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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

Bernard Kokinchak January 06, 2014 at 03:50 PM
I think the movie theater would be good thing for the town of Southbury. I also do not think the small town feel will not be ruin by such development. In fact think would add to net befit. This allow an outlet for young and old people to go that would be mutual befit. Think come to people argue about the theater and traffic situation which I believe to be non-unique situation to Main Street South would exist with or without the theater being built. Town is always changing. The change is neither good or bad, but rather fact life. In this case I think change is good the zoning regulations to allow all the positive come with move theater. The first allow place people go that non - alcohol place entertainment. The Second being I do not have go Danbury, or Waterbury go to movies. The Third is it could increase the property value of the grand list. The Fourth thing is this movie theater complex will theater for hearing impair. This net befit too because only few theaters around that will have this feature too it. This win win for Southbury and her people.
Greg Kuehn January 06, 2014 at 05:50 PM
Wondering: Does the proposed amendment of zoning regulations enhance the Town of Southbury in a manner that is in line with the planning of the town? Time to read Section 12.
Greg Kuehn January 06, 2014 at 06:02 PM
Here's a phrase that seems to keep coming up in regulations: "consistent with the character of the Town." If the development of this multiplex is not consistent with the character of Southbury, I don't see how this development could be approved. What criteria is used to establish "consistency" of character?
Lyle Murphy January 06, 2014 at 06:15 PM
It seems like a bad idea to have such a large single building that could fail. Danbury is only 20mins away and so is waterbury plus they have the newest technology with director and 3-d seating. I think a small mini-mall with restaurants and shops would be a better use of the space. This type of large theater would benefit a few families greatly and a handful others, slightly. The big question is, Which would benefit more people, a movie theater with 20 employees or 15 small business' with 100? If we are considering a theater I would advocate for a Newtown style theater and playhouse. When I picture smaller successful places I think of , Ridgefield Playhouse, Clinton Crossing Outlets and the Edmund Town Hall Theater.
town news January 06, 2014 at 07:38 PM
Send the developer to Oxford. Plenty of land and low taxes.
Claudia Chapman January 06, 2014 at 11:26 PM
Lorien Crow: Please elaborate. What exactly is the proposed amendment? Is it simply to allow eight screens rather than two, but with the same seating capacity which has already been approved for this location? Your article does not make this clear and neither does the link you provide.
Southbury Joe January 07, 2014 at 09:27 AM
You will lose the small town feel that most of us, who have worked very hard to afford to live here, sought out when choosing where to raise our families. This establishment will surely change the fabric of our town. The small New England town feel will be gone. Do you want to achieve a mini Waterbury / Danbury here just for the sake of convenience...so you can be at the movie theater in 5 minutes as opposed to 20 minutes? Are you willing to inconvenience everything else you have to do in town now because you have to navigate through the traffic? Will Southbury small business owners be happy when they realize we're taking a short ride to neighboring towns to get ice cream, pizza, or a hamburger, because we don't want to deal with trying to get through S.Main St. to get there? I'll go to Middlebury now for FroYo...I'll go to Woodbury to Build-A-Burger instead of Denmo's....etc, etc, etc. In addition, what worked for the movie theater industry long ago (multiplex / megaplex theaters) will be their downfall. Movie ticket sales have been steadily declining. We've watched record stores, video rental giants, bookstore giants, and others really suffer when confronted with new technology (remember Blockbuster, Borders..and so on). How long do you think it will be before technology and the movie industry allow us to view first run movies at home? Want to see a huge empty building in Southbury in a few years....build a multiplex here and just watch it happen. Oh yeah...that'll be great for home values too. The downside far outweighs the upside here. We can't have urban benefits and keep our small town feel which would clearly be jeopardized by this type of establishment. Make your voices heard on Wednesday! Keep Southbury....Southbury.
Lorien Crow (Editor) 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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