The Shelton Planning and Zoning Commission approved the application for a Goodwill to open at 397 Bridgeport Avenue next to the new Big Y.
P&Z Commissioner Virginia Harger said she did not feel the site is appropriate for the nonprofit so she was the lone member of the commission to not approve the application.
She said that in 2015 the commission was assured it would see high-quality tenants in the site. She also said the new Big Y will be an attraction for people, and other businesses are considering locating at the site. She believes Big Y does not fit the original goal of upscale businesses slated for the site.
“I think that we really have to think about this,” Harger said. “I had conversations with a couple of different people — one of them was management at Big Y. They said that their hearts sank when they heard a Goodwill is going in next door to them.”
Harger said Goodwill has 20 facilities in Connecticut, and that four are a 10-minute drive from Shelton. She suggested other sites in Shelton. She also said that according to
P&Z minutes, a previous chairman opposed Goodwill in upper Bridgeport Avenue because she
did not think the city of Shelton should give up economic development for a nonprofit use that pays no taxes.
Commissioner Elaine Matto did not object to having Goodwill at the plaza. She told Harger that the tenant does not pay taxes, but that it is the responsibility of the developer.
Commissioner Anthony Pagoda told Harger he would like to have an upscale clothing store at the site, but although the site is a PDD, the P&Z commission does not have control over what goes in the development, if it is within the appropriate regulations. However, Harger reiterated her opinion of the nonprofit locating at the site.
“I just think it downgrades what will be a very, very nice shopping center,” Harger said.
Mayor Mark Lauretti told the P&Z Commission that Oxford just put a Goodwill on Route 67, and he said it is a very attractive-looking building.
Commissioner Jimmy Tickey agreed with Harger on the location of Goodwill. He said that they are looking for something to go into the site on the “high end” as they were promised. He said he understands that it is within use of the site, but that residents want “high-end retail stores there.
Lauretti said that one issue the commission will face is the economy, and that there are only so many high-end businesses that will go into a site. He said what he sees going on in Connecticut is that growth is a reshuffling, and that businesses are consolidating and utilizing facilities that best fit their business needs and economic needs.
“We’d all like to see something more attractive than maybe a Goodwill, but at the end of the day, we want this plaza and development to succeed by being able to pay rent to the landlord,” Lauretti said.
Harger suggested other sites, such as Splash Car Wash across from Big Y, but Planning and Zoning consultant Anthony Panico commented on the reality of the developer’s decision to put a Goodwill in the plaza next to Big Y.
“My personal opinion is that at this stage of the game, you would be hard pressed to convince the developer of that property to give up a 30,000-square-foot tenant,” Panico said.
Lauretti asked the commission if they agreed on the Goodwill hours, which would be Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The P&Z voted and approved the store hours 5-to-1, with commissioner Harger opposing.