New Haven DRB to approve Rt. 7 car lot

NEW HAVEN — The New Haven Development Review Board (DRB) tentatively approved businessman Mike McGrath’s plan to add a 100-car used car lot to his property on Route 7 in a 6-1 vote at their Tuesday night meeting. The property is currently home to McGrath’s Flooring Center Inc. and several self-storage units, also owned and operated by McGrath.
DRB Chairman Tim Bouton is compiling the list of conditions for McGrath’s lot that the DRB discussed on Tuesday, and the decision will become official at Monday’s meeting.
McGrath first approached the DRB in mid-August with his plan to add a used car lot and repair services to his existing property. At that time, members requested that he return with a full and complete application, and also offered guidance as to what changes he would need to make in order for his plan to comply with the town’s zoning bylaws.
According to Bouton, McGrath’s lot will be approved on “conditional-use” basis, and thereby will be subject to a set of conditions required by the DRB.
“This means that we have to approve a site plan, make sure that it meets certain requirements, and develop a list of other conditions,” Bouton said.
Bouton said that all of these conditions will be compiled and documented before the final decision is made next week.
McGrath has agreed to comply with the DRB’s conditions, which he discussed with the board on Tuesday. The only major change he’s had to make, he said, is that he had planned to place the cars at the front of his property, but DRB members informed him that the zoning laws would require him to move the cars at least 200 feet back from the center line of the highway. The extra space is necessary in this case because the property across Route 7 is zoned as residential.
“At the preliminary hearing, I basically proposed the same plan, except that I wanted to have the cars out front, so they could actually be seen,” McGrath said.
McGrath, though, has altered his plan accordingly, and settled on placing the cars to the rear of his property on the north end, with some cars being placed on the more visible south end. Although he agreed to comply with the 200-foot rule, McGrath was frustrated that his cars cannot be front-and-center.
“The only setback has been this law that states that the cars must be 200 feet from the center line of the highway, because the opposite side of the street is residential, and my side is commercial,” he said. “It kind of defeats the purpose of owning Route 7 property. I think that the town is a little anti-business in that way.”
Despite what McGrath called a minor setback, he is confident that his cars will sell.
“People have been asking me to start selling used cars for awhile now, so I don’t think I’ll have any problem selling them,” he said.
His cars will be especially enticing when he starts selling in about three months, McGrath said, because each one will pass through his repair shop before it makes its way onto the lot.
“Every car will have gone through repairs with us before it’s put on the lot,” he said. “All the cars will either be inspected already, or inspectable. Period.”
McGrath also said that the addition of the car lot will not affect his businesses in any way. Other than expanding the driveway a small amount and adding a few additional lights, the property will remain pretty much as-is.
“Basically, it’s a way to make better use of the space I’ve already got,” he said.
Tamara Hilmes is at [email protected].

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