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Konover Granted Access to Lawton Road

Zoning amendment could pave the way for CVS, other development at the corner of Lawton Road and Route 44.

After much comment from the public over the past several months, the Zoning Commission, by a 6-1 vote, approved a plan to allow access to Lawton Road from a proposed development on the corner of Route 44. 

The regulation and master plan amendment is designed to pave the way for CVS and other development for the site. The access and changing building areas from two to three were the major changes Konover Development sought to the Albany Turnpike Gateway-2 Zone that governs the property.

A site plan will come later in the process. 

Commissioner Kathy Hooker said that it is sad how Lawton Road has become such a busy road. And while the development will increase traffic, the latest proposal will impact the neighborhood less than any other so far, she said. 

“Approving or not approving this application isn’t going to bring the road back to what it was,” Hooker said. 

Commissioner Mark Podesla said there is value to the neighborhood’s perception that the access would degrade the area.

“We should make a stand and not have that access at Lawton,” Podesla said. 

Zoning chairman Jay Weintraub said it’s naive to think it would be easy for Konover to find another developer if the access was denied and CVS walked away.

“As good as the location is there are limitations,” Weintraub said. 

Although it has development approvals that have not been built, the company now wants to construct three development areas –a 16,000-square-foot CVS in the front, a 2,500 to 7,000 square foot building at the corner and the newly reduced building area of 32,300 square feet at the rear.  

Public comment at third installment of the hearing was limited but residents still reiterated some of the basic arguments, the most contentious being the proposed access to Lawton Road.

Barry Dickstein pointed out that the developer’s and town’s traffic engineers both said the access would not result in more traffic on Lawton than access only on Route 44.

“Both of those reports opine that there will be no worsening of traffic on Lawton Road,” Dickstein said.

He also spoke to the developer’s assertion that CVS will only come with two access points.

“The neighbors think they know better what they will and won’t do,” Dickstein said.

Dickstein said Canton needs the tax dollars from this project.

“In my view this is clearly our best hope for commercial development in the near future,” he said.

Although Dickstein said he lives nearby on Queens Peak, Lawton Road resident Jean Bouchard took exception to some of the comments.

“He doesn’t live in our neighborhood,” Bouchard said. “It is not necessary to have that outlet or access on to Lawton Road.”

She reiterated that the Shoppes only have one main access point.

“They were considerate,” she said.

Theresa Sullivan Barger urged the commission to consider the negative impacts to the neighborhood, which is a provision in the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

“If we erode this residential neighborhood, which one is next?” she asked.

Konover and its representatives also spoke to the project, specifically to new issues raised. For example, they cited a recent rumor that access to Lawton Road was a precursor to a road to neighboring developments to the east. While there is an easement with a business owner a few parcels away, nothing exists between the two to connect to Konover’s parcel, said Robin Messier Pearson of Shipman, Sosensky and Marks LLC of Farmington. 

“It’s a non-issue,” she said.

She also reiterated the developer’s assertion that the changes are an improvement over the currently approved plan.

The currently approved plan allotted for 5,444 daily trips to the site, she said. Under a worst-case scenario, the new proposal will result in 4,969 trips a day, she said.

Konover contends that only 5 percent of the traffic would be generated from the north and that would not change whether the cars go to and from Lawton from Route 44 or directly to the street.

“I think we’ve made it quite clear that the changes with the proposal are positive for Lawton Road,” she said. 

After Konover’s final presentation, the hearing was closed, much to dismay of some residents.

“I don’t see why the public is not allowed to rebut their points but they can rebut our points,” Barger said.

Zoning Commission chairman Jay Weintraub said the pubic had many opportunities to speak and someone had to have the last word or it could go on ‘ad infinitum.”

Upon further protest from the crowd, he said, “I have not recognized anyone from the public” and the commission closed the hearing. 

Voting in favor were David Bondanza, Peter Clarke, Kathy Hooker, Philip Pane, Sandra Trionfini and Jay Weintraub.

Voting against was Mark Podesla.

