Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
South Windsor PZC sticks with grocery-store limit

By Megan Collins
Journal Inquirer
February 22, 2007

SOUTH WINDSOR - Despite numerous attempts by local lawyer Harold Cummings to reduce or eliminate the required 1,500-foot buffer between grocery stores, the Planning and Zoning Commission is not budging on the regulation.

In December 2006, the commission rejected two applications from Cummings, one that sought a reduction of the separating distance to 1,000 feet and another that proposed eliminating it entirely.

And last week the commission once again voted 4-3 against Cummings, who had filed another application in January that proposed limiting the zoning rule only to grocery stores within the Buckland Road Gateway Development Zone.

The zone currently has a Highland Park Market in Evergreen Walk.

Cummings said in December that he filed his applications for a client who wishes to build a grocery store within 1,500 feet of the Stop & Shop in the South Windsor center.

But because of the way in which the rules for the Gateway Development Zone are written, the regulation that was originally intended to limit the number of grocery stores at Evergreen Walk affects every grocery store in town, he said.

Cummings has repeatedly argued that the 1,500-foot requirement is an arbitrary distance that restrains competition.

But commission member Gary Bazzano, who voted against Cummings' previous applications, said last week that the regulation still allows other grocery stores to be built within the area and that amending the rule could set a precedent for other businesses looking to put a grocery store in South Windsor.

"My concern is that we're looking at a 1,500-foot amendment," he said. "What happens next when there's another grocery store, but it's at 1,400 feet? How many times is this going to come before us?

"We don't prohibit grocery stores in that area, nor do we allow a monopoly of grocery stores in that area," he added.

But Chairman Patrick Kennedy, who has supported Cummings' previous proposals, said that the required separating distance "makes no sense" and is "an irrational regulation."

Commission member Bart Pacekonis said that he respected Kennedy's opinions but felt that the commission should consider the safety implications of amending the regulation.

Grocery stores "do generate a lot of traffic," Pacekonis said. "With traffic comes safety concerns, and having them right next to each other could create safety concerns that we don't have right now."

©Journal Inquirer 2007