Aldermen: Canal Street lot will be sold

A piece of city-owned property between Canal Street West and Canal Street East will go on the market after all.
The Board of Aldermen had voted last month to authorize Mayor Mark Lauretti to sell the 4,500-square-foot, city-owned lot at 113 Canal Street. But the Planning & Zoning Commission had parking availability on its mind, sending back a negative referral, putting any such sale on hold.
But the aldermen, citing the desire to place this lot back on the tax rolls, voted unanimously Thursday, June 13, to override the referral. The Planning & Zoning Commission must, by charter, offer a referral on sales of city-owned land, but, if a negative referral is given, the aldermen can override by a 3/4ths vote.
“The property in question is currently underutilized,” said Board of Aldermen President John Anglace. “Private ownership addresses the economic need, enhances the area and puts the property back on the tax rolls.
“Downtown economic development is not just restaurants and stores,” added Anglace. “It also includes apartments and people who need to be provided with unencumbered walking to and from those businesses. To this end, we have provided for and are hoping to address the Canal Street to Center Street walkway as soon as possible. This property enhancement enables the city access to that walkway site.”
The Planning & Zoning Commission, by a 5-1 vote at its May 14 meeting, offered the negative referral, stating that this lot, which could hold some 12 parking spots, would be perfect for what "the downtown needs most — parking availability.
Anglace said rumors have the Planning & Zoning Commission wanting to stress to the Board of Aldermen the need for a downtown parking garage to answer the need for more available spaces.
“If so, I would comment that using the 8-24 referral process to send such a message is the wrong method,” said Anglace, adding that the aldermen had commissioned a two-block study of the downtown area that recommended construction of a “high-rise parking garage.
“Should P&Z believe that process needs further immediate action, they would be best served to submit their plan to the city administration for consideration,” said Anglace.
Anglace said that the commission has compromised its own downtown parking requirements by approving and then reducing the number of parking spaces required to be provided by the developer. One parking place for a town bedroom apartment, said Anglace, simply adds a burden to a perceived downtown parking shortage.
“We have heard that downtown businesses are clamoring for more parking, yet there are no vacant downtown storefronts,” said Anglace. “There is nobody going out of business because of parking. One would rightly observe that parking for customers might be inconvenienced but parking has not impacted the ability to do business in the downtown area.”
Anglace said, while the aldermen and Planning & Zoning Commission may not agree on this issue, the commission has been “very business friendly, resulting in continued private investment in the Shelton downtown. We hope that this minor difference of opinion is something we can build on, resulting in continued downtown economic investment.”