Scott May 19, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Great Job. Now we can move forward with this project !!!
Corey Webster May 19, 2011 at 09:30 PM
Acting like this development is going to make traffic spike is too little too late. Traffic on rt 44 between canton village and Avon is already unbearable thanks to the overdevelopment of the road particularly in that stretch. Lawton and Lovely St. traffic has increased so dramatically because people want to avoid 44 at all costs. Years ago it was the Shoppes that were going to be Canton's savior and sky rocket them to a metropolis of wealth. Years later all the town is left with is stores that cant afford the rent, car accidents and tax dollars wasted so police can direct traffic for the last quarter of the year. The more you develop the more people are going to flood the neighborhood roads just to avoid the area. Developing a corner that already has several accidents a week will bring nothing positive to the town, and for what a CVS? Aside from the fact that there is one 2 miles down the road, theres also 2 other drug stores as well within those 2 miles. I hope Canton learned there lesson from the Shoppes and fights this development. Perhaps one of these days they can develop something actually beneficial to community like a park, or recreational area, or something that serves the community more than it hurts it.
abby May 19, 2011 at 11:46 PM
Canton Zoning Commission, all but one, says that the rights of stores such as CVS and the Konover Corp are more important or weigh more than rights of an entire neighborhood. When the Canton Zoning Commission voted to allow CVS to dictate an entrance and exit onto Lawton Road above the pleas to the contrary of residents that live adjacent to and in close proximity to this development they basically put to rest any farce that Canton is a town that cares about growth only if the character and quality of life of residents is upheld. If Canton continues to grow at the peril of the quality of life of its residents it will soon quickly resemble Bristol, Torrington, Newington- and homeowners will watch as their home values decline and Main Street is throughly and utterly replaced by route 44. All the residents wanted was to keep business on 44 and off and out of our community/neighborhood. The residents made countless pleas to the Zoning Board to consider our already overburdened roads. In the end it came down to Konover and CVS with their big pockets dictating how a neighborhood will or won't survive. The Shoppes at Farmington Valley did a great job in respecting the neighborhoods surrounding the Shoppes. Apparently CVS has more clout in this economy than the entire shopping plaza known as Shoppes at Farmington Valley. - Eventually a town grows to the extent that it resembles something sad and kind of ugly when it disregards quality of life for business at any cost.
abby May 20, 2011 at 03:48 AM
What- are you an investor or do you just like the look of neighborhoods wiped out? Do you even realize that in this neighborhood are the historic homes whose builders/owners created the town of Canton? The stone house and the old Lawton homestead aka Elisha Case home are historically two of the historic homes on this road whose original owners founded Canton via a petition to break free from Simsbury in 1806- along with Solomon Everest. Perhaps they made a mistake. Simsbury seems to protect its country roads better than Canton. You can't ever keep up with business to keep down taxes. If that's where you want to go move to Bristol or Torrington- or join Newington that wishes they hadn't done the same years ago.
Lynn Hyde May 20, 2011 at 02:05 PM
Our town is going to continue to grow reguardless how opposed we are. So why, do we keep accepting the stores that are within 15 minutes of us? What is the draw? No one from surrounding towns is going to drive to Canton for what is in their backyard. CVS , McDonald's, sporting goods, car washes, Walgreens, what is next Friendly's? . What about the stores that are an hour away? Word on the grapevine says bring in a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's. The only town supporting a CVS will be our own. I see another empty storefront. What about Canton Village? It is already there but needs great improvement, I am sure we all agree. Let's encourage the owners to fix up what we have, be proud and move forward.
Corey Webster May 20, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Excellent point Lynn, why develop land when there is empty commercial space available already. The town needs to stop being doormats for these corporations. The town of Canton will be standing longer than any CVS, the appeal of canton has always been its small town charm and historic landmarks. The theoretical tax break does not outweigh the damage overdevelopment does to the community. I hope Canton residents will voice their disapproval for the direction the powers that be wish to take the town in.
Scott May 20, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Oh my God you people are cry babies. You don't own the Land. Konover spent the money and bought it from the property owner. If you wanted to keep it a wasteland then you should have bought it. Since you didn't don't tell Konover what to do with it. You don't own it!!!
Lynn Hyde May 21, 2011 at 01:49 AM
Scott, I am not anti-development. I do think that repeat stores are not the way to go. What will bring Avon, Simsbury and West Hartford residents to a CVS when there is one in each and every one of those towns?
John Fitts (Editor) May 21, 2011 at 12:18 PM
Hi folks. We encourage healthy debate but please keep comments civil and do not resort to name calling.
Andrew Y March 23, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Oh great...ANOTHER light on 44. Thanks Konover.
Andrew Ziemba March 23, 2012 at 04:31 AM
CVS!! WOOT!! Drugs are AWESOME!!! (as long as they are ONLY drugs that huge corporations and politicians can make money on of course)

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