P&Z Approves Pecks Lane Landscaping, Wood Milling Facility

Newtown Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) reviewed and approved an application for a 6,000 square foot commercial building on Pecks Lane during its October 20 meeting.

P&Z members present were chair Dennis Bloom, vice chair Roy Meadows, Corrine Cox, Gregory Rich, and Brian Leonardi, as well as Land Use Agency Deputy Director of Planning Rob Sibley.

The public hearing that night was for Application 22.24 by 24 Pecks Lane LLC, for a special exception located at 24 Pecks Lane, to permit the construction of a 6,000 square foot commercial building with associated parking and infrastructure.

Applicant and property owner Larry Whippie was present, in addition to Jason Edwards, of J. Edwards & Associates, who represented the applicant.

Edwards started off his presentation, saying, “This property is 24 Pecks Lane, which is right on the corner of Pecks Lane and Turkey Hill. It’s the grass field, I guess you could call it right around the corner. It was a house at one time … and as far as I know it’s been vacant since.”

Whippie has a landscaping business, Taunton Hill Landscape Company, and does specialty woodworking. He plans to occupy the site with both endeavors.

Edwards noted that about two-thirds of the proposed 6,000 square foot building will be divided for the landscaping business and to keep equipment, such as trucks and mowers, there.

The other third of the facility will be for the wood milling business, with a sawmill in the back under a roof. There will also be an electric kiln on-site.

There will be two driveways, one leading to each business.

The left side will have a paved driveway leading to a parking area for the landscaping employees. The right will be a paved driveway leading to a gravel parking area to let Whippie maneuver better machinery, such as the forklift.

“We do have a drainage system designed for this,” Edwards said.

The stormwater management plan and sediment erosion control plan detailed that there will be temporary sediment basins during construction. Per the Inland Wetlands Commission, boulders will be placed on the perimeter of the gravel area.

“The property is served by an on-site septic system, which would be installed in the front … it is also served by public water,” Edwards said.

For the lighting plan, he said they revised it to be “dark sky compliant” with “minor lighting.”

Commission Questions

Cox asked, “How tall will the building be?” to which Whippie responded that it is one story that will be roughly 22 feet tall. The floor will be cement inside.

Bloom said he knows the property well, and it is an “ideal spot” for the kind of business they are looking to have there.

Meadows requested to know where the stop signs will be relative to the driveways.

Edwards answered that the stop signs were a recommendation by Director of Public Works Fred Hurley.

Sibley explained that this topic being discussed came from an October 13 letter from Hurley, which he read into the record. It states:

“After submission of my site plan review, I had a direct conversation with the Traffic Unit of the Police Department regarding a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Pecks Lane and Turkey Hill Road. They are in complete agreement with the recommendation.

“Accordingly, that recommendation in my review should not be the basis for delay of application approval. The Traffic Unit and I will complete the presentation to the Police Commission and expect to install a three-way stop sign system well before any project completion at 24 Pecks Lane.”

Meadows then inquired about the specific landscaping equipment that will be stored inside and outside of the proposed building.

“I actually plan to put in as much as I can,” Whippie said. He anticipates the trailers, mini excavator, hook lift truck, and track loader will be outside.

Edwards said fencing has been added to the original plan. It will be a six-foot-high stockade fencing.

Rich asked, “What is the totally impervious service?” to which Edwards responded that it is .54 acres, including the parking lot and gravel area.

Rich also wanted to know what the Fire Marshal’s thoughts were on this application. Sibley told them that the plans were approved by the Fire Marshal.

Leonardi inquired if the permitted use is the specialty wood milling business, because it is “light industrial use for manufacturing,” but the landscaping business is proposed as a special exception.

Sibley confirmed and said that the special exception is for garages to shelter commercial vehicles. The outside trailer storage can be put in as a condition of approval, which is what they did for Tractor Supply.

With that in mind, after some discussion, Whippie said, “There is room to put everything inside,” and that he will make sure all additional equipment is put inside at night.

Sibley brought up if there will be a bathroom or office in the landscape business side of the building, since it is not indicated in the plans, and Whippie said both will be added in.

Since there were no members of the community for the public participation portion of the meeting, the public hearing was closed.

A motion to approve the application was made with the condition: “Trailers only are permitted to be stored outside in the designated area shown on the approved plans or enclosure.”

The application was unanimously approved by the commission.

P&Z’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set to take place on Thursday, November 3, at 7 pm, in the Newtown Municipal Council Chambers.

To learn more about the P&Z, visit newtown-ct.gov/planning-zoning-commission.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

Floor plan for 24 Pecks Lane facility.

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