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Plans in the Works for a Shopping Center on Main Street

A developer wants to construct a shopping center across from Clock Tower Square on Main Street.

A developer wants to build "Cross Roads Center", a 13,540 square-foot shopping center with associated parking on Main Street, across from Clock Tower Square. Jay Keillor, the engineer for the applicant, says there have already been discussions with the owners of Peter's Bridge Market, a popular health food store and deli in Westport, about its leasing a large space in the new Monroe building.

Representatives of JV464 Main Street, LLC, came before the Inland Wetlands Commission for a public hearing last Wednesday, but immediately asked that it be continued to January.

"We did not have a chance to meet with Scott to review this report with him," Keillor said of Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein.

He added that Cristine Gangi, who owns a house on Hubbell Drive, just 50 feet from the property, did not receive notification of the hearing by certified mail because she lives in Weston.

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Gangi, who attended the hearing, expressed concern over how the development would affect her property, which she has been trying to sell.

JV464 Main Street, LLC, lists John Chaves as a principal and attorney Raymond Rizio as the agent. The application involves 2.25 acres from four parcels at 462, 464, 466 and 470 Main Street. The land is just north of the Hill 'N Dale Mobil station on Route 25.

"That was a junky area, basically filled with tires," Keillor said of the applicant's property. "Basically, it was a dumping ground."

Though the applicant will be coming back before the commission in January, Keillor made a presentation to "show the big picture."

The property has a man-made pond. Bill Kenny of William Kenny Associates ecological services, who was hired by the applicant, said the pond has "no significant wetland impact there or ponding — anything that would lead to diversity of habitat."

He said the soils are sandy and do not retain water well. As a result, the level of the pond rises and falls by three to four feet, according to Kenny, who called it "a very poor habitat for aquatic species."

The developer wants to fill in the one-tenth-of-an-acre of existing wetlands and create a new more viable wetlands area on the site.

Kenny said a diversity of hydraulic conditions and interaction with plant life will create living conditions for aquatic insects, birds and snakes.

Commissioner Lois Spence said, "It doesn't look like a wetland to me. It looks like a larger storm water basin."

Commissioner Michael Muttitt said he wants to see the new design for the pond flow when the hearing is continued.

Keillor said he doesn't think the Monroe Inland Wetlands Commission has ever had an application before it proposing to recreate a wetlands area.

"We did The Home Depot in Trumbull and they approved the filling in of one acre of wetlands," he said. "They were willing to sacrifice that wetland for the benefit of the town."

Monroe's Inland Wetlands Commissioners asked Keillor to keep the focus on his Monroe plan.

'The Disappearing Pipe'

The shopping center needs a 2,000 gallon septic tank. Offsite drainage comes from the north and Keillor said the front and rear of the property would both have a grass swale.

About 85% of the total suspended solids would be removed as water works its way through the drainage system, according to Keillor, who said drainage would ultimately go into the pond.

There would be zero increases in runoff during storms of 1 to 100 years, Keillor said, adding it was important to reduce the flows so it is significantly less than pre-construction, because of an existing pipe coming from the pond. The applicant has been unable to determine where the water from the pipe discharges.

Commissioner Cathy Kohut wants more information on "the mysterious pipe."

Schatzlein said he is working with the nearby gas station while looking into information on where the pipe leads. "It's good for their sake as well to know where that pipe goes," he said.

Gangi said, "The disappearing pipe goes under my driveway."

The flow with the development would be 9 cubic feet per second and the drainage system will be able to handle 11 CFS, according to Keillor.

Kohut said, "Significant reports show the 100-year storm is no longer a viable measure. Unfortunately, you're using the 100-year storm."

"If Scott wants us to use a more intense rainfall, we can do that," Keillor said of Schatzlein.

'A Past Violation'

Kohut asked if there would be substantial cuts into the hillside and Chairman Jeremy Hayden asked Keillor if he anticipates any blasting.

"We don't anticipate it, but there may be minimal blasting on the left hand side," Keillor replied.

Keillor said a foot-and-a-half would be cut into the ledge on the left side of the building. "It's more of a fill-in operation than a cut operation," he said, adding that over 8,000 yards of fill would be trucked in to the site.

Spence brought up the fact that there was a past wetlands violation on the property. "We expected some remediation of that area, not filling," she said.

Spence asked Kenny if he could tell the commission the functionality of drainage on the site if the wetlands are not filled in. Kenny said his study is based on how the wetlands are now, adding he thought the past violation was resolved.

Schatzlein explained that the wetlands had been filled in and impacted and the commission had wanted it remediated. There was discussion with the property owners and it was decided that the land records would be changed to inform the next property owner that remediation needed to be done before a new development could be built, according to Schatzlein.

'The Whole Area Turns into Mud'

When asked why the development is not built to avoid the existing wetlands, John Guedes, the architect for the project, said his client wants the building to face Main Street.

Schatzlein said he can sit down with the applicants and try to come up with something more to the committee's liking before the continued hearing next month.

