is 1 and 3/4 miles from the property in question. If that's not close enough for you BB, let's just put it in your back yard. Would that be close enough? Those seeking lower gas prices have other nearby alternatives. Their unwillingness to acknowledge this fact is what is most frustrating.
lmf59 December 29, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Sure, let's put a 5 bay gas super-station right smack in the middle of the busiest stretch of road in this part of town. Because there isn't already a rediculous amount of traffic in this area....this residential area. And then lets add another bank and pizza place. So much for "small town" Monroe.
Walt December 29, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Mr Beam, respectfully, having a modern gas station with lower prices on an already busy roadway IS NOT GOING TO LOWER ANY PROPERTY VALUES! Stop with that red herring already. I avoid this stretch of road as much as I can on weekends because nimby anti-development people have blocked widening the road to match trumbulls stretch of 111. This is a commercial corridor with a couple of houses remaining. It should be developed. The REAL issue is putting sewers in on our commercial corridors and then you'd see some real development. Look at Trumbull. Every commercial area in town is on their borders with other towns. Brilliant. We need commercial development to offset Res taxes and a lawyers office is not going to add any more to the tax base than this gas station would, maybe less. Keep blocking anything and everything and see where you taxes go.
Jim beam December 29, 2012 at 04:26 PM
You make my point perfectly for me. "I avoid this stretch of road as much as I can on weekends..." Of course you do. It's a traffic nightmare. More people then drive on Elm Street, Cutler's Farm Road, Cross Hill Road, and Moose Hill Road. Those streets are not meant for thru-traffic and will subsequently bear greater traffic burdens and higher maintenance costs. Homes on those roads will see values degrade because their residential character will diminish. An office will certainly add more to the tax base because the value of the building on the land will be higher than a kiosk and gas tanks. Additionally, the type of jobs associated with either of the alternatives is superior with a professional office. The gas station brings only part-time minimum wage jobs most likely staffed by out of town workers. You mischaracterize my opposition. I am not trying to block "anything and everything". A fifth gas station in a 3/10 th of a mile stretch is not the type of development that will attract other businesses to this town. In fact, it is likely to discourage further reputable development. You shout, that this project "IS NOT GOING TO LOWER ANY PROPERTY VALUES!" If you were buying a home, would you choose to locate in such close proximation to this congested corridor or buy a home in a more bucolic setting? Most would choose the latter. You seem to believe that any and all development is good. I don't settle so easily. I believe that wise planning brings better results.
the situation December 29, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Walt, As previously stated, S&S proposed a 160 sq. ft. building. You said earlier that, "a lawyers office is not going to add any more to the tax base than this gas station would, maybe less". Do you really think that a lawyers office would potentially build a building that is equal to or less than 160 sq. ft.???
Walt December 29, 2012 at 07:15 PM
The property tax is not based solely on the square footage of a building but the value of everything there on. Jim, I certainly would not buy a house on a commercial zoned area. Many years ago when I was looking to buy I was shown a house on Pepper street. I did not want to be near a commercial zone and looked elsewhere. With or without that station going in I would not buy on 111.
Big Boy December 29, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Our "wise planning" has brought us very little in "better results" in the many years living here. We continue to have acres of vacant brush filled land, paying no taxes in commercially zoned areas. Or run down, abandoned buildings as is the case with the old Stevenson Lumberyard at the "gateway to Monroe". We need to widen 111, to ease the traffic and congestion and continue the development of 111 as Trumbull has. I have lived here for 20+ years and had the opportunity to live in Trumbull, but chose twice to live in Monroe instead. Big Y ran Walter Stewarts and Grand Union out of town, but that didn't seem to bother any of the town folks. I was a Real Estate Agent before deciding to raise my children instead. Wilton was in a similar situation before widening their Main Street. The stretch of road from the Merritt to Orems Diner was a mess. The town developed that section nicely since choosing to widen that roadway. Without declining property values, I might add. If you purchased a home near Route 111 and didn't believe the road would ever be widened or thought fighting the widening of it was the better plan, then that seems to be your plan now. No gas stations are open after 10:00pm nor are they open before 6:00am. Why can't we buy gas 24/7? If you have a gas card or a credit/debit card you should be able to buy gas anytime in this town. I hope this new station will have that option.
