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Liquor Store Plan for “Nicolino’s” Rejected

Planning and Zoning Commission deny application after neighbors objected to the plan.

A divided Hamden Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday rejected a  proposal for a liquor store at 4133 Whitney Ave., the former “Nicolino’s” gift shop.  

The staff of the Town Planner’s office had recommended approval, saying it “should not have an adverse effect on the health, safety and welfare of the public.”  The proposal was in compliance with town laws that require package stores to be at least 1500 feet apart.

But the members of the public who spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting argued otherwise.  Most lived in the Mount Carmel area, like Whitney Avenue resident Gus Spohn, who complained of being awakened frequently by “a steady drumbeat of student parties.”  

Spohn said an additional liquor store would only add to the problem because “instead of having to travel a half-mile or more for liquor, students would be able to walk across the street to get it.”

Resident Sarah Clark brought a “show and tell”: a small collection of bottles and cans found by her mailbox on a recent morning. 

Neighbors also expressed concerns that students crossing a busy street, with no sidewalks, at night and perhaps under the influence, would endanger themselves and drivers. 

Attorney Bernard Pellegrino, representing applicant Chirag Parikh, told commission members there would be no alcohol consumption on the site. The “clear majority” of customers, he said, would come “by vehicular traffic...  which might be different than (liquor) stores in other parts of town."  

Pellegrino warned the commission against going down a “slippery slope” of denying an application because of  “hypothetical potential dangers.” 

Cindy Civitello of the Westwoods Civic Association presented a petition, signed by 51 neighbors, urging the commission to deny Parikh’s application.  Several others sent separate letters opposing the store.

Before the vote, Commissioner Robert Roscow said it would be unfair “to hold this applicant to a higher standard than... a liquor store in another location.” He was one of three commissioners to vote in favor of the application. But four other commissioners voted “no,” and the proposal failed.

Church Approved in Dixwell Avenue Building

The commission unanimously approved a special permit and site plan for the Union Disciple Free Will Baptist Church to use 1025 Dixwell Ave., formerly the Prime Time Martial Arts Academy, as a place of worship.  

Applicant Darrell McClam said the church currently has about 20 active members. The building has 20 parking spaces and can hold a congregation of up to 60 people.

Commissioners also:

  • Released a bond of $126,489 to Ravenswood Construction.   The money was released because the company no longer plans to have a retail building at the Trailside Village condominium complex at 3594 Whitney Ave.;
  • Released a bond of $324,694.50 to Larosa Building Group for 943, 953 and 965 Dixwell Ave., for completion of the Highwood Square mixed-use housing and retail complex; and
  • Released a bond of $117,347.15 to Campo Enterprises, for completion of the Specialty Wire manufacturing plant at 21 Hamden Park Extension. Commissioner Lee Campo recused himself from the vote. (“Can we establish a condition that he takes us out when he gets his money back?” joked Vice-Chair Ann Altman.  “No” came the answer from Chairman Joe McDonagh.  Shortly afterward, the meeting was adjourned.) 

 

 
John Moynihan September 14, 2011 at 01:54 PM
What a shame. The little darlings who now inhabit some of Hamden's once-beautiful, once-private homes along Whitney Avenue (and every other neighborhood in this dorm-town) will have to drive to get beer. Maybe one of our responsible absentee-landlords will buy Nicolino's and put 8 or 10 bedrooms in it for more QU students. 8 or 10 more rental bedrooms in a town that supposedly has a "no more than 4 unrelated adults in one private dwelling" rule.
Angela September 14, 2011 at 03:44 PM
AMEN John. There is only one word for QU students in the neighborhoods....PIGS! What happened to building the huge dorms to get kids OUT of the neighborhoods....hmmmm not working.
Angela September 14, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Commisioner Roscow where do you live? Is it near the site of the proposed liquor store....probably not.
Sick of snobby residents October 28, 2011 at 03:38 AM
Mr Parikh owns another store in Hamden (and has for many years) and has been a responsible and upstanding taxpayer and retailer. Why did the Board hold this man to a different standard than the other liqor stores in the area? And who really believes that anyone with enough money to afford Quinnipiac's high tuition doesn't have a car, and therefore doesn't need to cross "a busy street, with no sidewalks, at night"? Gus Spohn, wouldn't it be better if these students didn't have to drive “a half-mile or more for liquor" and save some gas? And who really thinks that ANY of these self-serving residents really care that any student "would endanger themselves"? I'm willing to bet "Resident Sarah Clark brought a “show and tell”: a small collection of bottles and cans found by her mailbox on a recent morning" came from other than a student putting it there-who would go to the trouble to do so? Perhaps someone who would like to present the "appearance" that students have done so. Attorney Pelligrino was correct in warning "against going down a “slippery slope” of denying an application because of “hypothetical potential dangers"". The Board should have listened to his suggestion. The only facts known are that Mr Parikh is a responsible businessman and that he doesn't cater to cheap beer customers - his target is more high-end wine and specialty beers that are not the typical college student's type of beverage.

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