Zoners approve Pamby gas station expansion
Pamby Motors — the Sunoco gas station and body shop at the corner of Grove Street and Danbury Road — was given the green light for a 20-foot expansion on the rear of the building at a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Dec. 4.
Architect Peter Coffin of Doyle Coffin Architecture said the plan is to also clean up the exterior of the building, including removing the stamped-vinyl siding that’s meant to look like brick.
“Essentially, we’re renovating the entire exterior of the building,” he said.
Plans on file at the town planning and zoning office show renovation work to the service station behind the gas pumps on Danbury Road.
That includes new windows and removing the garage door on the Grove Street side of the building. A new garage door will be added on the back, Coffin said.
The renovations will create an “office in the front for the gas station and then a large car-prep area in the back,” he added.
Vice Chairman Joe Fossi seemed to welcome the upgrade.
“No offense to the Pambianchi family, but that is a really ugly building,” he said, adding that he was glad they would be adding some “earrings” to it.
“We used to say lipstick on a pig, so you know, jewelry is really [an improvement],” said Chairwoman Rebecca Mucchetti.
In addition to the 20-foot extension added to the rear of the building, attorney Bob Jewell, who represented owner and applicant John Pambianchi, said they also plan to add a fence at the back of the building which will enclose a container for scrap metal.
He noted that the family has wanted to renovate the building for years, but that their previous landlord would not allow them to do so. The Pambianchi family recently purchased the building, and upgraded the underground gas storage tanks, he noted.
The only point of discussion that caused a holdup among the commission was the question of adding a sidewalk along Grove Street and Danbury Road.
“I commend you for improving the building … however, I would like to propose that you install sidewalk,” said Commissioner Charles Robbins.
Jewell said that was outside the scope of the project and cost the owners would be willing to take on.
“That would increase the scope of this process, plus the cost, at this time,” said Jewell, noting that the cost of replacing the underground storage tanks was not something the owners had anticipated so soon after they bought the building.
Jewell added that he believes it would be dangerous to encourage people to walk on that side of Grove Street.
“I would hate to see this project go away because we didn’t fully beautify the Grove Street side,” he said.
Jewell said that Danbury Road is a state road, and not his client’s private property.
Assistant Planner Daniel Robinson also liked the idea of a sidewalk in the area.
“I think that you have to go down towards Party Depot to find the next area with no sidewalks,” he said.
In the end, Jewell agreed that his client would repaint the street markings that show pedestrians where to walk.
“They’ve been meaning to do that for a while. It is there, it’s just faded away,” he told the commission.
The plan won a unanimous vote of approval — with the addition of new lines denoting the walkway. It will have an effective date of Dec. 14.
Jewell noted the location has been a gas station since at least 1932.
“Did you check with historic?” asked Commissioner George Hanlon, with a chuckle. “This is a historic building. Jeez, 1932.”