Branchville garage, improvements win approval

33 Ethan Allen Highway will receive some improvements.

33 Ethan Allen Highway will receive some improvements.


Improvements to one of Branchville’s more visible properties — the four-story building which housed a barbershop for many years, and its lot at 33 Ethan Allen Highway — have been approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The plans approved on an 8-0 vote of the commission include construction of a 22-by-38-foot storage garage, one-and-half-stories high, repaving of the parking lot, and exterior improvements to the main building. The new garage is expected to be used by the business Window Solutions.

The four-story 1,300-square-foot building is a wood-frame structure on the site that dates to about 1900. The upper floors are sided but there’s a brick facade on the ground floor, which is set up for commercial use while there are offices and apartments above.

Over discussion at a few meetings, concerns were raised about sidewalks. The concerns were eventually resolved at the last discussion of it Nov. 12, with the owners showing they’d grant easements to the state of Connecticut for sidewalk construction that is planned in the area as part of the Branchville TOD or “transit oriented development” project.

Commissioner John Katz, who eventually moved approval of the project, expressed concern about the width of the sidewalk easement — which was six feet for the sidewalk and another three feet for a snow storage shelf.

“I would not be in favor of a six-foot sidewalk with a three-foot shelf — that’s ridiculous,” Katz said.

He was not mollified by the suggestion that the sidewalk might not be as wide as the easement area.

“I know how the state works,” he said. “If they’ve got a six- foot easement, they’re going to put down six feet of concrete.”

The motion for approval included conditions requiring that the entrance-exit off Route 7 “include a sidewalk within the driveway, and “depressed-sidewalk” concrete curbing.”

It also says the owners must provide state or town agencies “all necessary easements for the installation of a pedestrian sidewalk along the property’s Ethan Allen Highway frontage” — a requirement designed to accommodate the sidewalks envisioned connecting properties throughout the area as part of the Branchville TOD plan.

With the property just across Route 7 from the Norwalk River, the approval includes provisions for the town to do maintenance and repair on the stormwater management system that is part of the plans if it is neglected and the town believes the work is needed to keep drainage flowing properly.

The owner is CT Property Assistance LLC, and the project was shepherded through the planning and zoning process by McChord Engineering Associates.