On June 23, we asked for your suggestions on what you'd like to see done with the . The former elementary school on Cedar Grove Ave. was built in 1962 and closed in 2006. It was sold to developer Peter Levine, who planned to put condominium units on the site; this plan never came to fruition due to the real estate slump, but Levine still owns the property as well as a nearby parcel on Colman Street.
This article brought about several suggestions, including:
- A manufacturing facility or other business capable of employing significant numbers of local residents
- A community center
- A green technology or biotech firm
- A recreational business such as a water park or miniature golf course
- Expanded space for the
- A Stew Leonard's or other grocery store
- An IKEA store
Shelly Briscoe, land use assistant with the , said the school sits in a limited commercial district. The purpose of this district is to "provide for limited commercial development located along major arterials."
Permitted development in this zone can include retail businesses and performing arts businesses operating between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. With a special permit by the Planning and Zoning Commission, businesses may also operate between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. or offer recreational activities such as bowling or tennis.
The development of an amusement center on the site includes the ironic condition that the center will have to be at least 1,500 feet from a school building, playground, or church and at least 500 feet from a residence. It would also require the approval of the .
For any day care services, the Drop-In Learning Center would have to be fully registered and licensed, provide at least 35 square feet of space per child (excluding halls, bathrooms, and kitchens) and 75 square feet of space per child of exterior open space. The Planning and Zoning Commission could allow substitution of interior space if it determines that the aggregate space to be provided is sufficient. Other restrictions would require play areas to be audibly and visually screened from neighboring properties.
"More details about the suggestion for a community center would be needed to determine how the use would be classified before determining if it would be permitted and if so, administratively or by the issuance of a special permit by the Planning and Zoning Commission," said Briscoe.
The zoning regulations forbid the creation of a manufacturing company or laboratory on the site. The zoning enforcement officer would also need to review parking requirements, and the applicant would have to receive a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals if the requirements are not met.