Our Greenwich P&Z rulers rejected an attempt to allow an exception to the 6,500 sq. ft.limit on store space up at the Banksville shopping center, despite testimony that potential grocer tenants won't move into such an unprofitable size.
I was out showing houses yesterday (there are some good deals out there, once their owners accept reality), so no blogging. But there was certainly news:
At Tuesday’s P&Z meeting, North Greenwich Associates, LLC, represented by Tom Heagney, proposed a change in zoning for the shopping center and three other properties from the LBR-1 zone to the LB zone. The LLC is registered to Stanford Guy Sutton whose family has owned the property for 30 years.
The change would make additional permitted uses available, and allow greater FAR.
“Over the last four years, the shopping center has been completely redone,” Heagney said, adding that the property owners also replaced the septic system, which is in the front parking lot.
Mr. Heagney met with resistance on his request for the zoning change from LBR1 to LB.
The P&Z chair Richard Maitland said the current POCD encourages re-evaluating existing LBR zoning regulations, which would make the commission less inclined to change zoning.
The proposed zoning change would result in increased FAR, and the commission was reluctant to let that happen, saying they did not want to the see the buildings altered or added on to.
“It has to be within the existing building,” Maitland said.
“Banksville gets a portion of its character from those small buildings. That’s what makes it a village,” [Margarita Alban P&Z member from Cos Cob] said. “The shopping center being fixed up makes it look like a village center and I don’t want to risk losing those small buildings on the other side of North Street. It gives us that New England village feel.”
Heagney said his client had tried unsuccessfully, under existing zoning, to entice a supermarket to fill in the former IGA space, but with the current FAR the space was not attractive.
“They listed with three separate commercial brokerage firms,” Heagney said of his client. “They reached out to various regional and national smaller scale markets and found that even that 6,500 sq ft was too small for their use.”
The commissioners suggested that rather than rezone to LB, Heagney propose some different uses from Use Group 4, which includes funeral parlors, health centers, hospitals, walk-in medical clinics, homes for the aged, sanitariums or convalescent homes, indoor places of assembly, places of worship, print shops, newspaper establishments, radio and TV stations and schools.
Funeral homes and homes for the aged would both be excellent uses up there, because the lack of a place to buy groceries has killed the market for houses up at the end of North Street, and the current owners will surely die in place.
No one was proposing a 100,000 sq.ft. food bazaar, but a 6.500 sq.ft. food store is too small to be profitable, which is why the original IGA shut down. It's all very well that Ms. Alban enjoys her view of this "quaint village" when she makes an occasional drive-by, but she doesn't live there. Those who do probably don't appreciate her efforts to protect them from themselves.