Terrain vows to save historic house while remedying parking crunch
Published 1:24 pm, Friday, July 19, 2013
Responding to public outcry, the owners of Terrain garden center told the Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night they made a mistake when they proposed setting aside additional parking by demolishing a historic home on the store's Post Road East property.
The home, under Terrain's revised plan, will be preserved and the owners will work with town zoning staff for an alternative solution to the commission's insistence that the popular business -- which also includes a restaurant -- activate so-called reserve parking on the site to ease a parking crunch.
"I can say sincerely and resolutely that it was a mistake to (propose knocking down the house)," said Ken Nemeth of Urban Outfitters, the Terrain parent company. "We are committed to figuring out a way to get together on this, save the house, meet the parking needs."
In June, Terrain sparked controversy when it filed a plan to demolish the building to create extra parking. Opponents were particularly upset by that proposal since store officials had promised not to raze the house when the initial plan top open the store on the site of the former Curran Cadillac dealership was approved in 2011.
Terrain officials' most recent proposal is to "seal off" the house rather than use it for office or commercial purposes. The revised plans also call for the release of 29 reserve parking spaces on the eastern side of the 1.61-acre property.
Much of that reserve parking is now covered by greenhouses, plants and garden equipment. Terrain uses on-site valet parking and zoning officials have asked them to activate the reserve parking to accommodate the needs of patrons. But Terrain officials seemed loathe to remove part of the merchandise area to accommodate the need for more parking spaces, and initially wanted to demolish the house to provide extra parking.
Under existing P&Z regulations, any use of the historic building would likely generate the need for parking spaces. But commissioners on Thursday said they might consider a text amendment that will allow the building to stand unused while not requiring additional. One suggestion was to have Terrain turn the building into an employee lounge.
The public hearing portion of Terrain's application was closed by the commission Thursday night. The board now has 65 days to issue a decision.