A new use variance, with conditions, has been granted in the town of Pomfret, for a business that has been operating for about 25 years, despite concern from neighbors.
At a recent meeting of the Town of Pomfret Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), Robert Legrano said his construction business, R. P. Legrano Enterprises, has been active at the Seymour Street location for 25 years, but is a much smaller operation than in the past. "Twenty-five years ago, I had 10 dump trucks and 15 employees. Now I have one dump truck and it's just me."
Some neighbors at the meeting cited concerns about noise from trucks, while others feared a change in the landscape, such as removal of trees in a wooded area.
Legrano said he's willing to address neighbors concerns, but insists not much will change. "I can understand apprehension of my being here, but what I had in the past and now are two different operations. I had a very big operation and now I don't."
Legrano said some of the concerns are already being addressed by planting grass and trees in what was previously a parking lot. ZBA Chair Sam Allesi said he would like to see the restoration of the grass continue.
Trees will not be removed, according to Legrano. "I have no intention of taking the woods down. If you want it in writing, I'll give it to you," he said. "I want to put in a pond over there by the woods so my grand kids can camp there."
A use variance for the construction business was granted in 1984, although a mistake was made at that time regarding the number of parcels. "I originally went for the variance operating on both pieces of (adjacent) property. I guess they took it for granted it was one piece of property, but it was two. Both were being utilized. One of the original guys at the ZBA thought it was all one parcel. Until May of this year, nobody even knew," that the entire property consisted of two parcel numbers, Legrano said.
Legrano said aside from a departure for Florida for a few years, the property has been in his family for a long time. "Between my father and I, we've owned the property for over 40 years. ...My dad owned property for 16 years I've been there 28. ... We did sell in 2006 and tried to buy the piece back but that fell through. Fortunately we can get another piece," he said, referring to an adjacent parcel now under a purchase contract.
The contract had not been signed by Legrano, because he wanted to be certain he could use the property for his business before purchasing it.
The ZBA decided to treat the issue regarding the two lots as if it were a new property. The board unanimously approved the variance, but created conditions which will apply to both properties after he owns both parcels.
Don Michalek, Legrano's lawyer, reminded the board and residents present the property is zoned for agricultural use and any conditions imposed on the use variance must not restrict conditions allowed by the current zoning laws.
Among the conditions agreed upon, Legrano can not sublease to other businesses as suggested by member Ray Lewandowski. Legrano must maintain a vegetative buffer behind south of property for 50 feet, finish tree planting and restore 80 feet of grass on north side of property in former parking area.
After asking some questions throughout the meeting, board member David Fridmann said, "I don't have any problem with it."
Board Member Raymond Lewandowski said, "It's been in business for all these years at this location," regarding his decision.
Member Frank Lewandowski agreed. "I'm in favor of it for the same reason my brother stated."
Legrano said he is satisfied with the decision. "Just let me work. I'm going to do everything they ask me to do."