Neighbors challenge proposal for Northford drive-through

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
June 6, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — Two much-discussed building projects, the reconstruction of the Northford Store and an addition at Evergreen Woods, had initial public hearings in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday.

Nick Demos, owner of the Northford Store at 1405 Middletown Ave., is applying to rebuild the main section and add five, one-bedroom apartments on the second floor. The 140-year-old store burned to the ground in March.

The goal is to create a multi-use building, renting units upstairs and “re-establishing the grocery store on the first floor,” said John Harriman, an engineer with Nafis & Young who is working on the application.

Several neighbors, while saying they support the idea of a multi-use facility in the center of Northford, objected to the planned addition of a drive-through lane around the building. Harriman said that the owner’s intention is to sell coffee and other products from a drive-through window, a service that did not exist with the old store.

“I think (the multi-use development) is a great, smart-growth beginning to create a community within the Northford center,” Steve Nugent said.

Some commissioners also expressed concerns about the drive-through and its possible impact on traffic.

Demos is seeking a special permit to add the five apartments, and needs PZC approval for the property site plan, which proposes an 8,000-square-foot building. After several residents spoke, commissioners continued the public hearing to their next regular meeting June 19 and tabled discussion of the site plan to the same date.

Harriman said he would plan to offer more information about the noise that the drive-through might generate for the tenants and neighbors at the next public hearing.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the commission heard a proposal from Evergreen Woods Elderly Housing Development to add a skilled nursing/Alzheimer’s unit that could accommodate 28 patients.

The Notch Hill Road development already has a skilled nursing facility, 88 one-bedroom and 155 two-bedroom units, said John Zyrlis, agent for owner Shoreline Life Care LLC.

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