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Commission Holds Off on Big Y Decision

The developers of a new Big Y store location in Simsbury's north end already received a rejection from the Design Review Board and will have to wait until September for a decision from the zoning commission.

Simsbury's Planning Commission has delayed making a decision on the proposal to build a Big Y supermarket in the town's north end after a lengthy public hearing on Monday. The commission will again consider the proposal at a a meeting in September.

The meeting room at town hall was standing-room only as residents and town officials gathered for a zoning commission meeting to discuss the construction of a 54,000 square foot supermarket on the site of the vacant Wagner dealership at 1313 Hopmeadow Street. The company announced its plans for the new location in a letter sent to town officials on June 13.

Big Y Foods recently announced plans to build the new store in Simsbury's north end to the disappointment of some and the excitement of others.

Officials representing Big Y Foods have presented the project proposal before the town's design review board three times and their plans were ultimately rejected by the board last week because the board felt that the plans would not serve the interests of the north end community.

The board did not feel the store's plans were in line with the 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development, the Route 10 Corridor Study, and the Guidelines for Community Design. The board recommended the project be reconsidered using the town's planning documents and resubmitted at a later date.

"The Design Review Board felt that this was not a model that we wanted to certainly initiate here in the north end of town and then anticipating that it would be continued on in, perhaps, future developments," board chairman Emil Dahlquist said.

The town's north end has the potential to enhance the town's central business corridor or prove to be detrimental to the Route 10 corridor, Dahlquist said.

Three residents spoke against the proposal criticizing the willingness of town officials to make exceptions to development policies and the negative impact a new supermarket would have on the local economy.

"It seems as if zoning in Simsbury is now regulated by exception and not by rule," John Lucker said. "It's time to start telling everyone that we need to start doing things right again.

Board of Finance member Nicholas Mason said the town's more pressing concern of increased taxes and a steep decline in the town's grand list should be considered. Mason estimates that the addition of the Big Y supermarket would add $250,000 to the grand list.

"It's an important thing that we start to do more development work in the town and start growing the town in a reasonable way so that the taxpayers are not as badly affected as they have been," Mason said.

Bob Kane was concerned with how the addition of another supermarket in the region would affect his small business, , which lies directly across Hopmeadow Street from the proposed location for Big Y.

"It's an emotional thing for me," Kane said. "All these businesses in the north end will be affected. Big Y is huge."

Rick Wagner, whose family owns the property to be sold to Big Y Foods, said he hopes the development will only help the north end businesses.

"I've thought about this day in and day out as to whether this was going to be good or bad," Wagner said. Wagner said traffic has decreased to the north end over the past several years and a business like Big Y would bring consumer traffic back in that direction.

Ultimately the commission voted to close the public hearing on the matter by a 5-2 vote. Amy Salls and Will Fiske were the only members of the commission to vote against closing the public hearing.

The commission will revisit the proposal during the next regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting on September 10.

J A August 05, 2012 at 12:12 AM
@MrLogical.. I'm not sure who the "they" are in terms of real estate.. I'm also really not too worried about the list you have there... It's a pretty big jump to get from one major grocery store to the list you've got there (Macy's in Simsbury?? I'm thinking not) :-) Just my first observation is that Routes 15 and 44 are a lot different than Route 10. The expanse you're describing would involve multiple towns in concert. I don't forsee creep being the major issue given how much resistance there is to one vendor's plan and the fact that Route 10 can support something like a Big Y (with the proper traffic control) but I don't see the real estate or the state monies to expand Route 10 through several townships to 4 lane any time soon.. That's a lot of property to buy, develop, etc.
MrLogical August 05, 2012 at 02:47 AM
$268 million to rehab' 1,018 housing units. That's roughly $260k invested in every unit. Pretty substantial "investment" of taxpayer money. Of course, Malloy and his Democrat drones will argue that 'only' $25M comes from CT. Small consolation when the remaining 90% comes from Federal tax coffers. Oh wait... that would include us too! (At least for those of us who actually pay taxes.) http://ctmirror.com/story/17071/vacant-buildings-get-cash-infusion-state
MrLogical August 05, 2012 at 03:29 AM
JA: "It's a pretty big jump to get from one major grocery store to the list you've got there (Macy's in Simsbury?? I'm thinking not) :-) ... I don't see the real estate or the state monies to expand Route 10 through several townships to 4 lane any time soon.. That's a lot of property to buy, develop, etc." No one is suggesting it would happen overnight - least of all me. Do you believe the commercial nightmare of Rte. 44, or the Berlin Tpke. happened in a couple of years? Do you think that the consecrated battlefields surrounding Gettysburg were all but completely subsumed by urban sprawl in a couple of years? Commercial creep is insidious and proceeds not by leaps and bounds over a short period of years or even several years, but rather through decades of inexorable acquisition of small properties that beget larger properties that support ever larger projects - all aided and abetted by complicit planning and zoning commissions. Perhaps you won't live to see a Macy's (or any similar department store) built along Rte. 10, but I'd strongly advise you not to bet against it. Time is patient, and the desire to build and develop is persistent and everlasting. 4 lanes on Rte. 10? It's almost a sure thing. The only question is, when? It'sall in the hands of the town offcials as to how committed they are to preserving the qualities that make Simsbury the 'attractive' alternative to life in the Farmington Valley.
J A August 05, 2012 at 06:40 PM
@MrLogical. Some interesting reading in your recent posts. I think it may be expanding the discussion beyond the Big Y decision, but interesting none the less.
MrLogical August 05, 2012 at 07:56 PM
All part and parcel to the same underlying subject and all inextricably intertwined: Namely, what will become of suburbia and how does the Democrat's national strategy of regionalization play a role in dictating planning and development agendas and - not unimportantly - who pays; figuratively and literally. (Hint: Suburbia is where the money is.) None this happens in a vacuum or in isolation, least of all the slow, deliberate march toward obliterating the character of the so-called "near-ring" suburbs. They won't tell you that, but that's where they want to take us. The policy collusion between Democrat-controlled towns and cities and the Democrat-controlled state and federal governments isn't accidental or simply mere coincidence. It's planned.

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