After months of hearings and examining evidence, the Enfield Planning and Zoning Commission voted down the application for a text change to regulations allowing a Highway Services Zone [HSZ]. The controversial application was made by Love's Travel Stops in an effort to bring a truck stop to the town.
With an August 5, 2011 deadline looming for the decision, the commission moved and approved 19 separate changes to the application before voting by a 5-2 margin to deny the application. The amendments amounted to a “death by a thousand cuts” for the proposed Highway Services Zone, as none of the dozen or so properties identified as potential sites under the applicant's language would qualify for the zone with the amendments.
The most difficult of the regulations for properties to meet was the increase in distance from residential properties from 400 feet to 1000 feet as well as the proposed distances from existing gas pumps.
Director of Planning Jose Giner said, “Just as an observation, and it's not an editorial comment, if you do approve the application with the amendments as presented, all those properties on Exhibit 12, I don't think any of them would qualify.”
He further said that he believed it would be a mistake to approve a new regulation that did not have any applicable properties, and suggested if a zone of a similar type were desired by the commission, they should write up a proposal and go through the hearing process.
The two dissenting commissioners, Peter Falk and Charles Ladd, noted they believed the zone was a good idea in principle. Ladd added that he would rather have a zone in place on the town's terms, rather than be subject to a State imposed highway stop.
“I am a little nervous about not having [an HSZ] because the State could come in and put whatever they want,” commissioner Ladd said, “they have tried twice already.
Prior public hearings on the proposed text change drew significant crowds with most of the people speaking against the new zone. Residents cited numerous environmental, quality of life, and neighborhood issues as the source of opposition the the application. Last evening's meeting was not as well attended, but those in the audience were pleased at the commission's decision.
In other business, the commission approved the application of the Town of Enfield for a reconfiguration of the parking lot, addition of a storage building, and siting of a press box at the Enfield High School athletic facilities.
The application of Joseph Lanzieri was also approved for a wholesale fish distribution business located at 463 Taylor Rd over the objections of neighbors concerned about possible malodorous conditions.