Zoners keep on eye on Litchfield Crossings plaza

New Milford zoners are concerned.

AT&Ts plans to place orange awnings on their Mobility Store at the Litchfield Crossings shopping plaza at 169 Danbury Road have members of the Zoning Commission worried.

Will the shopping center now under construction become a pastiche of colors, jarring to the eye?

Zoners ask if AT&T's signature color is orange, will the next business opening want lime green?

"We're looking for a uniform appearance, New England in character," said commission member Sharon Ward. "Residents told us in the Plan of Conservation and Development that they want the Route 7 corridor to be attractive on their drives home."

Not yet nearly a reality, Litchfield Crossing has already had its ups and downs.

With the economic downturn in 2008, initial plans to build a 282,000-square-foot center at the site, next to Taco Bell along Route 7 South, was changed to two phases.

The first phase is now under construction as three buildings in the southwest corner of the site totaling 20,000 square feet.

A Union Savings Bank branch is near completion. The main tenant in the southwest corner will be the AT&T Mobility Store.

In September, with a "national anchor tenant" considering locating in the overall site, developer Paul Scalzo found his plans stymied again when an impasse arose in negotiations with the owner of the Stop & Shop/WalMart plaza across the road.

The issue was about bringing driveway configuration of the two plazas into uniformity, a State Traffic Commission requirement.

However, with Zoning Commission approval in October of a third driveway to the Litchfield Crossings plaza site on Dodd Road, Mr. Scalzo and his partners are optimistic again.

"Things are going exceptionally well," Mr. Scalzo said last week. "We're in the midst of gaining final approvals and will be submitting to the State Traffic Control soon. I'm sure we will be moving forward this spring."

As new tenants sign on to the plaza, they would have to go before the Zoning Commission for approvals of final building designs. Some basic approvals were included with the phase approvals. Among them, awnings are allowed.

"I'm sure tenants going into the center will want to have a unified look," said Mr. Scalzo's partner, Hal Kurfehs, who manages leasing. "No good center wants to be a cacophony of garish colors."

Mr. Kurfehs said the objective of any shopping center is to appeal to shoppers and appear as "one center, not a collection of haphazard buildings."