Grand-scale convenience marts are the wave of the future and the Town Plan and Zoning Commission gave its stamp of approval to increase their size from 2,800 to 5,000 square feet on the Boston Post Road.
“It makes sense, that’s where the market is going,” said TPZC member Paul Kaplan. “It’s an opportunity for these stores to expand to be more in line with what the industry demands. Times are changing and this is good for business in Orange.” The need for longer parking to charge electric cars drives customers to spend more time in convenience stores, hence the demand for comfortable sitting areas, available Wi-Fi and healthy food options.
Commissioners sited favorable testimony and support from a local real estate agent, First Selectman Jim Zeoli, the town’s Economic Development Corporation, and Regional Planning Commissions as reasons to approve the plan unanimously. Last month Alfred Benesch & Co. submitted the proposal to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission on behalf of property owner Alliance Energy LLC to amend zoning regulations to allow gas stations to expand retail stores from 2,800 to up to 5,000 square feet. At the public hearing a handful of residents and business owners spoke in favor of the plan and no one opposed it. TPZC Chairman Ozzie Parente said whenever the board changes a regulation, it makes sure it is consistent with the town’s plan of development. “The one thing that jumped out at me is the section that relates to business development and guiding future growth and change on the Boston Post Road,” he said. “Residents appreciate the tax base and having access to goods and services. They want to upgrade the design and landscaping of the Post Road and they support business being promoted there.”
In presenting the plan to the board, Ryan Scittorale, project engineer, pointed out that the change supports the town’s plan for redevelopment along the Post Road, particularly improving blighted properties in the area. “Convenience marts have modernized; they used to be small structures where you bought a soda and a candy bar, now they are retail destination centers.” Other proponents of the proposal predict the change will open up more opportunities along the Post Road like expansion, parcels merging, and property owners more willing to sell.
The change went into effect on April 3.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent