Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
SW planner outlines steps for action on Pleasant Valley Road retail center

By Robert J. Cyr
Journal Inquirer
March 17, 2008

SOUTH WINDSOR - After formally receiving an application last week for a retail center near Pleasant Valley Road, the Planning and Zoning Commission will now start working with Downeast Associates Limited Partnership on the project's design.

The PZC voted last Tuesday to accept the application for consideration. The commission now has 65 days, starting that day, to schedule a public hearing, which then must be held within 35 days, Planning Director Marcia Banach said.

Those timeframes may be extended. A Journal Inquirer story published Tuesday incorrectly suggested that last week's PZC vote would be tantamount to approval of the application.

Officials, pleased with the nearby Evergreen Walk development, were taking steps to change the zoning of the 56-acre parcel near Pleasant Valley Road from "design commercial" to "gateway zone" status when the developer asked for a delay so the PZC could consider the application for a 357,000-square-foot retail center under the current zoning designation.

Town officials, including Town Manager Matthew Galligan, have acknowledged that a Wal-Mart would be part of that retail center. However, Banach did not mention Wal-Mart in comments before last week's meeting, and she took pains to note that the Downeast Associates' application does not mention Wal-Mart. Nor do the architectural renderings submitted with the application identify a Wal-Mart as one of the tenants.

Banach also stressed that the notion behind establishing a "gateway zone" was not to emulate the Buckland Hills shopping mall just over the line in Manchester. She said that the Evergreen Walk development is a departure from Buckland Hills, adding that town officials prefer the Evergreen Walk model.

The plans submitted by Downeast Associates are a placeholder to begin a process to fine-tune the facility's design and have not been reviewed by the commission, Banach said.

The plans would not pass in their current form, she added.

"It's ordinary," she said. "It's definitely going to need some work."

The structure's current plain façade is expected be changed to meet the town's standards, including the use of approved materials such as wood, glass, textured masonry, and stone.

©Journal Inquirer 2008