Parking garage foes raise their ire
Former New Milford resident and longtime zoner Charles Raymond last week urged the town's Zoning Commission to, "for God's sake, save something," as commission members heard input on a proposed change to the village center district.
A cry of "No" went up on July 28 when the question of amending regulations to allow parking facilities, both covered and uncovered, in the village center was presented in public hearing.
"You can have all the parking needed in town without tearing down the one thing of value that you have -- the town," Mr. Raymond remarked.
His concerns were echoed by fellow past Zoning Commission member Larry Greenspan and others who turned out in opposition to the proposed change.
They are concerned the change would open the door to three-story, cement parking structures in the downtown, specifically near New Milford Hospital.
The proposed change was precipitated by a request by developer Tom Pilla for a special permit to allow the corner lot on Main and Bridge streets to be turned into a parking lot for the newly opened Tivoli restaurant.
Mr. Greenspan suggested the proposed change be worded to allow parking lot use on property that is currently used or was previously used as a service station. The lot Mr. Pilla has sold to the owner of Tivoli previously housed a Mobil service station.
Rob Burkhart, president of New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation, cited there are some 900 parking spaces in the village center, if the "30 public and private parking lots" are counted.
He produced at the July 28 meeting a petition signed by 416 town residents in opposition to allowing parking facilities in downtown.
Mr. Pilla also cautioned commission members against wording the change in such a way that it would allow covered parking facilities. However, he noted it would cost "millions of dollars" to build a three-story concrete parking structure downtown.
"I don't see a business or groups of business, with the exception of the hospital, that could afford that," Mr. Pilla said.
The Zoning Commission kept open the public hearing on the proposed change. The next commission meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 11.