Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Medical office proposed in historic Talcottville

By Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
June 23, 2007

VERNON - Developers are hoping to build a medical office building on the fringes of historic Talcottville at the bottom of Main Street where it intersects with Hartford Turnpike, also known as Route 30.

The Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday received the application from property owner and local real estate agent Tom Tomko who wants to build the 8,059-square-foot structure on the parcel at 64 Hartford Turnpike.

The building would be squeezed onto a small lot that's just over half an acre in size north of the Picadilly Square shopping plaza containing the post office and Elmo's Dockside restaurant and south of a single-family home.

A National Historic District, Talcottville runs along Main Street and the Tankerhoosen River from Dobson Road to Route 30. The area is a well preserved industrial village typical of the 19th Century, containing the original mill, school, and a number of period houses that, at one time, were inhabited by workers.

The new building would sport prominent peaks and a simple design that's in keeping with the area's historical architecture from the late 1800s.

Neil Pade, town planner, said that's no accident.

"We've hammered on them and anybody who wants to develop there to visit some of the buildings in Talcottville and pull from the designs there," Pade said, adding "They took that advice and ran with it."

Even though the property is one lot removed from the historic district, it is still a gateway, Pade said, noting that plans would be reviewed by the town's design committee and the local historic commission.

According to the plans, the proposed building would be pushed back to the rear of the lot and situated closer to the Talcottville side in order to protect the residential houses to the north from abutting the parking lot and a "sea of asphalt," Pade said.

A public hearing on the application will be held July 19.

Also Thursday, the Planning and Zoning Commission gave final approval for an Aldi food store on Route 83, located between the bowling alley and floor covering store.

Construction on the 16,600-square-foot store can begin as soon as builders take out permits, Pade said.

Plans call for the store to sit toward the rear of the empty 8.7-acre parcel, and share an entrance at the Route 83 streetlight with the one time garden center now turned Flooring America Plaza.

Pade described the international grocery chain as a "mini Sam's" where customers can buy staple groceries at low prices.

According to the Aldi Web site, the grocery specializes in stocking limited assortments of private label, high quality products at the lowest possible prices.

Aldi operates more than 800 stores in 27 states with four in Connecticut: one each in Bristol, Wallingford, Waterbury, and Torrington, and plans to build another in East Hartford and a warehouse in South Windsor.

The commission placed certain restrictions on Aldi, limiting deliveries with no trucks allowed between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. and requiring additional landscaping in order to protect residents at the rear of the property.

They also asked that future consideration be made for pedestrian walkways so patrons could stroll to neighboring businesses.

The commission Thursday also rejected by a 4-2 vote a bid by Lee & Lamont Realty of Vernon to change zoning regulations to better suit a high density residential development it'd like to build at the former site of a planned Wal-Mart at the exit 67 off-ramp of Interstate 84.

Development on the controversial stretch of land became heated two years ago, leading the commission to strike down plans for a Wal-Mart by changing regulations on buffer zones for the 42-acre parcel.

Lee & Lamont sued, but in May Vernon Superior Court Judge Patricia Lilly Harleston upheld the commission's decision and ruled it acted properly when it required larger yards surrounding any development, effectively restricting "big box" stores.

Last month, developers asked for a variance that would allow them to build residential townhouses closer to the highway.

Commission members indicated they had put the buffers in place for good reason, and wanted to ensure that living quarters weren't crammed up against the highway, Pade said.

©Journal Inquirer 2007