Developers along West Street cut building and occupancy sizes, created additional parking and conducted in-depth traffic studies in an effort to get the town to approve a site plan and special exception to allow a Learning Center Daycare to open along West Street.
In the end, it was all for nothing.
For the second time in as many years, members of the Southington Planning and Zoning Commission have rejected the daycare proposal, citing concerns that it did not conform to the neighborhood and would interfere with the quality of life for those in the Ridgeview Estates condominium complex.
"I really had a tough time with this one," said Commissioner Kevin Conroy. "There were a lot of questions and they provided a lot of answers. The revised report satisfies my concerns and I agree with the traffic consultant that the impact of this development no greater than that previously approved."
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But Conroy and the rest of the commission said they couldn't get past the concerns expressed by residents including Richard Drouin and Richard Norris, both who said that they moved to the over 55 community for peace and quiet, not screaming children.
The two were absent Wednesday, as incliment weather made the trip difficult for residents in the Ridgeview Estate community, Drouin said in a letter to the commission.
The proposal for a Learning Experience Daycare Center was first presented in 2010, calling for 181 children, 19 staff members and 44 parking spaces. The plan was rejected in January 2011 due to concerns regarding safety of traffic patterns and a lack of parking, however.
Attorney Andy Denorfia, Severino Bovino of Kratzert, Jones and Associates Engineering, and Traffic Engineer Scott Hesketh, of F.A. Hesketh and Associates in East Granby came back before the board in October on behalf of the developers.
After considering the rejection carefully, Denorfia said the developer wanted to come back with a second proposal and presented the plan in Octobr, which reduced the size to 149 children and increased the number of parking spaces.
It wasn't enough to satisfy commission members, but after continuing the matter twice, Hesketh spent more than 30 minutes on Tuesday night detailing traffic patterns on West Street over the past decade, hoping it would convince the commission to approve the measure.
According to figures, traffic peaked during a 2006 study but figures in 2002 were higher than 2009 and 2012, Hesketh said.
"With the peak times, 67 vehicles would enter in an hour," Hesketh said. "Even if it took 15 minutes per trip to drop off or pick up, to accommodate with 19 staff members, there is plenty of parking."
Members of the commission appeared happy with the detailed study but instead focused on the noise of children playing outside - Bovino said children would play outdoors a maximum of an hour and a half each morning and each afternoon - in rejecting the proposal.
Denorfia told the commission that he disagreed with concerns that the project did not conform to the area and said that because it lies within a business zone, the site could instead house things such as a convenience store or fast food restaurant.
He said these types of businesses would create more traffic and considerable noise and would be less conforming, despite not needing the special exception for approval.
"This is a project with no detrimental effects on health, safety, welfare or property values," he said. "It's a good fit for the town, a good fit for surrounding properties and it benefit for everyone involved."
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