Hearing on Tesla set for Wednesday | East Hartford

Hearing on Tesla set for Wednesday | East Hartford

EAST HARTFORD — The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday night regarding a permit for a Tesla showroom and service center at 300 Connecticut Blvd.

East Hartford, CT (300 Connecticut) LLC is seeking a special use permit to construct a direct sales showroom and garage for electric vehicles made and sold by Tesla. The agenda also lists a review to modify, suspend or revoke an identical permit by InSite Development Services of Illinois.

In April, the PZC approved the permit for InSite, but the decision was blocked by a lawsuit filed by Hoffman Auto Group claiming the commission made procedural mistakes.

The issue at the center of the lawsuit was an event in March where InSite was involuntarily dissolved by the state of Illinois for failing to pay a fee. A lawyer that represented InSite said the fee was paid quickly and the company would have been considered operational under Illinois law.

The lawsuit was filed in June, and the last action was a motion for extension of time to plead in July.

InSite then formed East Hartford, CT (300 Connecticut) LLC and applied for the same permit under the name of the new entity in May. The public hearing on that application was originally scheduled for June 9, but was ultimately postponed to Aug. 11.

At the time, PZC members said they wanted to wait to hear advice from town lawyers about the pending lawsuit filed by the rival car dealership that lists the town as a defendant.

InSite lawyers indicated that the company could transfer any rights it may have pertaining to the original permit to their newly formed entity.

Tesla has long lobbied to sell its electric cars directly to Connecticut customers. The legislature’s Transportation Committee approved a bill on March 24 that would have cleared the way, but the bill never made it out of committee.

The issue has been debated in Connecticut for years, forcing residents who want to purchase a Tesla to do so in another state.

The Federal Trade Commission and Tesla have stated that selling directly to the consumer reduces end prices, increases consumer choice between industry brands, and gives manufacturers greater control over marketing and sales.

Opponents, including the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the National Automobile Dealers Association, have said the direct sales model reduces price competition, lowers consumer safety and is less committed to investing in local communities.

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