THOMASTON — The Inland Wetlands and Watercourse Commission, meeting on Wednesday, June 26, approved applications and reviewed legal matters with a property owner on Reynolds Bridge Road.
The commission unanimously passed the appointment of Land Use Administrator/Wetland Enforcement Officer Stacey Sefcik.
The board considered an application submitted by Timothy Ferris, continued from a previous meeting, in which Mr. Ferris seeks to install two culvert pipes to convey a regulated intermittent watercourse and stormwater through and under his property to an adjacent trench at 26 Laurel Dr.
Chairman Joseph Fainer was concerned that Mr. Ferris does not have formally written consent from the owners of the adjacent property.
As a result, Chairman Fainer asked for documentation from the neighbors granting authorization of the project and requiring the neighbors to co-sign the application for the IWWC.
Mr. Ferris authorized a second 30-day extension of the application, which will last until Tuesday, July 30.
The second item of previous business was to approve an application issued by CT Sweet Peet LLC and its plan to store bulk materials in cement block bins at 592 Hill Rd. The materials include manure, mulch, stone and gravel used to create an organic mulch product.
The company currently maintains storage facilities in Bethlehem, Cornwall and Watertown.
Owner Lou Cavallo said they will begin transitioning from the Watertown property to the Thomaston space and store materials at their newest facility.
Discussions ensued about loading pads, where vehicles can be parked on the property, as well as obtaining a variance to park equipment in additional locations.
Conversation ensued regarding “nutrient unloading” and the company’s business practices.
When asked about the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio in the manure and its potential effects on the environment, Mr. Cavallo assured the commission that the ratio is 200-1, a low concentration of nitrogen in comparison to similar products.
He clarified the differences between horse and cow manure, noting their company does not handle cow manure due to its wet and sticky nature, versus the dry and usually compact properties of horse manure, which is eventually used to create the wholesale organic mulch product.
The commission was concerned with pond seepage, but Mr. Cavallo explained how he drains the pond based on weather predictions to prevent overflow.
With the busy season from April through October, Mr. Cavallo said that manure will be brought in throughout the off-season until the site is filled, which they plan on permanently owning, instead of renting property in Watertown.
Shrinking by 50 percent, the manure used to create organic mulch is stored at 180 degrees Fahrenheit and kept sealed to prevent from any spillage onto the property.
Vice Chairman Anthony Samela made a motion to approve Sweet Peet’s application upon the contingency that Mr. Cavallo obtain the proper permit from the state of Connecticut and DEEP.
As a result, the motion was unanimously passed.
In other news, applicant George Porter requested approval of the installation of a septic system at 91 Trestle Ln.
The application was unanimously accepted and moved to a public hearing for the next meeting, which will take place on Wednesday, July 24.
Officer Sefcik provided status reports regarding multiple ongoing matters in Thomaston, including potential wetlands violations at 213 Bristol St.
She told the commission that she recently visited the Thomaston High School softball field, where erosion issues have been reported.
Officer Sefcik said she will be in touch with the First Selectman’s office to determine who will take ownership and responsibility of repairs to the softball field.
Chairman Fainer added his support, reminding the commission that the school year has concluded, which would allow for a quick resolution during the summer months before the next school session starts.
A major component of the meeting consisted of an encounter between the commission and Ryan R. Geddes, Jr., and his attorney Michael Fasano, regarding the stipulated judgment for Mr. Geddes’ property at 280 Reynolds Bridge Rd.
“There has been a long-standing history of wetlands enforcement at this property,” Officer Sefcik told the Town Times.
On April 11, 2018, a stipulated judgment had been agreed to by all parties and was approved and filed by the Superior Court of Litchfield in Torrington.
The judgment outlined a list of items, including specific deadlines that must be adhered to in compliance with the stipulated judgment as well as the agreement of both parties.
Officer Sefcik informed the Town Times that many of those dates have already passed.
The purpose of Mr. Geddes’ and Attorney Fasano’s meeting with the commission was to get an update from Mr. Geddes and Attorney Fasano regarding their progress and compliance with the agreed terms.
Following a conversation between the IWWC and Mr. Geddes, Mr. Geddes agreed to provide hard copies of site plans and schematics to Officer Sefcik that were originally emailed to former Officer Jeremy Leifert earlier this spring.
“Follow the emails,” Mr. Geddes said to the commission.
Attorney Fasano advised the commission to inspect Mr. Leifert’s work computer to obtain the full email chain of correspondence between Mr. Leifert and Mr. Geddes throughout the past year, and especially Wednesday, March 27, when Mr. Geddes allegedly shared site plans and other documents with Mr. Leifert.
Recently, a professional engineer surveyed and evaluated the property.
Chairman Fainer inquired if Mr. Geddes and his attorney would issue any formally written rebuttal to the report, aside from their verbal comments presented at the IWWC meeting.
Mr Geddes’ attorney notified the commission that he received a certified letter only a day prior to the meeting from the town’s engineer report and comments, which was not enough time for him to draft a formal rebuttal before the meeting.
The commission granted Attorney Fasano additional time to produce a summation statement for the commission’s review.
An executive session took place regarding the legal strategy for the Reynolds Bridge Road property.
The commission decided to table the topic until the July regular meeting, allowing Mr. Geddes and his attorney to collect their materials.
“To date, I have not yet received them,” Officer Sefcik told the Town Times.