Cristine Gangi also had a chance to speak last Wednesday. She noted that there were no comments about the application from the Trumbull-Monroe Health District or the Conservation Commission.

While Keillor focused on "the big picture", Gangi said, "In the smaller picture, the house will be overlooking a drainage ditch and a parking lot. I'm having trouble selling it."

Gangi said there is so much storm runoff on the property at times, that the whole area turns into mud.

"When there's a lot of snowfall it's crazy how much water comes down the hill," she said. "I think the drainage issues are far greater than these guys are thinking. I lived on that property. We've seen the mud. It's crazy, the drainage off that hill."

Gerald M. Gaynor December 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Regardless of one's opinion on the Town's need for another shopping center, it would seem that we have once again bumped up against our need to install sanitary sewers…
Alex December 11, 2012 at 01:55 PM
That side of main street is an eye sore. Nothing but old cars (for sale?) and trash. If anything that's hurting Ms. Gangi's property value. Some of the comments from the wetland commission have me concerned, they are not being pragmatic at all.
jim laguardia December 11, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Hey maybe that mysterious pipe is so long that it is the same one that is being disputed over on Fan Hill??
Stephanie G December 11, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Jim - I was thinking the same thing!! ;)
Forma Bosse December 11, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Rt. 25 is going to start looking like the Post Road in Milford and Orange.
New Kid in Town December 11, 2012 at 09:48 PM
I hope this does not happen! There is plenty of retail space available in this town! I see the sign all over!! Also just a comment about Peter's Bridge Market..It has not been in business for a few years now...and it was in NO WAY a healthfood store and Deli...It was a market and was a really good deli back in the day, but towards the end had changed a bit...if the old orginal owners are looking to get into Monroe...I say come on in!, but find another shopping center that is already existing!
Christine E. December 11, 2012 at 11:53 PM
"find another shopping center that is already existing". Maybe if the landlords of these shopping strips actually kept their properties looking appealing to business owners, people would rent their spaces. There is no sense in opening a new business in a shopping plaza that isn't maintained and, to make matters worse, have limited visibility to shoppers. No one wants to open a business in a ghost-town of a shopping center unless a large anchor store moves in to make the plaza busy.
Maria December 12, 2012 at 12:14 AM
If they're going to bring in more retail stores, why can't we get a Trader Joes, an Aldi, a Dollar Tree in town so that we don't have to drive 30 minutes in either direction to get to one? Especially an Aldi so that we can have a much more inexpensive alternative to Stop & Shop & Big Y. I save at least 50% when I shop there. I also suggest a different location as the traffic is already horrific in the area suggested.
Christine E. December 12, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Funny, there was a dollar store in the bug y plaza that went in and closed down rather quickly. The dollar atore in newtown also went out if business. Something tells me that if the demand was really that high for a dollar store, the two in the area would have survived.
Karen123 December 12, 2012 at 01:15 PM
How about a Target?
Laura December 12, 2012 at 01:39 PM
The rent was too much - the renters could not afford the increases - that's why the Dollar stores went out - they were shopped - but they couldn't afford the rent...
jim laguardia December 12, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Craft store
Christine E. December 12, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Really? Where did you hear that? Did these people only sign a 1 year commercial lease? did they not know that the rent could go up when their lease expired? If the Dollar Store was shopped and 'needed' as you say it was, then why did they not relocate the business when their lease expired instead of closing shop?
Christine E. December 12, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I love how people make suggestions on what we 'need' or what developers 'should put in', but no one seems to recognize that these corporations that you wish for need to want to be here. It all sounds so easy. Build it and they will come! Not so much.
Laura December 12, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I spoke to the people involved - it was a surprise to the gal who ran the Dollar Store in Sand Hill Plaza and I talked to the guy at the Dollar Store up in Big Y - he said he couldn't pay what they wanted... - Christine E - you need to jump down off your HIGH HORSE...
Christine E. December 12, 2012 at 08:56 PM
It isn't a high-horse. How is a rent increase shocking? They can't change your rent while you're in the midst of a lease unless you signed a lease that says they could. Once a lease expires, it's up for renegotiation. If a landlord should choose to up the rent, it's not terribly shocking at all. Happens all the time. Especially if your rent hasn't changed raised in 5+ years. As for large commercial businesses, it's logic. We have no sanitary sewers to attract large enough developments for big box retailers. We also do not have the market to sustain these businesses. There are two targets accessible to Monroe residents. One at the Trumbull Mall, one on Hawley Lane. Knowing that people from Monroe already go to these Targets, and that Newtown residents go to the one in Danbury....would they stick a Target in between? Probably not. My point was, I just think it's funny how people say "we should have" or "someone should put in" without thinking about the fact that Monroe is not an attractive business venture. I certainly wouldn't put up any of my own capital to open a business here. Nevermind the taxes :)
Joyce Erickson December 15, 2012 at 01:09 AM
There are way too many vacant, for rent sites all along Rt. 25. Maybe a few thousand of those should get rented before another unsightly For Rent development is allowed.

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