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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 was narrowly approved by the 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.

Gerald M. Gaynor January 24, 2014 at 07:16 AM
I guess we can now brace for a rash of sour grapes commentary accompanied by wailing and the gnashing of teeth. Soon our picture perfect Norman Rockwell farming community will be invaded by hordes of Morlocks and other undesirable elements from surrounding communities drawn across our pristine borders by the lure of discounted merchandise. Let the NIMBY games begin…
Vito Moscato January 24, 2014 at 09:10 AM
Gloat much?
felnik January 24, 2014 at 09:19 AM
http://winningargument.blogspot.com/2004/06/wal-mart-is-bad-for-america.html?m=1
felnik January 24, 2014 at 09:20 AM
http://walmart1percent.org/issues/top-reasons-the-walton-family-and-walmart-are-not-job-creators/
Gerald M. Gaynor January 24, 2014 at 09:33 AM
Since when is approving of an appropriate business decision and predicting whining from the usual suspects "gloating?" As to the anti-WalMart folks out there, no one is forcing you to shop there. Believe me, we get it. You don't like WalMart.
felnik January 24, 2014 at 09:36 AM
Maybe they're not saying the name so it will be like A Xmas surprise for the town . Soon I'll be able to walk to get my toxic Chinese child labor made shit And I won't have to deal With all these annoying family run small businesses in town anymore
Vito Moscato January 24, 2014 at 09:59 AM
I wasn't referring to you, Gerry. And I shop at Walmart.
Gerald M. Gaynor January 24, 2014 at 10:02 AM
My apologies Vito, your post followed mine; who was gloating?
Crown Royal January 24, 2014 at 10:37 AM
I am indifferent to this. I am glad the neighbors will get a fence built which should protect them from some of the light pollution.
Dawn January 24, 2014 at 10:41 AM
I shop occasionally at Walmart. I am more of a Target shopper. Either way, I would like to see something at that site. Lowe's would be good.
Bruce January 24, 2014 at 11:05 AM
I will be shopping there and look forward to those great Walmart prices. I hope this is a catalyst for more development in Monroe.
John R. January 24, 2014 at 11:26 AM
From my understanding, there will be several more "applications" coming for adjacent sites now that this has been approved. Those other ones were contingent on this one getting approved.
son of gun January 24, 2014 at 12:38 PM
How did we ever survive without Walmart? Oh, right...we could drive to Shelton...or just buy less stuff in general.
Bruce January 24, 2014 at 12:45 PM
John R - thanks for the info. That is good news.
Peg January 24, 2014 at 01:45 PM
Thank you Ms. Lindstrom for your thoughtful and intelligent remarks. I appreciate your representation.
Jim Sullivan January 24, 2014 at 05:37 PM
I shop in Wal-Mart’s and do not live in Monroe. If those who are opposed feel outgunned by Town officials, consultants, etc…, I recommend you google Sprawl-Busters. Al Norman will send you some information on how to organize. Those to afraid to even identify themselves really, really don’t like a fair fight.
Wayne Addessi January 24, 2014 at 08:16 PM
I also don't understand why there are only 5 commission members. In Ridgefield where my businesses are there are 9 members plus alternates. Monroe surely could have down zoned this area and restrict sizes of any one store. Talk about poor planning!! Wake up Town officials and residents that care and have a vested interest.
Alex January 24, 2014 at 09:50 PM
"Monroe surely could have down zoned this area and restrict sizes of any one store. " That is shortsighted thinking. If we ever, wanted to change that rule, Wal-Mart would sue our town for discrimination and very easily win. Haven't we had enough lawsuits already? I'm not a huge fan of Wal-Mart, but they sell products no other businesses sell in our area. I have to travel to Milford or Shelton for those items when I need them, so having one closer will help on gas for me personally and reduce our tax burden slightly for all. And who knows which other businesses will set up in that area now that there is an anchor store. We could be turning this vacant lot into a thriving retail center with this decision and that will benefit the majority of us.
Lani January 25, 2014 at 07:00 AM
Thank you to those commission members who understand their job. Ms. Lindstrom must want to know ethnicity and religious preferences of those buying the house next door too. That is what it equates to. Just as a home builder doesn't need to say who is buying them to build, neither does a developer if it meets zoning laws. This project does. Many a commercial space has been built without tenants.
Rapture January 25, 2014 at 01:41 PM
Thank you Ms. Lindstrom and Mr. Quinn for speaking on behalf of so many of us other residents that don't get a chance to voice their opinion. Keep up the hard work!
Wayne Addessi January 25, 2014 at 04:41 PM
Overall this is not solely about Walmart, any large monstrosity could be built without a clear vision and no planning. On its face, Thus appears to rest clearly on the back of the planning & zoning commission, the chamber of commerce and town business leaders for its shortsighted vision.

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