Second Department of Motor Vehicles office to open in Stamford

STAMFORD -- A Department of Motor Vehicles satellite office may be opened in the city's South End by the end of the year following the Board of Representatives' approval on Monday.

City representatives voted 31-5 in favor of opening what will be Stamford's second DMV location at the Lathan Wider Community Center at 137 Henry St.

"I think this is an opportunity," said city Rep. Eileen Heaphy, D-8, at the BOR's meeting in Stamford Government Center.

The state is proposing to install an appointment-only Photo License Center with four employees in a 628-square-foot space at LWCC.

Services will include: driver's license, non-driver ID card renewals; duplication and name changes to learner's permits; plate returns and cancellations; new, renewal and replacement of disabled parking permits; and driver histories.

Stamford's other DMV office on High Ridge Road will remain open and retain its current services.

"This is a benefit for the people of Stamford, and the Department of Motor Vehicles is paying for it, and it's a service for people who maybe don't go to High Ridge," Heaphy said.

City Rep. John Zelinsky, D-11, said the DMV office at LWCC will relieve residents from driving to Norwalk to address their motor vehicle needs.

Zelinsky said the city had a DMV office in Stamford Government Center many years ago which was well used, but it was shut down.

He said although the Norwalk office is efficient, it can take visitors more than an hour to receive services.

"This is going to be a service to all our residents, not just those in a certain section of the city," Zelinsky said.

The DMV agreement permits the state to keep the office open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, according to Mayor David Martin's chief of staff, Michael Pollard.

Pollard says, though, the exact hours and days the new location will be open has not yet been determined.

Heaphy said the second DMV location will service a growing community in the South End, as well as citizens who don't have time to stand in line at the Norwalk office.

"It services the citizens who have a right to get these things if they're available," she said.

Heaphy said when the South End office opens, the state will be paying for its utilities and $1 for rent.

Prior to the BOR's vote on the item, Heaphy said a vote against it would send a bad message to state leaders in Hartford offering a service that Stamford lost when the Stamford Government Center DMV office closed.

But city Rep. J.R. McMullen, R-18, said the state paying $1 a year to rent the space is not free to the city.

"There are other uses for this space that could be utilized more valuably to the city than a DMV," he said.

Heaphy said there is still room available in LWCC for Community Action Programs.

City Rep. Joseph Coppola Jr., R-15, questioned how many appointments a satellite DMV office could handle with four employees.

He said he thought the the proposal was perhaps a "feel-good" move by city administrators to say they brought a second DMV office back to Stamford.

"When it was first proposed I though it was an exciting idea to have the Motor Vehicle Department come back to Stamford, but after hearing what this is going to encompass or what it's going to include, it almost seems to me that it's silly," Coppola said.