MONROE — The Planning and Zoning Commission officially closed a Public Hearing for a fill permit for 64 Cambridge Dr./4 Independence Dr. at 9:28 p.m. Thursday, January 6, bringing to a close this portion of the ongoing saga surrounding what is generally referred to in town as the “quarry.”
Excluding any possible extensions, the commission now has 65 days to decide whether or not to grant the fill permit needed to complete remediation work previously approved by the Inland Wetlands Commission.
Making that decision will be the five regular seated members of the commission: Chairman Michael O’Reilly, Vice Chairman Bruno Maini, Secretary Ryan Condon and members Leon Ambrosey and Robert Westlund.
The hearing provided one last opportunity for the applicant, the intervenor, the public and the commission to ask questions or provide testimony.
Only one member of the public spoke up, Ron Bunovsky, who said he had been following the issue very carefully over the past two years. He described the land as a natural habitat and a prime water source, noting that the water supply there feeds the Poquonock River, which in turn feeds two reservoirs, one in Easton and one in Shelton.
The water supply is considered a GAA water source and, in his opinion, should never have been allowed to be developed. He questioned how the land could have been over-excavated without anyone in town noticing until recently, and he decried the fact that the previous owner, New England Materials, will likely get away “scot-free.”
He also questioned if Aquarion, as the local water company, had been consulted on the proposal.
Engineer Kevin Solli, representing the applicants, said Aquarion was notified as a direct abutter. The company had also received complaints from the intervenor. As a result, the company had been out and inspected the property and reviewed the plans. They expressed no concern.
Attorney Stephen Finn, representing the applicants, reminded the commission that the proposed fill plan was an attempt to remediate the condition of the wetlands on the property and that plan had been approved by the town’s Inland Wetlands Commission.
Attorney Joel Green, representing the intervenor, Peter Metropoulis, provided a list of questions he felt should be answered before the commission votes on the application. Those questions included what materials would be leaving the site, how would it be handled, and where it would be going.
He also continued to protest that there should be further testing of materials stockpiled on the site. He opined that there were large amounts of asphalt and concrete with rebar buried on the site and that any processing on-site of those materials should be considered a recycling facility.
Managing partner Arnold Karp responded by saying that some loads would be charged for disposal, based on what types of materials were in there and how much processing would be required. Other loads would be purchased by the applicant. He said it was difficult to say what materials might be available in the future.
He mentioned that over the past two years, as he attempted to move through the land use process in town, he has had to turn down loads of good, clean materials that would have made good fill for the property.
Mr. Karp spent a few minutes describing the process by which material on site would be handled and then placed into stacks and compacted in order to provide good footing for a future building. All material on-site would be handled and processed, Mr. Solli said. The only material that would be leaving the site would be material like rebar if it is found, he said.
At one point during the hearing, alternate Domenic Paniccia asked if the previous owner had any financial interest remaining in the property. Mr. Karp said he did not.
Following the closing of the hearing, the commission decided it would begin its deliberations. Mr. O’Reilly called the application a fairly simple one, noting that the applicant seemed willing to do just about whatever was asked to move the project forward.
As to the questions about what is currently on the site, Mr. O’Reilly said that there has been an “exhaustive study of what’s on site now.”
Mr. Ambrosey again expressed concern about groundwater, saying that water could travel to other areas in town. Mr. Condon countered, however, that they currently have an applicant before them who seemed willing to do the right thing. He said the application before them was just for the filling and any future development proposal would have to come back before the commission for approval. The commission could always choose to deny any future building on the property, he said.
The commission eventually settled on having staff develop a draft approval for its review at a future meeting. That draft would include a proposal to piggy-back onto the Inland Wetlands Commission’s use of an outside consultant for monitoring.
Town Planner Rick Schultz said he would develop some wording with staff input as to what might be included.