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June 1, 2020
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In this file photo from January, attorney John W. Knuff shares information about a site plan application for a proposed Branford Aldi supermarket with residents from abutting Home Place, including Alana Abbott and her daughter, Helene.

File photo Pam Johnson/The Sound

In this file photo from January, attorney John W. Knuff shares information about a site plan application for a proposed Branford Aldi supermarket with residents from abutting Home Place, including Alana Abbott and her daughter, Helene. File photo Pam Johnson/The Sound | Buy This Photo)

Aldi Wetlands Plan OK'd in Branford; PZC Sets May 21 Public Hearing

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By a narrow quorum vote on May 14 of three in favor, one opposed, and one abstention, Branford's Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) approved a land development plan for a proposed Aldi grocery store and separate Chase Bank building at 1151 West Main Street. A site plan application now goes before the Town's Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC), with a May 21 public hearing scheduled.

The IWC's review of the property began in December, when Sound Development Group (Trumbull) and property owners John Maturo, Melissa Maturo Kaiser, Nicole Maturo and Charles Maturo submitted an application for a project involving construction of a 19,210 square foot grocery store and a 3,470 square foot bank, including parking and storm drainage, on the 9.133 acre site. The property fronts West Main Street/Route 1 and last was used as a car dealership site, with the building since demolished.

The proposed grocery store and stand-alone bank development is located at a point across from I-95 Exit 53. Some nearby neighboring businesses are CVS/Pharmacy on Short Beach Road and the Branhaven Plaza stores, including a Big Y Supermarket (1060 West Main St.). Aldi stores are about a quarter to a fifth smaller in size than a typical grocery store and are owned by the same company as Trader Joe's.

Plans call for building out the area of the property fronting West Main Street with development running toward the Amtrak rail line abutting one side of the parcel; and away from abutting areas including a portion of the parcel which backs up to residential Home Place and wetlands. Residents of Home Place who had initially raised concerns about the development became more favorable to the plans following a January conference with  Attorney John W. Knuff (Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg & Knuff, Milford); who also quarterbacked the application through the IWC process. See that story here . During the IWC's March 12 public hearing on the application, the IWC received a letter of support from residents of another abutting property, the Rockledge Condominium Association.

The IWC's tussle with the application involved an original proposal to fill what the applicant described as unconnected wetlands at the front of the property; the filling of which would be assuaged by augmenting existing wetlands at the rear of the property.

On May 14, the IWA resolved to allow a version of that, approving a final development plan submitted March 5 that reduces direct wetland impact by about 1,486 square feet from the originally proposed plan. The approval also requires the developer to incorporate nine conditions, limitations and/or modifications specific to the property and required by the IWC; in addition to following IWC's standard conditions required for development.

The IWC's vote on the resolution was made during a virtual meeting hosted by Zoom on May 14. Voting in favor were chair Peter Bassermann and commissioners Steven Sullivan and Eric Rose. The opposing vote was made by commissioner Suzanne Botta. Commissioner Sandra Kraus abstained from the vote. Attorney Knuff attended the May 14 meeting and thanked the IWC for its vote.

A legal notice of the PZC's Thursday, May 21 meeting is posted at www.branford-ct.gov ;and shows the Aldi application as one of four public hearing items that will be heard during the meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. As with all town government meetings held during Gov. Ned Lamont's Executive Orders for COVID-19, the May 21 public hearing will be held remotely.  Instructions for joining the May 21 PZC meeting via Zoom on computer or by phone will be posted with meeting agenda (not available at press time) at www.branford-ct.gov


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