Johnny Walker December 29, 2012 at 07:57 PM
This gas station will be open the same hours as Stop and Shop. Is Stop and Shop open 24 hours?
Jim beam December 29, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Gee, so now we're proposing widening Rte 111. How much is that going to cost and who is going to pay for that? How long is this project going to take? Ten years? Twenty years? And if we're widening 111, then why go ahead with this project since considerable acreage will be required to be taken through eminent domain? The hours for the proposed station will be the same as Stop & Shop - 7:00 AM to Hours of operation would be 10:00 PM, Monday thru Saturday and 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, on Saturday. Since you appear to need the opportunity to buy gas 24/7, I suggest one of the Milford truck stops. You probably pass them quite often with all the extensive travel that you do which requires round the clock ability to purchase gas.
Jim beam December 29, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Then I guess you understand how unfettered, haphazard development which exacerbates traffic congestion can have a negative impact on residential property values in neighboring areas.
the situation December 29, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Walt- A building up 7,500 sq. ft. was already approved for property. There is no way that a 160 sq. ft S&S kiosk plus 5 pumps would bring in higher tax revenue.
D. Sickles December 30, 2012 at 04:51 AM
Look at who owns the property for sale - Sippin. Someone who contributes very kindly to the Republican party. There should be no mystery on how the Republican controlled P&Z will vote. This whole argument is a joke, the outcome is no mystery.
Big Boy December 31, 2012 at 01:25 PM
While leaving early for a vacation, either an extended one or a short day trip, there have been many times leaving town or on my way back into town that I arrive very late or leave very early in the morning. Well before or after the current gas stations are open. We have vacationed in smaller towns to the south or north of Monroe, in a different state, where purchasing gas is available 24/7.
Laura December 31, 2012 at 03:10 PM
Monroe has never had 24/7 gas...if you know you are going away - you should have prepared for that situation the day before anyway...111 is an eye sore now...little strip malls with no connectivity...banks, delis. pizza places galore...no sewers - no thought. I have a business in mind that would there - I will be submitting plans - not sharing at this time. And yes - Republican run P&Z - its like Wash DC & Congress - we're not going to get anywhere - we all can bellyache as much as we want and someone else is going to get their way. Oh and the Round-about...that should add to the confusion.
Jim beam December 31, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I guess you know very little about business. Do you think that there is that much demand for gas 24/7 in Monroe that a station owner would incur the expenses associated with keeping the station open for those incremental sales? You're delusiona and do not understand the profit motivel. Prepare better or fuel up in those stations that are open. So, for those few times that you've been unprepared for your trip, a station owner has to lose money to serve you and the town has to have neon lights burning all night long. I have a suggestion for you, BB. Move.
Walt December 31, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Hey Jimbo, I just went to stop and shop and I have 816 points! I'll fill up for 2,77 a gallon today, save around 12 bucks, not bad. But I,ve got to go to Ansonia to get it. JB, you left out that I avoid 111 because it has not been widened as it was in Trumbull. Look at all the development just across the town line! We have zoned commercial areas in town which should be developed as such, otherwise monroe will always be podunk with ever increasing taxes on residential properties. You talk about Easton and Weston, why don't you move there?
Johnny Walker December 31, 2012 at 04:33 PM
So you spent $816 to save $12? You sound like the type of person who brags about getting to stay a night for free at the casino, even though they lost $10,000 just to get that free night.
Johnny Walker December 31, 2012 at 04:43 PM
And why would you drive to Ansonia to use your points? Knechts Shell on rt. 111 takes Stop and Shop cards already!
jim laguardia December 31, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Wait are you guys/girls actually playing the "why don't you move" card over a gas station?? Really?? What is this 2nd grade? It is a gas station for petes sake...
Jim beam December 31, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Stop & Shop provides gas points because the gas is a "loss leader" for them. You pay higher prices for groceries and other items at S&S because that's what pays for your gas discounts. It's simple business economics. I save my money on my grocery bill. I know I come out ahead when I add it all up and evaluate my options. Besides your "discounted" gas is available at 111 Monroe Tpke so ther should be no problem. The widening of Rte 111 will cost how much? Who will pay? The state seems incapable of funding such a project given it's financial circumstances.. The land taken through eminent domain from businesses alongside Rte 111 will certainly cause the gas station project to then become unsustainable. The construction and eminent domain costs to widen this road are astronomical and funds are available nowhere. The widening of Rte 111 will not happen because the funds for such a project are nowhere to be found.
