Wouldn't this be less of an impact than other retail options?
The zoning amendment allows Tesla three uses: service, sales, and destination charging. All three of those uses will primarily be attracting new cars to our roads—either current and future Tesla owners from throughout lower Connecticut or long-distance travelers heading up and down I-95. While it's likely true that a busy grocery store at the 20 Saugatuck Avenue site would mean more cars in and out of that particular lot, those would primarily be local trips—in other words, cars already on our roads. And no one takes their groceries out for a test drive. Having more services in the neighborhood could in fact reduce traffic by allowing Saugatuck residents to walk to a store or pharmacy instead of having to drive to the Post Road.
What does a Tesla dealer look like?
They look like a car dealerships, not the fancy storefront galleries you see in malls or on Greenwich Avenue. You can look up their other locations on the Tesla Motors website. They mostly neighbor other car dealerships and box stores on busy commercial strips. There doesn’t appear to be a single example of another location similar to this Saugatuck proposal. (We’d invite Tesla to offer such an example if there is one.)
Doesn’t Tesla sell less than 100,000 cars a year?
Make no mistake, this will very quickly become a very busy location. The number of Teslas in CT will at least double this year into next as the more affordable Model 3 becomes available. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk says the company will be selling around one million cars in the U.S. within three years. Mr. Barr’s proposed zoning language does nothing to protect Saugatuck from Tesla doing whatever it takes to meet those targets—from, for example, filling that lot with Model 3s that are constantly looping around the neighborhood, or from delivering and selling hundreds of cars from Saugatuck Avenue every year.
If Tesla is so bad, what would the neighbors want at this location instead?
Anything allowed by the current zoning. When most of use bought our houses, we read the zoning regulations closely and determined that we’d be willing to live with the approved uses outlined in RORD #2, even though we ultimately wouldn’t get to choose the exact tenant. We welcome the landlord to find tenants consistent with the current regulations. Most of those uses—offices, grocery stores, restaurants, retail—would all be better and more useful for the immediate neighborhood than a Tesla dealership, even though they will all mean more noise and traffic than the currently vacant lot.