Cannondale bicycles: Road to retail store may be rough

A plan to open a multi-brand retail store at the anticipated Cannondale Sports Unlimited headquarters in Wilton may not conform to zoning regulations at the Danbury Road site.

According to an email exchange with Jessica Antle, a representative of Cannondale Sports Unlimited, the company currently plans to open a retail store that will be “co-located within our corporate headquarters,” and be consistent with another Cannondale retail store.

“There will be no price advantage ahead of retailers,” Ms. Antle went on to say, “so consumers will not be able to get a better deal at our store than at a local retailer.”

Ms. Antle told The Bulletin on Tuesday this plan was “not a secret,” but on Monday evening, First Selectman Bill Brennan said he was not aware of the company’s plan to open a retail store at the headquarters and that it had not been a subject of discussion with his office.

Cannondale’s planned headquarters is located within a “design enterprise” zoning district, which has specific restrictions on use of the property. This type of zoning district is defined by section 29-7 of the Wilton Zoning Regulations.

According to Town Planner Bob Nerney, this type of district is intended to allow corporate offices relative respite from the “comings and goings” of public access.

“From a land-use perspective, you look at what impact [a specific use] will have on the comings and goings of large volumes of traffic,” he said. “That can sometimes be detrimental to an office park setting. I think that, in this kind of zone, there are things that are part and parcel: community outreach, testing of products, and showcasing evolving technology. ”

While certain public uses are allowed under the regulation, Mr.  Nerney said a static retail space is not.

“We do allow ancillary showroom-type space, but in terms of — for instance — a 7-Eleven convenience store, or the kinds of places you see across the street at the Gateway Shopping Center, this is not zoned for things like that,” Mr.  Nerney said.

The regulations do allow for some marketing-type activities, Mr.  Nerney said.

“If it were part of marketing, something where people were testing products, or where the business could meet with retailers to showcase products,” it would be allowed, he said. “For instance, special events are allowed up to two times per year. Some occupants do take advantage of that. But that is more of a temporary thing.”

Some special exceptions, he said, are wellness-oriented public access buildings.

“On the other hand,” he said, “i.Park does cater to wellness. The health club is allowed by special permit. Medical offices are uses allowed by right, and you have Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, which is a social service based agency. These uses are, by their nature, geared toward attracting a certain number of coming and going of the public.”