The plan to put in a Stop & Shop gas station at 65 Danbury Road was ill-received by both members and townspeople at Tuesday night’s public forum held at the Town Hall Annex.
Representatives from faced a number of biting questions and remarks about traffic and public safety with no voices of support for the proposed gas station, which would be set across from South St. and the adjacent shopping plaza containing and , an area which already sees high amounts of daily traffic.
During the meeting, John Plante, the Senior Associate/Vice President of Lagan Engineering, the company which would build the gas station, stressed that traffic levels would not be as bad as the Commission theorized it to be. Plante said that the proposed station’s traffic generation is on par with other businesses in the area.
Additionally, members were concerned that a 53-foot tanker truck would fill the gas station daily, creating additional problems of noise for neighboring residential areas and further congesting traffic. Members also cited a letter from the Ridgefield Police Commission which strongly dissuaded approval of the project.
The Ridgefield Police Commission stated that the necessary building would make “a dangerous and unacceptable curb cut in an already accident-prone portion of a major street in town” and that “traffic exiting at the Parma Deli/Dunkin Donuts strips…makes the proposal unacceptable as to accident risk.” (The full letter is attached to this article in PDF form).
“Have you ever known of any projects approved...after a scathing letter such as this?” asked P&Z member John Katz, directing the question at Cuggino.
Cuggino replied that she had not encountered letters from police commissions in general, and stressed that it was only the police department’s opinion.
The Stop & Shop reps cited data they took from Ridgefield during a four-day period of the South St. intersection and used a Waterbury Stop & Shop station for comparison. They held ground saying that the traffic would not be excessive and that the road would remain safe.
P&Z member George Hanlon disagreed and said that businesses across the street had “as many as five different entrances and exits” while the new gas station would have only one, accessible only from Danbury Road.
“When you get to this level of queuing, accidents occur,” said P&Z member Peter Chipouras, referencing the fact that there were already a number of accidents in that area, mostly in the vicinity of .
More comments rolled in when the public forum opened after over an hour of back-and-forth deliberations.
“The location stinks,” said John Pierandri of Hillsdale Avenue, directly facing the Stop & Shop representatives.
Dominic D’Addario of Tanton Hill Road said the plan “should be rejected unanimously” and called it the worst proposal he had seen throughout all his years of coming to town meetings.
“God forbid, if you approve this project—someone will be killed,” said David Wood of Mountain View Road who feared the increase in traffic and left-hand turns from the gas station would lead to a traffic fatality. “At the end of the day, are you going to believe a paid lobbyist, or our own police commission?”
The P&Z commission will vote on the project’s pending approval at a later date, but if Tuesday night’s meeting was any indication of a gas station being located at 65 Danbury Road, all signs point to ‘No.’