The town's American Automobile Association branch at 2276 Whitney Avenue has been a fixture for almost a half century, but soon it will be replaced by a more modern facility that officials say will better suit the needs of both employee and customer.
Officials representing AAA appeared before the Planning and Zoning Commission this week with their plans, which the commission unanimously approved.
The application is one of the first submitted that conform to the commission's new regulations approved last year, chairman Ann Altman said.
AAA has been in business since 1902 and has 3.1 million members in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to Lloyd Albert, AAA's senior vice-president of public and government affairs.
"We have been on Whitney Avenue since 1964," he said, "and our goal tonight is to provide a new facility for our members and a new home for our 40 employees."
"This project is the first application to come forward that is fully compliant with the T4 zone" created under the new zoning regulations," said Dan Krober, an engineer with Milone and McBroom.
The site consists of two lots that together are a hair under an acre, he said. The existing building will be demolished and the employees relocated to space across the street during the construction phase, he said.
The new facility will include more parking -- 54 spaces, where only 21 are required -- and improved landscaping, with more green space and more trees.
"It is quite an upgrade," Krober said. "The traffic circulation will be fantastic."
There will be a crosswalk installed on Worth Avenue to allow employees to safely walk from the main building to the AAA-owned building across the street.
"We want them to be able to cross in a safe manner," Krober said.
The main customer entrance will be moved to the back of the building, Asst. Planner Dan Kops said.
"This plan represents a significant improvement in parking, layout and landscaping," he said.
"We are working toward having our first poster child" for the new regulations, said Town Planner Leslie Creane.