Release: BJ’s withdraws special permit application

Via Nancy Meany

BJ’s Wholesale Club has withdrawn its application for a special permit to construct a 108,000 sq. ft. superstore on Main Avenue between Perry Avenue and Broad Street. The public hearing, scheduled for Thursday, September 19 at Norwalk Concert Hall, has been canceled.

According to a statement issued by the developer and BJ’s: “We are withdrawing the application at this time and are going to review the concerns raised and, as a result of that determination, will decide what our future course of action will be for the property at 272-280 Main Avenue”.

More than 100 people attended NASH’S community meeting and presentation on BJ’s request for a special permit. Also in attendance were District D Council Represenatives Jerry Petrini, Bruce Kimmel and Anna Duleep and Common Council member Doug Hempstead. Support for denying the special permit was unanimous.

The following is statement prepared by Hempstead, Kimmel and Petrini for the now cancelled public hearing.

Letter opposing the BJ’s proposal for Main Avenue
By Douglas Hempstead, Bruce Kimmel and Jerry Petrini

As Common Council representatives from Norwalk’s District D – which includes the Cranbury, Winnipauk, Broad River, and Silvermine neighborhoods – we believe the application to locate a BJ’s regional store on Main Avenue should be withdrawn.

We have serious reservations about the size of the store in relation to the overall size of the property. We also believe the store will exacerbate existing traffic problems, not only on Main Avenue, but on the numerous feeder streets that run through residential neighborhoods. We do not believe a better coordinated system of traffic lights will come anywhere close to solving this problem.

We are aware that the proposed store is to be built on a superfund site, which means there will continue to be some level of toxicity in the soil and ground water, despite past remediation efforts. While we applaud BJ’s for its proposal to filter ground water flowing into the Norwalk River, we do not believe that will prevent problems from emerging in the future on this once severely contaminated site.

We believe BJ’s should release all of the environmental reports done in conjunction with the project. The public should have proper access to these reports.

We are also disturbed by BJ’s failure to engage the public, particularly the community organizations in the neighborhoods along the Main Avenue corridor. There are many Norwalk residents who have serious concerns about this project, and they should have been consulted early on in the process.

We recognize that a BJ’s on Main Avenue will generate some level of tax revenue for the city and will provide jobs. Nonetheless, those benefits, in our opinion, are far outweighed by the negative consequences for the city. Thus, we believe the application should be withdrawn.

Lidia Ryan