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Connecticut Community Plan for EV Showroom Proceeds

The idea has met stiff opposition from nearby homeowners, however, because the developer’s plan involves leveling part of the iconic rock ledge just west of where Canton, Conn., meets Simsbury, Conn.

The all-electric, three-wheeled Solo
The all-electric, three-wheeled Solo has a suggested retail price of $18,500.
ElectraMeccanica/TNS
(TNS) — A developer’s controversial proposal for an electric vehicle showroom along Route 44 in Canton, Conn., is headed to a decision as early as next month.

Michael Frisbie  envisions a chain of EV showrooms and service centers in Connecticut, with the first one at a high-profile site along one of the busiest thoroughfares in the Farmington Valley.

The idea has met stiff opposition from nearby homeowners, however, because Frisbie’s plan involves leveling part of the iconic rock ledge just west of Canton’s border with Simsbury.

Organized as Canton Advocates For Responsible Expansion or CARE, opponents fear the plan to blast thousands of cubic yards of rock ledge will create pollution, add construction noise and potentially jeopardize well water.

They also say a two-story car showroom on top of the remaining rock ledge will dominate the skyline, hurt the town’s appearance and simply expand the uninterrupted line of stores, strip plazas and gas stations that lines most of Route 44 through Avon.

If Canton’s planning and zoning commission authorizes the project, “It will adversely impact the lives of residents in CantonSimsbury, and Avon for generations to come,” the organization warns on its website.

But Frisbie and property owner  Mark Greenberg  say hydrology studies show their plan won’t harm the underground water supply.

“We have the facts and the science,” Frisbie said Thursday. “We’ve been working with the town to give it a great project. This is the future of transportation.”

Frisbie’s plan is build a showroom at 9-15 Albany Turnpike that would showcase electric vehicles from a variety of different manufacturers. There would also be a service center for maintenance, a convenience store, a coffee shop and ice cream parlor, and a fuel station.

The 26-acre site is just east of the closed La Trattoria restaurant on Route 44, near the spot where SimsburyAvon and Canton come together.

Much of the land can’t be developed because of the rock ledge, and Frisbie and Greenberg plan a six-days-a-week blasting operation to level part of it.

“We were initially talking about bringing it down to the road grade. Now we’re proposed to take it down 15 to 18 feet near the street — when you go back farther in the property, it would go down 40 to 50 feet,” Frisbie said.

Simsbury officials have already signed off on the proposal, which encompasses some Simsbury acreage. Canton’s planning and zoning commission, however, has had to extend its public hearing for months because of the neighborhood opposition.

Homeowners have sent scores of letters urging commissioners to refuse special permits for the project.

“This development would require extensive blasting that would create contamination of our water supply since we have a well. This construction plan is against zoning regulations, would be an eyesore, and would be out of character with the existing community,” wrote Carol and  Douglas Corry  of Birch Road in Avon.

“One person’s right to develop their property does not supersede thousands of residents’ right to have safe, potable drinking water and clean air, safe roads, and a peaceful existence in their homes,” wrote Kara and  Pete McConville  of Tanglewood Drive in Avon.

Frisbie said Thursday that he and his consultants have been answering neighbors’ concerns all along, and will respond to the latest issues when the commission’s hearing resumes Feb. 17.

The Farmington Valley is an ideal place to showcase electric vehicles, according to Frisbie, who owns several Noble gas stations and convenience stores along with the Frisbie’s Dairy Barn ice cream business in New Britain.

It is an affluent area that will be receptive to electric vehicle technology, he said. The EV industry got an enormous boost with the election of President  Joe Biden , whose administration this week vowed to replace the federal government’s entire fleet of truck and cars with electric ones.

“Amazon,  Ryder Trucks , FedEx, UPS — they’ve all gotten on board, too” Frisbie said. “We’ll can be at the forefront of this.”

(c)2021 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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