Neighbors oppose Shelton gas station & convenience store, worry about ‘more traffic, more accidents’

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — Concerns about exacerbating an already dangerous traffic situation has some calling on local zoning officials to put the brakes on plans for a gas station and offices at the corner of Bridgeport Avenue and Cots Street.

Shelton Plaza Realty, LLC, is seeking a special exception in a Restricted Business Zone for construction of the 8,000-square-foot structure that would have a convenience store on the first level and office space on the second.

Plans also called for retail gasoline sales, with 10 two-sided gas pumps at the location, which is listed as two lots, 265 Bridgeport Ave. and 3 Cots St.

Several people, including homeowners along Cots Street and business owners along Bridgeport Avenue and Old Bridgeport Avenue, spoke at the commission’s Zoom public hearing on the application. Those people voiced concern about the impact such a high-use operation would have on the already heavy traffic that exists in that area.

The public hearing was continued to a future date.

The adjacent properties are commercial and medical offices with residential farther west on Cots Street. The parcel, located between Constitution Boulevard and Exit 13 of Route 8, also abuts the area where the extension of Constitution Boulevard is proposed to occur.

Planning and Zoning Commission consultant Anthony Panico expressed his concerns about the traffic, and that is without the potential addition of large manufacturing operations on the Mas property.

Plans are being discussed for development of that city-owned land once Constitution Boulevard is extended, and Panico said that growth would bring in traffic not yet envisioned.

“You almost take your life into your hands,” said Tina Pinke, who has worked at the Shelton Medical Center that abuts the proposed development site about turning out of Cots Street onto Bridgeport Avenue each evening.

Dr. James Pinke, whose offices are in the medical building, said the road is steep and narrow and dangerous to traverse, especially in conditions such as snow, ice and even rain.

“(With this development), you would have more traffic and more accidents,” Pinke said.

Pinke said if the project is considered for approval, it should come with road improvements, specifically a traffic signal at Cots Street and Bridgeport Avenue.

City engineer Rimas Balsys, in a letter to the commission regarding the proposal, voiced numerous concerns. Balsys specifically mentioned the plans to create two entrances within 200 feet of Cots Street and add an additional curb cut on Cots Street, all near where Old Bridgeport Avenue already intersects with Cots Street.

Balsys also noted that the two curb cuts on Bridgeport Avenue - or Route 714, a state road - sit in a non-access highway and require Connecticut Department of Transportation approval before work can be done.

Attorney Dominick Thomas, representing the developer, said he has already reached out to the state on this issue, and DOT officials have offered no opposition. But nothing has been formally approved, he said.

Kevin Reichelt of Stellers Garage, at nearby 110 Bridgeport Ave., agreed that the proposal would generate major traffic backups and accidents but added that it would also impact already major flooding issues in that area.

Another local business owner, David Mullany of The Wiffle Ball Inc., 275 Bridgeport Ave., said his concern is vehicles using Old Bridgeport Avenue as a way to avoid the traffic on Bridgeport Avenue.

According to developer’s experts, the development’s design may actually reduce the flooding that often occurs in this area during heavy rains. The traffic expert also stated that his estimations show that the traffic will not be significantly impacted by the development.

Thomas said the developer is seeking a special exception for two-story structure.

“The retail sale of gasoline is a permitted use by site plan under the Restricted Business District,” Thomas said. “The convenience store and office uses are permitted uses by special exception.”

According to the application, there will be 40 parking spaces with an additional 28 spaces available on the site.