WALLINGFORD — A vacant former Italian restaurant on Route 5 will be demolished to make way for a car storage lot under plans approved by the town.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special permit last week for Quality Subaru, 711 N. Colony Road (Route 5), to use 680 N. Colony Road and 684 N. Colony Road to store vehicles.
The permit application says the parcels will be used for vehicle storage and that vehicles will not be sold from the location. There would be 102 spaces for vehicles on the properties.
Dealership owner Joe Blichfeldt told the PZC that the building at 680 N. Colony Road, formerly Don Giovanni’s restaurant, would be razed. The building at 684 N. Colony Road, formerly El Amigo Taqueria, would be modified and scaled down for electrical services and an employee restroom.
The two properties are owned by Fulton Forbes Inc., according to the town assessor's office. Fulton Forbes President Lawrence Merriam told the Record-Journal this week that Quality Subaru is in the process of purchasing the parcels. Merriam anticipates the dealership will close on the sale before the end of the year.
The dealership and the proposed vehicle storage space are separated by a Wendy’s restaurant, 674 N. Colony Road, and United Bank, 707 N. Colony Road. Vehicles would be moved between the dealership and the storage lot via Route 5.
Route 5 impact
During last week’s meeting, Commissioner James Fitzsimmons questioned how the vehicle storage proposal would impact the area along Route 5. Fitzsimmons said he is concerned it would make the area look more industrial and that customers would enter the storage lot thinking it was the dealership.
“My concern is, I’m not sure this is the best use for Route 5 property,” he said.
Blichfeldt said that new vehicles would be delivered to the dealership for inspection and a license plate before being driven to the storage lot, per state and federal law. He said an average of nine cars would be transported every few days to the storage area.
The special permit includes a 50-foot landscaped area between the storage area and Route 5, Town Planner Kacie Hand said.
“From a design standpoint, primarily from a landscaping standpoint, we’re really getting what we’re supposed to get,” Hand said. “We’re getting what we want to see on Route 5.”
The special permit prohibits sales or service at the storage space, requires that vehicles are driven individually and not transported by truck and that there are no more than 20 vehicle trips between the two properties per day.