Fairfield to Westport car dealer: 33 bays? No way
The Fairfield Town Plan and Zoning Commission has put the brakes on a plan by Honda of Westport to bring a 33-bay service center to town.
By a vote of 3-4, the Westport dealership's application to use an existing building on Linwood Avenue for the service center failed to win approval Tuesday night.
"Why are we in a rush to say yes to something Westport doesn't want," said TPZ Commissioner James Kennelly, one of four to vote against the application. Even though the proposal is a permitted use in the industrial design zone, Kennelly said, "We don't have to say yes."
At the public hearing on the plan last month, the applicant said there would not be 33 mechanics working at the site, nor would all 33 bays be in use all at the same time.
Commissioner Matthew Wagner, who voted for the application, said it was wrong for Kennelly to insinuate that the zoning board in Westport turned down the facility.
"I don't believe there's anything in the record to support this was presented to Westport and Westport rejected it," he said. "This is without foundation."
Kennelly conceded that point, but added perhaps that is because the dealership knew Westport zoners would reject a such a large-scale plan.
According to Westport zoning officials, the Honda dealership never presented an application for a new or expanded service facility.
The proposed service center would be located next to an indoor soccer center and across North Pine Creek Road from a sports complex.
Those enterprises, Commissioner Sally Parker said, draw lots of cars and children. "I think we sort of envisioned this as a recreational area," she said.
"I'm on the fence," said TPZ Chairman Bryan LeClerc, who lives in the neighborhood. LeClerc ended up voting against the application.
He said there are many students who reside in the neighborhood and who walk to school, prompting his concern about the traffic to and from the automotive facility via residential streets.
Vice Chairman Seth Baratz, who cast a yes vote, said much of the commission's discussion was merely speculation, but Kennelly said that is what the board members should do in their planning role.