Danbury executives hail luxury dealership’s plans for West Side eye pollution, but question rooftop traffic and parking

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DANBURY — City leaders welcomed plans to turn a longtime West Side eyesore into a Mercedes-Benz dealership, but had questions about traffic and the project’s unusual design for a vehicle display on the second floor and a car storage on the roof.

“It’s a bit unusual but OK there’s going to be a second floor and a roof I guess with cars on it mostly I guess,” Councilman Paul Rotello said in a public hearing this week. “Explain to me because I’m a bit confused – there will be an uncovered roof with cars on it and then a covered section for people to stand to watch the cars which will have another roof on top of that?”

The short answer is yes, said the developer’s representatives.

Most of the second floor of the proposed concession on Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow Roads will be an uncovered patio finished with a 6-foot-high wall of “European-style” dark metal panels and grillage. Part of the second floor at the front of the building will be a glazed interior vehicle display area, to draw the attention of Route 7.

“What we really want to do is make it look like a finished building and not just a parking lot with a guardrail,” Michael Kozlowski, project manager at Claris Construction, told a court hearing. Planning Commission Wednesday. “It’s really hard to see (parking) cars from the street.”

Kozlowski was referring to a plan by Curry Automotive to turn a 2.5-acre storage yard at a walkway intersection on Danbury’s booming West Side into a $7 million luxury car dealership. Curry, which has 12 locations in four states, including a Mercedes-Benz dealership in east Danbury, would move its Federal Road dealership to the West Side if it receives Planning Commission approval.

The site next to Danbury Municipal Airport is at the heart of an ’emerging mecca for premium automobiles’ which is already home to luxury dealerships, custom garages and storage facilities, as well as a manufacturer of $450,000 sports cars.

“(The site) has long been used for a variety of commercial and industrial uses of questionable compliance with zoning and more recently has been used for the storage of raw materials as well as the storage of construction equipment,” the l attorney for Curry Automotive, Meaghan. Miles told the Planning Commission this week. “It’s a very appropriate use for the region – being transport-focused and commercial – particularly as it relates to auto sales…it fits in perfectly.”

The Planning Commission will not decide until at least June, when the hearing will continue to consider the impact of traffic on the area. Abdul Mohamed, Danbury’s traffic engineer, said the concessionaire would be a “major traffic generator”, adding 860 vehicle journeys in the area on an average weekday and 1,615 car and truck journeys on a Saturday medium.

Several city leaders attended Wednesday’s hearing to get answers for their constituents, only to find the traffic study would be discussed in June.

“I’ve had quite a few voters calling me up and wanting to know this or that,” said Councilman Fred Visconti, who added he was thrilled at the prospect that the “mess” at the intersection of Miry Brook and Sugar Hollow Roads would be rehabilitated. “We’re looking forward to Mercedes-Benz being there, but I have a few questions about the traffic.”

Curry Automotive, for its part, said it was confident traffic would not be a deciding factor.

“This project will maintain acceptable service levels with minimal increases in vehicle delay at all peak times,” attorney Miles said this week. “No off-site road improvements are needed.”

Meanwhile, Rotello said it was not sold for parking cars on the roof.

“We have constituents at the top of Wooster Heights who live several hundred feet above this (proposed dealership) and I’m guessing (the cars on the roof) would be visible from that vantage point,” Rotello said. “I would like a vision of what would be visible from a height of several hundred feet – I don’t need to get on planes flying over the building – it’s the people who will be living there who will look down the hill and see this building from a point of view that is clearly not from the street.

“I will argue that because of the distance, the front part of this building will hide most of these cars on the roof,” project manager Kozlowski said. “If you’re high enough, of course, you’re going to see something on the roof, but from that vantage point, it’s no different looking at cars on a roof than looking at cars in a parking lot, in my opinion. “

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