P&Z was right to deny health center application

After two meetings and several hours of presentations and residents’ comments during two public hearings, the Planning and Zoning Commission decided against granting a special use permit application to convert the Winsted Super Saver IGA, located at 372 Main St., into a medical clinic for Community Health and Wellness of Greater Torrington.

It was a very tough decision for the commission, filled with emotion on all sides, with many residents sad to see grocery store owner John Dwan announce his eventual retirement and closing of the grocery store.

Before anything, we need to point out that no one at those two hearings should be vilified in any way, because everyone at both hearings all wanted the same thing, which is to do what is best for the community.

However, the people at these hearings had different visions of what is best, and there is nothing wrong with that.

This is what town commissions are for, to review proposals, plans and visions in order to determine whether or not they fit into the community.

We believe that the commission did a thorough job of reviewing the clinic’s application, from listening to each and every resident at two separate public hearings, to reviewing the conditions for special permits as it pertained to the clinic’s application.

We also believe that the commission did a fine job of separating emotion from fact, which we believe must have been very tough at times.

Many, if not most of the residents at the hearing have shopped at the Super Saver.

While no one in the room could have ever changed the fact that Dwan is going to eventually shut down the store, the commission took its time in reviewing whether or not a clinic would be able to fit into the downtown Main Street area.

After some thorough consideration the commission determined that it would not.

The decision was not a result of “closed-minded” people, because if the commission truly were closed-minded they would not have had two separate hearings on the application.

The decision was based on a thorough and public review of zoning regulations and the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

The fact of the matter, as commission members pointed out, is that the Super Saver IGA location is a central hub of retail for the community.

It has been that way for many years. Changing it around to a different use would cause a disruption to retail to the central part of Main Street.

While the center’s application has been rejected, we are hopeful that they will decide on staying in Winsted.

There are several vacant spaces in Winsted that may be suitable for the center, including the Bank of America location that soon will be vacant once the company discontinues the branch.

As for the Super Saver IGA location, the town’s economic development leaders now must focus on finding a suitable tenant for the location.

Fully assisting Dwan find a new tenant for the building would be a great way for the town to fully thank him for all of his years in Winsted.

At both hearings, it was said by several people that, if the permit for the health center was not approved, that the building space at Super Saver IGA would become dark, practically giving a grim outlook on the situation.

Considering how other buildings in the area that were previously dark have been filled over the years, including several restaurant locations and the duckpin bowling alley, we do not share the same grim outlook.

We do think it is possible for another grocery store to be at the Super Saver IGA when it closes.

In the meantime, on Saturday, April 15, at 11 a.m. at the Community Bookstore on 414 Main St., there will be a public meeting on potentially forming a food co-op in Winsted.

Residents should attend the meeting to discuss the potential options of filling the future needs of the community once Super Saver IGA closes.