New London school buses could have new home — again

New London — A new home may be on the horizon for a fleet of school buses that has been shuffling around the city for a number of years.

The Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday approved a zone map amendment that changes a portion of 131 Cedar Grove Ave. from residential to a limited commercial zone.

Attorney Mathew Greene, on behalf of New London Cedar LLC, asked for the change in anticipation of applying for a special permit to allow a fleet of school buses to park there. Greene said he thinks it will solve the ongoing problem of finding a spot for the buses.

The city also has worked to find a lot for the buses in light of a tax boost they provide — as much as $2,500 per year for each of the newer buses.

The Cedar Grove Avenue property is home to roofing company G.A. Denison & Sons Inc. and, despite being a commercial enterprise, had straddled a portion of the residential zone.

Greene said parking facilities are an allowed use in a C-2 zone with approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission of a special use permit.

The plan for the bus parking will be submitted later this month and outline how the applicant plans to mitigate any perceived nuisances to neighbors. He said the plan contains a provision that restricts buses to right turn only out of the lot, which will guide them onto Colman Street as opposed to Cedar Grove Avenue.

Public records show Timothy Londregan is a principal and Garon Camassar an agent for New London Cedar LLC.

“We think it’s a good location based on the proximity to Colman Street,” Greene said. “We’ve taken precautions. We think it will work out well for parking buses, an issue the city has been wrestling for quite some time.”

The school buses from Student Transportation of America were evicted earlier this year from a city-owned parcel in Fort Trumbull. The city had opted not to renew a $8,000-a-year lease to M&T Parking for a property housing the buses at 41 Walbach St.

The city plans renovations to the lot and eventually use it for paid public parking.

Prior to the start of the school year, the city’s parking director worked with Student Transportation of America and the New London Housing Authority to hammer out an agreement to accommodate up to 61 passenger vehicles and 41 buses off Crystal Avenue at the vacant Thames River Apartment complex.

The alternative for Student Transportation of America was a lot in Groton.

The agreement was expected to be transferred to the city now that the city owns the Crystal Avenue property. The agreement calls for $91 per month per school bus and $71 per month for passenger vehicle, or a maximum of $8,517 per month.

The city is marketing the Crystal Avenue property and does not consider it to be a permanent home for the buses. It also is not zoned correctly for use as a parking facility, though the city intends to apply for a zone change for that parcel.

“It’s in the city’s best interest to move the buses off the property as soon as possible,” said Felix Reyes, director of the Office of Development and Planning. “It was never intended to be a long-term solution.”

g.smith@theday.com

Editor's Note: This version corrects the spelling of attorney Mathew Greene's name.

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