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P&Z: Powder Ridge needs C.O.

The Middlefield Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Nov. 13 began with a report from the zoning enforcement officer, who reported a “relatively quiet month.”

Issues included unregistered vehicles on Oxford Drive and Ross Road and topics concerning Powder Ridge, which is set to open Nov 29. Specifically, pond dredging at Powder Ridge was “not to the depth that they hoped” which the foreman reportedly said means “less snow-making capacity.”

Another issue reported was a gazebo at Powder Ridge that is over the line into Meriden. Later in the meeting, Mark Branse, legal counsel to the commission, spoke more about the legal situation with Powder Ridge not yet having a Certificate of Occupancy granted by the commission as they prepare to open for business. The commission discussed the possibility of granting Powder Ridge a temporary Certificate of Occupancy.

Branse said, “We always have the option to forbear [and not enforce the regulations] but if Powder Ridge opens without zoning compliance and someone trips and falls… if they didn’t have a C.O. all I can say is that I wouldn’t want to be their lawyer.”

Powder Ridge did not respond to requests from The Town Times for comment, but its website indicates that the company is continuing to plan on opening on Nov 29. The Planning and Zoning Commission indicated that the primary obstacle to granting the C.O. was the missing site plan, which was previously discussed in June. The commission also indicated that it had previously agreed to several variances for Powder Ridge’s upcoming site plan, which one member described as “relatively common practice.”

Some interest by “large stores” was reported by the commission. This development would be at the corner of Washington Street (Rt. 66) and Higby Road. The Rt. 66 Corridor Study, which previously assessed the potential for economic development along the parts of Route 66 that pass through Middlefield, was discussed briefly.

The Planning and Zoning commission also engaged in a lengthy dialogue with Joseph Darmanin, who applied to develop a subdivision. As part of Darmanin’s application, a variance from normal regulations as a result of the land’s topography was discussed. The commission was in favor of granting the variance, but, as Branse explained, recent court decisions have confirmed that the Zoning Board of Appeals must also approve all variances.

On the advice of the commission, Darmanin agreed to withdraw his application so that he could go through the ZBA. After obtaining the variance, the commission indicated that as Darmanin had already paid an application fee, the fee for his re-application would be waived, although the decision cannot be made officially until the new application is processed. Darmanin was instructed to include a cover letter referencing the remarks made at the meeting to request that his fees be waived.

Planning and Zoning Chair Robert K. Johnson expressed sympathy for the inconvenience, and Darmanin said, “I completely understand.” The subdivision project will be delayed a couple months in order to go through the ZBA.



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