Specialty grocery store approved for Glastonbury

By Stephen Underwood

Glastonbury residents will soon have a new place to buy groceries. A “specialty grocery store” has been approved on Hebron Avenue on a parcel of land between Sycamore and Lyndon streets.

While officials would not confirm what company plans to take over the space, Trader Joes was mentioned in the Town Planning and Zoning meeting minutes in reference to a study on parking.

The plan for 400 Hebron Ave., which is currently vacant, was approved July 5 on a 4-2 vote by The Town Planning and Zoning Commission.

The application sought a special permit to construct a delivery area on the west side of the existing building for a grocery outlet and an expansion of the parking area for an adjacent business utilizing 366 Hebron Ave. and 7 Linden St.

Vice Chairwoman Sharon Purtill and Secretary Michael Botelho, who voted against the approval, cited town engineer Daniel Pennington as a reason for their hesitation.

“I consistently defer to town staff on many issues and I was reluctant to vote yes on this because our town engineer had raised some questions about traffic issues,” Botelho said. “Generally I am supportive of the project overall but would have liked more information onhow this will impact traffic, which we did not get.”

The developers’ traffic engineer, Mark Vertucci of Fuss & O’Neill, said the increase in traffic from the grocery store would be minimal.

As part of the proposal, Sycamore Street will be widened along with the addition of a second northbound lane at the intersection of Sycamore Street and Hebron Avenue that Vertucci said will help with “baseline traffic on the road network.”

According to the meeting minutes, Vertucci reviewed a simulated traffic study of the intersection that showed a slight increase in traffic volume for both Friday peak hour at 2-3 cars and Saturday at 7-9 cars.

Pennington had expressed hesitation with the findings after he asked the developer for “real world data” on the number of trips generated by stores like the one proposed — and that the result was “almost exactly double” what would be expected — according to an Institute of Transportation Engineers manual used in projecting traffic volumes.

“The concern is that there will be times within the peak hour where the traffic will not dissipate within a signal cycle,” said Pennington, according to the minutes from Tuesday’s meeting.

Pennington also expressed concern for adequate parking spaces but Vertucci said that “comparable stores have fewer parking spaces” than what has been proposed.
As approved last Tuesday, the building will have 131 parking spaces, which is 25 over the town’s zoning regulation requirement for the grocer and adjoining tenants.
As part of the proposal, two houses at 7 Linden St. and 366 Hebron Ave. will be removed and an additional parking lot will be built onthe west side of the building for store employees.

According to TPZ members, the proposal has been generally met with enthusiasm from neighbors looking to add more alternatives to meet their shopping needs.

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