Activity on Route 20 evident amid pending hospital move

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Property where Sears sits is up for sale. Just over 10 acres on East Main Road in the town of Pomfret are on the market. Also sitting on the property are Harborfront Car Care and a residence. All facilities on the property are rented to tenants.

For sale signs are spawning on Route 20 in the town of Pomfret as change could be in midst with Brooks Memorial Hospital’s pending move to the town.

Hospital officials haven’t requested any items such as permits in order to be situated on open land behind 3710-3724 East Main Road. But the move as approved by the hospital’s board of directors in late September appears to be having its impact as for sale signs have gone up directly across the proposed destination of the new facility.

Just over 10 acres are up for sale across the street, and sitting on that property are Sears, which is located in the town’s business highway district, Harborfront Car Care and a residence. All facilities on the property are rented.

The price of the property as posted by Recckio Real Estate and Development Inc. is $975,000. The property listing acknowledges that it would be ideal for a medical park or multi-use with apartments directly across the hospital site.

With property up for sale, uncertainty now surrounds the tenants. Sears has been at its current location on Route 20 around 15 years.

“It’s up in the air,” said Joe Vera, Sears manager. “It’s based on who buys the property and if they rent to us.”

Town Supervisor Don Steger said the hospital move is only being proposed at this point. But if the hospital does come in to the town, Steger said he views it as an anchor for the community for the next 50 to 100 years.

“It’s going to support the surrounding businesses in the area,” he said. “The grand master plan, it would be nice to have a medical park down there (on Route 20). But it’s not anything we’re planning on to this point.”

On top of property for sale across the proposed site, a home down the street is sold while another residence is up for sale. In addition, construction of a dentist office continues near the Route 20 and Christy Street intersection. The dentist office received a variance to operate in an agricultural, residential district.

The hospital’s pending move has brought about concern from nearby residents who don’t want it close to their home — and don’t want to see a change in zoning from agricultural, residential to business highway. During public hearings over the last month, residents filled the town hall to express their disagreement with the proposed hospital site and the town’s consideration of local laws to accommodate such a facility.

Jill Casey, who spoke on behalf of her parents, was among the few who voiced concern. Casey acknowledged that any permitting that accommodates a hospital or businesses at the Route 20 corridor is “completely disrespectful to the taxpayers and residents in an area that’s historically residential.” Casey told the board that the area should be left as is, and businesses interested in locating in the community should be directed to existing, underutilized business districts.