MERIDEN — The City Council voted 7-4 Monday to change the zoning of three Broad Street parcels across from Ted’s Restaurant from residential to commercial.
Car wash owner Vincent Porzio, doing business as Wash Development LLC, applied for the zone change at 1015, 1025, and 1043 Broad St. and now intends to apply to build a car wash on the three contiguous vacant lots, situated between Twiss Avenue and Orchard Street.
Councilors voting to pass the change say it’s consistent with the city’s Plan of Conservation and Development, which City Planner Renata Bertotti told councilors Monday calls for the city to expand its tax base and encourage development, especially along established commercial corridors.
While several residents of Twiss Avenue and Orchard Street have raised concerns that a car wash could generate more traffic and make the already-congested area less safe, Council Majority Leader David Lowell told fellow councilors their vote should be based solely on the merits of the zone change. Lowell is chairman of the council’s sub committee for Economic Development, Housing, and Zoning, which approved the zone change 3-2 after listening to neighbors raise concerns during a lengthy public hearing.
“This has become known as the ‘car wash zoning matter.’ And I need to caution or instruct the council, and the public for that matter, that while a concept was drafted in order to make an application for a zoning change … we’re not approving a car wash or disapproving a car wash,” Lowell said Monday. “... We’re simply here to consider changing and expanding the C-3 (commercial zone).”
Voting in favor of the change included Republican Dan Brunet, We the People councilors Bob Williams and Joesph Carabetta III, and Democrats Brian Daniels, Cathy Battista, and Bruce Fontanella. Democrats Miguel Castro, Michael Cardona, Larue Graham, and Sonya Jelks voted against.
Jelks said while the city needs to increase its grand list, “I am concerned about traffic safety and quality of life for homeowners in that area.”
One of the bigger concerns raised by residents has been whether the car wash will exacerbate what they say is a lack of parking in that area.
Patrons of Ted's Restaurant and Dawg House Bar and Grill often park along Broad Street. Residents of Twiss and Orchard complain that cars parked along Broad Street block their vision of traffic when they are pulling out onto Broad.
Lowell said any concerns about future uses of the land will be addressed when the city receives a formal site plan application.