A hike through the proposed Town Center West site on Saturday morning provided Open Space and Conservation Commission members with a chance to see what they could only visualize by looking at a site map.
Applicant Richard W. Vicino is proposing to build a 142,000 square foot “lifestyle” shopping center similar to Blue Back Square in West Hartford or the Evergreen Walk in South Windsor at the southeast corner of West Street and Cromwell Avenue. The plans include a 4,500 square foot bank, a 6,500 square foot restaurant and two other retail buildings with one being over 15,000 square feet and the other over 10,000 square feet.
There have been several discussions over the years including suggestions for a hotel, but no formal plans were ever presented to the town, according to Rocky Hill Engineering Technician Robert Alvarado. The site is currently owned by Connecticut Light and Power, which has previously cleaned the property, and was believed to be used as storage.
In the June, the applicant was granted a
On Saturday morning, six commission members hiked around the whole property in just over an hour. They viewed the pond located near Cromwell Avenue, the wetlands on the south side of the site and the proposed entrance across from Corporate Place.
“You need to see it for yourself,” Alvarado said. He said he hopes the other commission members will visit the site at a later date.
One of the points that members addressed during the hike was the issue of topping off several trees on the West Street side of the site that surround the pond area.
Vicino said he wants to cut down at least one of the larger trees that surrounds the pond because of safety reasons as well as give the area a “natural look."
During the public hearing on April 10, the commission members were split on the issue, according to Alvarado. He said some people felt that the trees should be preserved while others wanted them topped off.
The developer was also asked to make a few revisions to the plans during the hearing and is considering moving some parking spaces to cut back on the possibility of affecting the wetlands, according to Alvarado.
As the commission members walked the site, they noticed several pieces of debris and were upset with the mistreatment of passersby. Several items including cardboard, an ironing board and plywood were left in the wooded area around the pond. The amount of debris was also noted during the public hearing.
Vicino said viewing the site first hand is “absolutely” important "and we picked a day when the sun was shinning."
The Open Space and Conservation Commission continued the public hearing on Town Center West until May 9 at 6 p.m. Action could be taken that night.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed shopping center on May 2 at 6:30 p.m. The commission can conduct a public hearing on the project, but cannot take any action until the Open Space and Conservation Commission renders a decision.