Decision on Big Box stores expected

By:Glenn Shafer , Staff Writer


A decision is expected on May 19 in Simsbury on whether or not to allow Big Box stores, like Target, in town. At this week's Zoning Commission meeting, an amendment was being considered that would curb the building size of a store to a maximum 20,000 square feet and two floors, unless it was accessed by Route 44.

The Konover Development Corporation is planning to submit an application for a $200 million development on Route 10 utilizing 60 acres of land near Hartford Financial Services Corporation. The project, Simsbury River Oaks, just over the Avon town line, would include houses, offices, stores, and a Target.

Simsbury resident Bill Miller, a member of the Simsbury Homeowners for Responsible Expansion (SHARE), drafted the amendment with an attorney and submitted it to the Zoning Commission. He and SHARE have been very visible in their opposition to a Big Box concept on Route 10.

Austin Barney II, chair of the Simsbury Zoning Commission, said a vote would place on May 19 after the Simsbury Planning Commission, headed by John Loomis, formally refers the amendment.

Out of 23 speakers at this week's three-hour zoning commission meeting, only two speakers were against the amendment, including T. J. Donahue, an attorney for Konover Development.

The application for River Oaks has yet to be submitted by Konover Development Corporation and if the amendment limiting the size of a potential big box store in Simsbury is passed on May 19, the chances of River Oaks being built appears over.

Chuck Ward, a Simsbury resident and a member of SHARE, said that many people in town believe that without the Target store, Konover Development is not interested in building houses and stores along Route 10 because the market doesn't support such a project. In his remarks to the Zoning Commission this week, Ward said he now thinks the members of the Zoning Commission are focused on what is right for the town.

"You have always been the frontline defense, protecting our town from predatory and litigious developers who would like to pave over our town," said Ward. "Some of you have even been considered too hard on developers, and nearly forced off the Zoning Commission in the last election by the Republican Town Committee. And you know all too well that there are developers who will put this town over a barrel in order to get their way to develop whatever and wherever they want. And if they don't get their way, they'll bury this town in legal fees."

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