Is Chamard Vineyards planning a 130-seat restaurant, or not? How many parking spaces do they use now and how many more are they asking for? Will they be building a new parking lot or using one they already have? Are they planning to use their Airline Road access street or not? Are they planning on new programs at the vineyard such as arts & crafts, blacksmithing and quilting, or not? Do they grow their own grapes for their own wine or buy everything offsite?
These were the questions asked over and over by a large group of neighbors hoping to get concrete answers. Many of them left the meeting frustrated that their questions were not answered.
Neighbor Sandi Bogucki summed it up best when she said that everything she has read is different from what she has heard.
"I went to town hall and read the file," said Bogucki. "What's in the file is different from what we are hearing tonight."
The July 23 meeting was held at the Community Room at the Clinton Police Department and conducted by the Board of Police Commissioners who are also the traffic authority for the town. It was advertised as asking those with concerns over the traffic and future traffic at Chamard to attend and voice their views and concerns.
Representing Chamard Vineyards was their new consultant, Peter DeMallie, president and CEO of Design Professionals from South Windsor, and Andrew Krar, a licensed professional engineer with the firm.
DeMallie said he and his firm were "recently engaged by Chamard to look at traffic in the area, its history, and any modifications that might be necessary as a result of their proposed new use."
DeMallie said that Chamard is not operating in a positive cash flow and "needs to grow their revenue stream."
"If they don't have the revenue, the vineyard will become another use," he noted, saying that there are other uses allowed in that zone such as residential dwellings.
Board of Police Commissioners chairman Ed O'Connor make it clear that no decisions were going to be made that night.
"We will table any action until after the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) meets on Chamard's application," said O'Connor.
The PZC's next scheduled meeting is Monday, July 30 at 7pm at town hall.
Here are some excerpts of what the consultants DeMallie and Krar had to say:
- On a very good day, 250 people will visit the vineyard.
- They are allowed to have up to 8 special events a year such as weddings.
- They have five full-time employees and 25 part-time employees.
- There is an application before the PZC for a 35-seat bistro.
- They currently have two parking lots - one with 8 spaces and one with 67 spaces, for a total of 75 spaces. They are not looking to build any additional parking.
- They are not proposing a new 130 seat restaurant. They want the ability to serve food to people in and around the vineyard - at the patio, deck, wine tasting bar, barn and picnic tables.
- Tourism buses are allowed to go in and out of the vineyards.
- The largest amount of visitor vehicles they counted last weekend (July 21-21) at Chamard was 29 cars.
- For their traffic study, they counted 135 cars traveling northbound and 96 traveling southbound on Cow Hill Road near Chamard from 5-6pm on Thursday, July 19.
- In another traffic study conducted on Saturday, July 21 from noon to 1pm, 119 cars traveled northbound and 125 cars traveled southbound at the same area of Cow Hill Road.
Here are questions/comments/suggestions/complaints from the neighbors:
- We are here because of three evenings in June when we witnessed tons of traffic and 300 cars left the vineyard after 10pm at night.
- I cannot take my children for a walk or bike ride on Airline Road due to the speeding and drinking. We fear for our lives.
- People pull into my driveway all the time and turn around to get to Chamard.
- I hope safety issues are addressed in this traffic study.
- Cow Hill Road is a disaster - it is curvy with telephone poles and trees on the very edge of the road.
- The amount of large delivery trucks with food and beer going in and out worries me.
- When Chamard's parking lot is full, people park on the street in front of my house. Will they soon park in my driveway?
- I'd like to see someone examine, study and report on the drinking issue.
- We want to enjoy the quality of life we have in our residential neighborhood.
- Not being able to run their business is the vineyard's problem, not ours.
- The new owner of the vineyard is an "absentee" owner.