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Public Hearing on Southbury Movie Theater Scheduled for Wednesday

Southbury residents can voice their opinions about the potential movie theater multiplex at Wednesday night's meeting.

The proposed movie theatre would go in this 23-acre parcel of land on Main Street South. Credit: USPS
The proposed movie theatre would go in this 23-acre parcel of land on Main Street South. Credit: USPS
At the Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday, Jan. 8, the public is invited to express their opinions on a proposed 8-screen movie theater and retail complex slated for 690 Main St. South, adjacent to the Southbury Post Office.

According to the proposed meeting agenda, the Zoning Commission will hear a "Petition by Southbury Village Square, LLC to amend the Zoning Regulations (Section 12) for the proposed establishment of a PLANNED DEVELOPMENT DISTRICT (Southbury Riverview Cinema & Playhouse) for the mixed use of a Commercial Building to include the following: Indoor Commercial Theatre (8 screens), Table Service Restaurant, Retail Uses and Services, Residential Apartments..." ***(for more about Section 12, see below)

"At this hearing interested persons can appear and be heard and written communications will be received," the notice also said.

Residents have been heatedly debating the proposal for months, one major concern being how the new businesses would affect traffic on Main St. South.

While several people said it would be nice to have a theater close by, many others contend that such a large development would have a negative impact on Southbury's small-town feel.

Last week, many readers expressed their opinions on Jon Norris' Speak Out post entitled "Stop the Multiplex."

User smoskow282 called the movie theater plan "a bad idea," saying "Main Street cannot handle the traffic volume for an additional 400 parking spaces. This will change our town forever." Ted Brown agreed, saying "I too believe that the town has the beginnings of a serious traffic problem on Main Street - and the addition of an 8 screen multiplex will only make matters worse - especially at the already troubled exit 15."

At a special meeting of the Southbury Planning Commission on Dec. 12, Sharat Kalluri, Senior Transportation Engineer at CDM Smith, reported that the new buildings "will not significantly affect traffic on Main Street South," and also said that "the numbers do not meet the threshold of the requirements for a traffic light," according to the meeting minutes.

The size and scale of the project is also concerning to some residents. In August, Bill said he was "strongly opposed to a movie theater of this size. If we put in a small one or two theater like Newtown, Bethel or New Canaan, I would be ok with that."

However, some readers expressed support for the project, saying it would save movie-goers time and gas money, and provide additional activities for area children and teens.

John said he's "looking forward to having a movie theatre in town," and said he's "not sure why everybody else is panicking." In August, Janice Creighton said "My husband and I rarely go to the movies because we prefer to stay in town, but would certainly enjoy a theater here."

With the approvals process gaining steam, residents can tell town officials exactly what they think about the project this Wednesday, Jan. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Southbury Town Hall, 501 Main St. South, Southbury.

Until then, Angela Tosti Flynn brought up some important questions to consider: "What kind of town do you want Southbury to be? That is the bigger question. It isn't just about a movie theater. Personally I moved here because I wanted to live in a smaller town. As soon as development opens up to this extent the whole climate changes," she said.

***In response to those that asked about Section 12 of the zoning regulations:  I spoke with someone in the Southbury zoning office Tuesday morning. She said that currently, the town zoning regulations allow up to 2 screens, with one designated as a potential live performance venue.

The new proposal, as stated above in the zoning agenda, would include a theater with 8 screens, so the original regulation would need to be amended.

FYI, a link to the town zoning regulations can be found here: http://www.southbury-ct.org/content/994/276/445/default.aspx

Lorien Crow January 07, 2014 at 10:48 AM
Hi readers- Great questions, thank you! I just spoke with someone in the Southbury zoning office. She said that currently, the town zoning regulations allow up to 2 screens, with one designated as a potential live performance venue. The new proposal, as stated above in the zoning agenda, would include a theater with 8 screens, so the original regulation would need to be amended. FYI, a link to the town zoning regulations can be found here: http://www.southbury-ct.org/content/994/276/445/default.aspx
Gary Bertz January 07, 2014 at 11:18 PM
no its just too big, too many movies, we only want a town style not a city style complex
Bernard Kokinchak January 08, 2014 at 12:53 PM
Gary the 8 theater would fit inside 2 regular as already permit by zone regulation. That from document submit to the town.
Southbury Joe January 13, 2014 at 02:43 PM
Don't get caught up on seating capacity. The developers know they can't fill two 600 seat movie theaters. They're splitting this to 8 screens for variety. Basically to fill seats. Choice will bring the crowds and everything else that comes with it.

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