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TPZ members question plan for Spruce Street parking lot

A permit application to change the zone for a Spruce Street property to allow a parking lot drew little public opposition, but drew questions from Town Plan and Zoning Commission members.

No vote was taken Tuesday night by the TPZ on the application filed by lawyer David Quatrella to change the zone at 256 Spruce St. from residence B to a designed commercial district. The property is an empty lot behind commercial properties on the Post Road that house Dunkin' Donuts and Subway on one parcel and a small shopping center housing restaurants and Blow Dry on the other.

Quatrella said the property would be split between his two clients and would provide additional parking, particularly for the shopping center. A lack of adequate parking, he said, forces employees to park on Spruce Street.

"It's really not in the town's best interest to spot zone and take away residential properties," Vice Chairman Gerry Alessi said of the proposal.

Quatrella argued that the plan does not constitute spot zoning. "Spot zoning would be if this was an island in the middle of a residential zone," he said. There are five residential properties on the other side of Spruce Street, Quatrella said, and only one owner -- David Romero -- came to the TPZ meeting, but had to leave before the hearing started. He said Romero was pleased to learn that, under the proposal, the parking lot would move employees' cars off Spruce Street.

Two emails opposing the application were received by the commission. Both came from residents living outside of the 500-foot radius surrounding the subject parcel; one from Sharon Klammer on Harbor Road and the other from Thomas Dailey on Southport Woods Drive. Quatrella submitted two letters in support of the application from two businesses on Harbor Road.

TPZ Chairman Matthew Wagner questioned whether the additional parking would actually be used by employees or customers of the restaurants or salon.

"I drive by this lot all the time," Wagner said. "I don't personally perceive any need for additional parking."

Alessi argued that human nature being what it is, people are still going to park on Spruce Street, because it is closer to the building.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; https://twitter.com/GreillyPost

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