Fairfield approves plans for animal hospital on Hillside Road

Fairfield approves plans for animal hospital on Hillside Road

FAIRFIELD — A proposed veterinary hospital got approval from the Town Plan and Zoning Commission Tuesday night after it was denied last year.

Greenfield Animal Hospital was seeking a special permit application as well as a zoning change to allow them to move their operations from 212 Hillside Road to 40 Hillside Road in the Greenfield Hill area. The plan is to build a 6,289-square-foot animal hospital on an acre or so currently occupied by a church.

The commission voted unanimously to approve both items, adding a condition that the applicant work with the tree warden and the Conservation Department to use as much native foliage as possible. 

According to town documents, John Fallon, the attorney for the animal hospital, said the current location of the business does not have the space it needs to provide care. The plan is notably scaled down from the 7,000 square-foot proposal it was a year ago, and documents note the veterinary hospital’s owner worked with neighbors, who had concerns last year, to make the application possible. The new plan also decreased the total lot coverage and reduced the number of parking spots from 28 to 26. 

Commissioner Alexis Harrison said that, while she was not on the commission when it denied the application a year ago, she reviewed the zone change criteria and believes it satisfies it. She noted the parcel is currently zoned residential, but has not been used as residential for decades.

“This site has already been used as a non-residential use, so the proposed change is not changing from a traditional residential use,” she said. “The change would also help to retain an existing business use already in the neighborhood.”

Harrison said the town’s plan of conservation and development, which is currently being updated, reflects the need for local small business districts supporting the local residential areas.  

“This is likely to be expanded as we update the POCD to reflect current thinking on smart growth, walkable communities with less reliance on driving long distances, and expanded mixed use and local commercial base,” she said. “This zone change would support these planning goals.”

Last year, the commission and plan’s supporters spoke highly of the hospital’s staff and service, but commissioners were concerned the animal hospital would be out of character and too large for the neighborhood. They also worried it would not fit the town’s plan of conservation and development. There were also concerns that allowing this commercial use in the residential area would invite other businesses to attempt to build there as well.

Harrison said area residents now support the proposal and enabling more small businesses to open in the neighborhood.

Commissioner Meg Francis said she respected the effort Dr. Andrew Marsh, the owner of Greenfield Animal Hospital, put in to work with the neighbors and redesign the plans for the new location. She said it would be a great addition to the area. 

Chairman Tom Noonan said the commission always has to be careful about opening up commercial areas in residential zones, adding this plan should be more of an exception than a rule. He said the applicant, who has impacted the community during his time there, is that exception. 

“In the last application, we had strong public support, except from the adjacent neighbors,” he said. “That concerned me, and I think it concerned this commission. They were the ones that were going to be most readily affected. They are now on board with the amendments that have been.” 



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Fairfield approves plans for animal hospital on Hillside Road

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