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Zoning Commission Settles Appeal

LLC filed in 2010 after commission denied an application to add a bank and retail space in Farmington center.

Zoning Commission Settles Appeal

The Farmington Town Plan and Zoning Commission approved a settlement agreement with One Waterville Road LLC recently regarding a special permit and site plan application for a project covering 820-830 Farmington Ave.

The Town Plan and Zoning Commission denied the application for two new buildings, a drive-through TD Bank and modifications to the historic Woodford Newell Strong house by a 3-3 vote on June 22, 2010. The LLC appealed the decision.

Objections to the plan centered around traffic, according to commission Chairman Phil Dunn and minutes from the 2010 meeting. Then-Chairman Skip Pogson, Dunn and Bill Stanford, all Republicans, voted against the application.

The commissioners expressed concern that the bank would generate additional traffic, adding stress to the already congested area and that traffic turning into the bank would impede traffic flow on Route 4.

The entrance to the bank would line up near Garden Street, where cars already stack up several times throughout the day. The applicant’s traffic engineer proposed a rephasing of the light.

“One factor was the volume of traffic at the intersection, which the engineer admitted is one of the worst in the state,” Dunn said.

He also raised questions about the credibility of the traffic engineer giving testimony on the plan.

The agreement approved by the commission Feb. 22 allows for the LLC to continue with a scaled-back version of the original application. The project still awaits a ruling on pending litigation with the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

“They’ve reduced the scope of the project and traffic counts have gone down significantly from what was originally proposed,” said Town Planner Jeffrey Ollendorf.

According to the plans, a nearly 3,000-square-foot TD Bank with a freestanding canopied drive-through would be built at 820 Farmington Ave., where and are currently. Those businesses would be housed in a mixed-use retail space within the existing building on the corner of Waterville Road and Farmington Avenue.

Additions built on to that building would be removed and a 1,776-square-foot, one-story retail building would be constructed behind it. Those buildings would have access from Waterville Road. The bank and retail buildings would connect to each other but not to the neighboring plaza housing Starbucks.

If constructed, Ollendorf said, the TD Bank building would be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building - a green energy designation - in Farmington.

The Woodford Newell Strong house has sat vacant for several years and was for a few months in 2011.

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