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    Tuesday, July 16, 2024

    New restaurant, convenience store approved for Long Hill Road in Groton

    The former 99 Restaurant on Long Hill Road is pictured Wednesday, July 10, 2024. The Groton Planning and Zoning Commission has approved Wood-N-Tap’s plan for an expanded restaurant at this location. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Empty lot on Long Hill Road Wednesday, July 10, 2024, that the Groton Planning and Zoning Commission has approved for a convenience store and gas station. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
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    Groton ― The Planning and Zoning Commission approved on Tuesday two applications for Long Hill Road — an expanded restaurant building with a patio at the former 99 Restaurant and Pub site and a new gas station and convenience store across from the Poquonnock Bridge fire station.

    The commission approved Wood-N-Tap’s application for improvements to the building at 117 Long Hill Road, according to Deb Jones, the town’s assistant director of planning and development services.

    The proposal calls for renovating the former 99 Restaurant building and expanding it with a patio and addition and redesigning the parking lot.

    Wood-N-Tap restaurants, whose menus include tacos, appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, pasta, pizza, steak, salmon and barbecue chicken, are located in Enfield, Farmington, Hamden, Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, Southington, Vernon, Wallingford and West Springfield, Mass., according to its website.

    The commission also approved Glastonbury-based AR Energy LLC’s application for an approximately 4,700-square-foot convenience store, with a fast-food component, and gas station on three parcels at 388-390 Long Hill Road and 17 Brookshaven Road.

    The plan calls for 25 parking spaces, including six electric vehicle charging stalls. The site will be accessible through Long Hill Road, by right turn in and out only, and Colver Avenue, according to a town document.

    Residences are located to the east of the site, and the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department and apartments are located to the west across Long Hill Road. There is retail to the south and an Applebee’s restaurant to the north.

    A group of neighbors previously pitched the idea of a town park at the site.

    AR Energy’s plan is to consolidate three previously developed lots where buildings have since been knocked down: 388 Long Hill Road, which once housed an office and a florist; 390 Long Hill Road, where there was a former residential counseling facility; and 17 Brookshaven Road, where a home was previously located, according to the town document.

    Resident Tom O’Farrell, who lives on Brookshaven Road, who spoke during public comment, said he wanted to make clear that 17 Brookshaven Road, which in the recent past was the site of a house, isn’t just near a neighborhood or next to a neighborhood.

    “This is in a neighborhood,” he said.

    O’Farrell said that while a gas station is technically an allowed use in a Commercial, Neighborhood Zone, the zone is supposed to play a transitional role between commercial areas and neighboring residential areas. But he said this proposal would not serve as such a buffer, as one side would be residential and across the street would be the gas station.

    He also raised concerns about trash, hazardous materials, noise, light pollution, traffic and potential crime.

    Jones said the zone permits fast food and retail uses with gas stations allowed under certain conditions.

    Sergio Cherenzia with Cherenzia & Associates, the site civil engineer, said while many trees have to be cleared for the development, some have been identified to be preserved. A tiered wall system and landscaping along the back of the property will help provide a buffer between the development and the residential neighborhood.

    He said the development will follow all rules and regulations for hazardous materials.

    Todd Brayton of Bryant Associates, who presented a summary of the traffic study, said traffic operations on surrounding roadways and intersections will be minimally changed by the addition of traffic generated by the development.

    The commission approved the application with a list of modifications, including that the three lots be revised, and that during construction, there will be no parking on Brookshaven Road, where a bus stop is located.

    David Preka, owner of Advanced Group, the builder for the project, said Wednesday that this will be a unique product with opportunities for people to shop, work, charge their electric vehicle and have a bite to eat or cup of coffee at a small outdoor seating area. He said the hours will be 5 a.m. to 11 or 11:30 p.m.

    He said the site is easily accessible to the highway and downtown.

    Preka said the hope is to break ground within 30 to 60 days, and construction is anticipated to take a year.

    Neighbors are also concerned about the impact of a proposal for the nearby Applebee’s site at 350 Long Hill Road. A developer has proposed a coffee shop there with a drive-through window and a health care office. Jones said the commission last month did not grant a special permit for a drive-through.

    She said the town still has a site plan application to change the use of the building, but hasn’t yet received revised plans that address the denial of the special permit.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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