Stonington dental clinic developer appeals decision

Stonington - The developer whose controversial plan to build a dental clinic on manufacturing zoned land in front of the Ocean Community YMCA at Masons Island Road and Harry Austin Drive was rejected by the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission Jan. 8 has appealed the decision to Superior Court.

In its appeal, Summit Street Development LLC of New London charged that the commission acted illegally and erroneously in interpreting state law, court decisions and zoning regulations when it ruled that Summit Street needs to obtain a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals for the nonconforming, vacant commercial lot before it can seek approval from the commission.

After four nights of lengthy public hearings and then deliberations, commission members unanimously rejected Summit Street's request for the special-use permit. Summit Street is now asking a judge to approve that permit.

Although zoning regulations require a minimum lot of 80,000 square feet, the lot for the building is about half that. But project attorney Theodore Harris argued during the hearings that because the lot existed prior to zoning, it can be used as long as the project meets requirements such as setbacks and buffers, which it does.

Opponents and neighbors of the project had told the commission they were worried about the impact a dental clinic would have on traffic and the character of their residential neighborhood. They also worried that the 9,290-square-foot building appeared to be three floors, not two.

The plans had called for 11 exam rooms and 28 parking spots. Three part-time dentists and two hygienists would work in the building, which would be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. The traffic engineer for the project had said about 90 vehicles would enter and exit the property each day.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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