Walt December 31, 2012 at 06:20 PM
I shop there anyway, I get the points. Have you looked at the prices at knechts? Way higher than anyone elses to begin with, 3.70 today. OK, I get it, you're all part of the 1% that doesn't mind paying through the nose for everything. Keep defending the grumpy gas station guy who by the way, has the highest propane prices around too.
Johnny Walker December 31, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Well Walt, if you're so concerned about prices than obviously you won't even buy gas at Stop and Shop's Monroe gas station because the gas prices at S&S Monroe will be higher than the gas prices at S&S Ansonia...so just keep doing what you already do and buy your gas there.
Walt December 31, 2012 at 11:29 PM
You all don't care about anything other than maintaining your backwards bucolic bedroom community hayseed stuck in time life. Let all the surrounding towns eat your lunch with development while your taxes rise exponentially and you're able to say you live in snobroe. "Look! We have a laywers office!" Get real you fools, look at what Trumbull has done on the borders of monroe, while you protect your silly little turf from any and all development. Keep up the nimby attitude and when your taxes are north of 20K a year and you're moaning why you might remember how you opposed any and all development that you did not "approve" of.
Jim beam January 01, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Walt, Walt, Walt. Just throw epithets instead of making a cogent argument. You still haven't responded to the issue of financing for your fantasy for a Rte 111 super highway. Delusion is sad to observe and certainly unresponsive to logical discussion. Enjoy your high S&S grocery prices and "discounted" gas. Your eagerness to turn Monroe into Main St., Bridgeport is rather misguided and appears to be an opinion you hold alone.
Paul Sobel January 01, 2013 at 01:09 AM
Zoning is not about restricting competition. If a zone allows a certain type of business, anyone is entitled to a permit to build a building for that type of business and operate the business, as long as the building complies with lot size, setback, height, coverage and whatever other standards are specified for the zone. The argument has been made before about not approving another pizza store because we have enough, etc. The planning & zoning commission does not have the power or right to not approve something because we already have enough of this or that. Further, if the planning & zoning attempts to deny an application for an improper reason, we wind up paying for legal fees to defend a losing position, and a property owner is also denied the right to use his or her land in a permitted manner. There is also the issue of property rights. What would the comment be if one poster or another owned a piece of property, had a legal right to construct a building on it, had a tenant who was going to pay rent or a buyer who was going to purchase contingent on issuance of a permit to use the property in a manner that is permitted under the zoning regulations, only to have the goverment attempt to deny the owner his or her legal right to use his or her property in a manner permitted in the zone?
Alex January 01, 2013 at 01:44 AM
The point is, we wouldn't have to drive to Ansonia or Milford to get the discounted S&S gas. Sure it will be cheaper in those towns still, but I'd only get gas there when I knew I had to go up there anyways. Nowadays, I get by grabbing 10 - $15 worth in town, and make a plan to fill up on the weekend or whenever when I'm in the cheaper areas. If this station came to town, I'd likely fill my tank in town instead of elsewhere.
Citizen January 03, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Thank you Mr. Sobel for explaining that to the uninformed. It's not the Town's decision about what gets built on a particular piece of property, it's the property owner's decision. If someone wants to put in a pizza place, nail salon, gas station or any other type of business that is permitted in that zone, that is their right as a property owner.
Clark W. Griswold January 03, 2013 at 03:22 PM
So most of you would prefer an empty overgrown property right in the middle of town? I keep hearing it could be used for so many better things yet for years it has sat there with no one interested in developing it. Finally a multi-million dollar company wants to develop it and offer cheap gas to its loyal customers and the town is up in arms. Enjoy the Mom and Pop stores that have and will continue to overcharge you.
lmf59 January 06, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Perhaps you should fill your tank the night before leaving on your early morning trip, and again before you return to Monroe. Maybe even "in the smaller towns to the south or north of Monroe, or in a different state where purchasing gas is available 24/7". I would prefer that the immediate vicinity of my RESIDENTIAL neighborhood not be degraded and imposed on any further by the absurd addition of a multi-pump-mega-gas-station just because you can't plan ahead for your vacations.

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