A driving school with 10 Fairfield County locations is seeking to open up on Cherry Street in New Canaan.
Fresh Green Light Driving School has applied to the Planning & Zoning Commission for site plan approval at 111 Cherry St., a site that includes Swirl frozen yogurt shop, Club Sandwich, a salon and podiatrist Dr. Jennifer Tauber. Owned by Cherry Street LLC, the property is in the Business A Zone.
According to its website, Fresh Green Light was founded by Laura Shuler and Steve Mochel, parents to four children, seeking to improve safety and confidence among teenage drivers.
Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations for the Business A Zone, any non-office use is permitted with site plan approval and general office use is permitted so long as no more than 10,000 square feet is used as such in any one building, unless permitted by Special Permit (see page 77). Also under the Regulations, with site plan approval, “service establishments, provided that such operations which involve outdoor storage of equipment, supplies or products shall be located on a lot containing at least 80,000 square feet.”
P&Z is scheduled to take up the application at its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
If approved, Green Light would join a local market in New Canaan long served by Lewis School of Driving, where generations of local teens have learned to drive since it was established 50 years ago.
The school plans to use part of its space as a “retail point of sale office and classroom where students will spend time undergoing school training,” according to applicant information cited by the town planner.
“Additionally, Fresh Greenlight Driving School will maintain two driving school motor vehicles on site for student instruction.”
According to the planner, a driving school “is not clearly defined in the Regulations and there are limited examples of this type of use in town.”
“Academy Driving School operated out of the Outback Teen Center in the mid-2000s,” the planner wrote in her memo to P&Z. “When one considers a driving school, it includes aspects of a personal service establishment, retail and office. The driving school is providing a product (lessons).”
The site would be used primarily by teens learning to drive, with about 10 to 12 students there at a given time. Town Planner Lynn Brooks Avni in her memo recommended classifying the driving school as a general office, and the space is well below the maximum 10,000 square feet.
“The proposed use is compatible with the other stores/uses at the shopping center,” she said in the memo.