P&Z: Car wash’s new vacuums draw scrutiny

City zoning staff will look into whether a River Road car wash’s new customer-operated vacuum cleaners comply with the approval received to install them.

Russell Speeder’s Car Wash, 811 River Road, received permission to install six customer-operated vacuums near the road last August and five have since been put in. The vacuums were promoted as a way to offer a free service to residents and shrubs or trees were to be planted along the road to screen the devices, replacing a display of fake flowers.

At the time, cash wash manager Julio Candiotti told the P&Z in a letter the vacuums would be “free of charge” and “available to anyone who wants to use them,” and therefore be a “great benefit for the people of Shelton and surrounding areas.”

However, according to discussion at the Jan. 8 P&Z meeting and signs at the business, the vacuums are for “Unlimited Customers Only,” meaning those who pay a fee for unlimited cash washes at Russell Speeder’s.

It also appears no shrubs have been put in. The original plans indicated five-foot-high evergreens would be planted along the road.

The P&Z office received a citizen’s complaint about the new vacuums, claiming they are “unattractive, overwhelming, too close to the road, and a distraction to drivers on Route 110 (River Road).”

Staff is now compiling information on the initial zoning approval and will speak with car wash representatives. Interim P&Z Administrator Ken Nappi said he’ll investigate whether the vacuums are in compliance, and if not, “propose some remedies.”

P&Z members want to know if the vacuums are in the state highway right-of-way and taller than approved, whether nighttime lighting on the devices is necessary, if vacuums are free to the public, and why there are no plantings.

Members said they recall spending extensive time on the application to go over the specifics. “This is nothing like portrayed,” member Mark Widomski said.
Apartment plan withdrawn
An application for a 30-unit apartment building at Old Bridgeport Avenue and Sunwood Drive has been withdrawn.

The applicant’s decision comes after P&Z members indicated they would oppose the proposal due to its density and the traffic impact.

GNK LLC wanted to create a Planned Development District to allow a three-story building at 301 Old Bridgeport Avenue, with the entrance off the private Sunwood Drive that leads to the Sunwood Condominiums.

In the withdrawal letter, attorney Dominick Thomas said his client “will consider its options and, if it re-files the application for the proposed Planned Development District, it will be under other statutory guidelines.”

A future application could possibly be filed under the parcel’s existing zone, Restricted Business District, which allows multifamily housing as well as limited retail, commercial and light industrial uses.

The project was opposed by many Sunwood Condo owners, fearing it would increase the number of vehicles cutting through the complex to reach Nells Rock Road.

Over-55 turnaround

A decision on the over-55 community proposed at 96 Long Hill Cross Road has been delayed while waiting for all city staff to provide input on the application.

City Fire Marshal James Tortora wrote the project will comply with fire safety regulations if the cul-de-sac at the end of a proposed private road “shall be of size to have the ability for emergency apparatus to turn around.”

The proposed road includes a hammerhead-type turnaround rather than a large circle, which has raised some concerns. The P&Z is awaiting the city engineer’s report.

S&G of Shelton LLC wants to construct 30 units in duplex structures and a small clubhouse on 5.5 acres next to the Route 8 highway. The community would be restricted to people age 55 or older, as is allowed by state law.
No action on signs
Proposed new signs for Apple Rehab healthcare facilities led to considerable discussion at the Jan. 8 P&Z meeting. The replacement signs are for the Hewitt facility on Maltby Street and Gardner Heights facility on Rocky Rest Road.

Apple Rehab wants to use uniform signs at all 25 facilities it owns but P&Z members are insisting the two news signs comply with local zoning rules, which includes having the street address above the facility name.

“There should be a little give and take in this,” said Apple Rehab representative Daryl Miller, noting the company hired a designer to create its proposed signs.

Members complained the designer appears not to have looked at the city sign regulations and what signs are allowed in other towns is irrelevant.

Miller said the two new signs would be similar to one already put up at Apple Rehab’s Shelton Lakes facility.

This was the second meeting where no action was taken on the signs. Apple Rehab representatives will continue refining the signs to try to receive approval.