Stonington panel reverses itself on allowing retail in manufacturing zones

Mystic — The Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to rescind a zoning amendment it approved last August to allow a developer to build a West Marine retail store on Maritime Drive on a lot previously owned by Mystic Aquarium and used for overflow parking.

The amendment was needed if the retail were to be allowed in a manufacturing zone, something that previously had been prohibited. Sales were restricted to buildings of less than 15,000 square feet that were not more than 1 mile from an interstate highway interchange. The change applied to the town’s two manufacturing zones, land on Maritime Drive and property off Route 2 in Pawcatuck owned by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe.

The commission’s vote removes the retail use from the two manufacturing zones, but it does not affect the West Marine project, as it already has received its zoning permit and construction is already underway. The commission made its decision following a public hearing on Tuesday.

Town Planner Keith Brynes said today that the commission believed that other uses are better suited for the manufacturing zone. He said the commission also may discuss further what should be allowed in the zone after the town approves the updated plan of conservation and development.

Commission Chairman Ben Tamsky could not be reached for comment.

Commission member John Prue said today that many commission members believed that manufacturing is not the correct zoning for Maritime Drive and neither is retail. He added that a campus style development of research and development, health care and office use may be more appropriate.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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