A Farmington woman named Ann Parker was before the Town Plan and Zoning Commission Tuesday night asking for permission to run a food truck at the shuttered gas station at the corner of Plainville Avenue and Burlington Road.
Parker, who said she has been operating her food truck in Bristol for a dozen years prior, presented a fairly diverse menu to the commission and described an organized operation with business hours between 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
But it wasn’t her methods, hours or business that caused the commission to unanimously reject Parker’s application with some harsh words – it was the location.
“I don’t think this is the right location. This is an already disturbing location to the residents of our town,” commissioner Barbara Brenneman explained to the seemingly bewildered Parker, who had searched the town for a location. “There is still [environmental] remediation there and it’s just been a handicap to our town. I’m afraid we’ll just be adding to an issue that’s not solved.”
Brenneman was the first but not the only commissioner to express that sentiment about the lot, which contains a white abandoned gas station and is home to several trucks and cars. The lot is bordered by woods on two sides, with the two facing the street blocked off with metal chains.
The chains would remain up on the Plainville Avenue side and cars would enter by Burlington Road, Parker explained.
“I’m not against you putting up a food vendor car in town but the place you’re putting it needs a lot of work,” said Jack Matava, a commissioner from Unionville. “The chain that’s up – somebody that’s not familiar with it could see your cart and try to pull in.
“You give us a letter from Bruce [authorizing use of the property] but he’s not the owner of the property and he’s the one that keeps it looking like a dump. I really need to hear from the neighbors before I can support it,” Matava said.
And the neighbors were on hand to share their frustration with the lot.
“Traffic on that corner is unbearable, the building is unbearable and you don’t know what walks around there at night but I do,” said Jo-Ann Riley, who lives across from the garage. “If you have a food truck parked out there at night you’re going to get vermin and if you have a propane truck out there someone could come in and steal it. … There used to be a gas station there that was open and there were accidents numerous times…. It’s not a safe corner.”
Sal Morabito called it “the corner from hell. We’ve all lived with it for a long time… I’m not going to get into some of the stuff that happens there but it’s disturbing.”
Parker stood at the podium, watching her plans fall apart. What if the owner cleaned up the property, she asked.
“He’s not going to clean up that property, ma’am,” Peter Mastrobattista told her. “That property’s been a disaster for years.”