What happens with a downtrodden property in the middle of Bantam’s invigorated commercial zone will be up to the Bantam Zoning Board of Appeals.
SRC Motorsports of Goshen desires to use a former gas station and repair shop at 827 Bantam Road as a repair shop and for auto sales. The proposal would need approval from the Bantam Planning and Zoning Commission, but first needs to pass muster with the ZBA.
The property has sent empty for a decade and is regarded as an eyesore among the well-kept commercial properties in the center of Bantam. It’s owned by the Patterson Oil Co. of Torrington, which limits its work on the property to cutting weeds growing in front of the building.
ZBA is involved because state law requires zoning boards of appeals to consider land-use applications from auto repair and sales businesses before planning and zoning commissions get involved.
The ZBA held its first meeting on the matter last Wednesday. It has 65 days to render a decision. Approval must also be granted by the town’s fire marshal and building inspector before the proposal could go to planning and zoning.
Wednesday’s meeting saw several Bantam residents and the owners of Arethusa Farm and Brierwood Nursery turn out to express concern not only about the proposed use of the property but also its woebegone condition.
George Malkemus, an owner of Arethusa Farm, which has its dairy store, restaurant and coffee shop in the center of Bantam, said he’s offered to buy the property several times without luck and accused the Patterson Oil Co. of discriminating against him by refusing the offers.
Arethusa, Malkemus said, would transform the property into something Bantam deserves. Gloria and Dan Masopust, owners of Brierwood Nursery, also criticized Patterson for letting its property decay and said the proposed plan for it is lacking in detail.
The plan for the shows new pavement around the building, 14 parking spaces, repairs to a retaining wall, and removal of a fence. Repairs to the building would be made as well, according to the engineer for the proposed project, David R. Wilson of Litchfield.