MONROE, CT — John Murphy and his wife are concerned over potential damage to their residential property on Applegate Lane from blasting being proposed at 125 Garder Road, as well as noise from rock crushing and traffic safety at the intersection.
Grasso Companies, the owner of 125 Garder Road, applied for an excavation and fill permit to prepare its 9.5-acre-property for the construction of two industrial buildings.
“You not only have to worry about our foundations and the wells on Garder Road, you have to worry about our septics,” Murphy told the Planning and Zoning Commission during a hearing Thursday night. “If something goes wrong, I think I know who I’d turn to.”
The developer promised to offer seismographs to neighboring property owners who want one on their property and Murphy said he would request one.
Murphy also asked if the entrance to the property had to be on Garder Road, which is a scenic road, or if there is another option.
Chris Pawlowski, a civil engineer with Solli Engineering, a representative of the applicant, said 125 Garder Road is surrounded by state-owned land and town open space, so an entrance at Garder Road is the only option.
Pawlowski said a lot of the blasting would take place to the north of the property, while Applegate Lane is further away to the south.
Robert Westlund, a commissioner, asked about Murphy’s concerns over his septic system being damaged by blasting, and if there were any problems with this kind of issue in the past.
Kevin Solli, principal of Solli Engineering, said he is not aware of any impact to septic systems, because it does not change how a septic system functions.
Westlund said he cannot think of any way blasting would affect a septic system either, other than by breaking a pipe.
Solli said a pre-blast survey is part of the process, so neighboring property owners can document the condition of their foundations and wells before blasting.
“I see homeowners refuse that, but the reason for the survey is to protect them,” Solli said, adding it is hard to be compensated for a damage claim without any documentation.
Pawlowski asked for a continuance of the hearing, because his client’s wetlands application is still awaiting a decision. The zoning hearing was continued to Feb. 9.
Pawlowski also shared changes made to the plan in response to Planning and Zoning Commission members’ concerns.
Among them was the duration of the earthwork and blasting, so the applicant reduced it from five to two years. If the work is not done in two years, the developer would have to request an extension for his permit.
The two building pads would still be flat, but they raised the level of the land around it, so instead of 110,000 cubic yards of material being removed from the site, 81,700 would be, reducing the amount of blasting and crushing that would be needed.
The applicant agreed to monthly or quarterly reports with periodic drone surveys, so commissioners can follow the progress of the earthwork.
In the future, when a proposed development comes forward, Pawlowski said it would require a site and road design.
Eventually, he said his client wants to turn the property into something profitable that brings tax revenue to the town.
“I have concerns about the hours of crushing,” said Leon Ambrosey, a commissioner. “We don’t have to approve crushing on this site.”
Pawlowski showed the commission guidelines for blasting and crushing. All operations on the site are limited to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, unless there is an approval from the commission.
No activity can be done during a legal national or state holiday.
Truck traffic would be limited to between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.
Days and times for blasting would be limited to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pawlowski said neighboring property owners would always be notified before a blast.
A water truck and water storage tank with a pump would be kept onsite at all times for dust suppression.
“Any chance of tightening the timeline to less-than-two-years?” Westlund asked.
“Twenty-four months, it happens fast,” Solli said. “Two years comes at you quick.”
Solli reminded commissioners that monthly reports would allow them to see the progress of the work. “I think with the measures we proposed, the commission should have comfort it will have a close eye on this,” he said.
Westlund noted how there have been excavation and fill permit applications in the past with conceptual plans for buildings that were never built, resulting in quarrying operations.
“We don’t see an end game of where you’re going,” Westlund said. “I think that’s where some of the concerns come from.”
“There’s clearly a lot of angst and concern with these kind of activities,” Solli said.
Vice Chairman Bruno Maini said the equipment list “is a lot”. He also asked if the material from blasting would be piled on the site before being taken away, and where it would be taken to.
Pawlowski said some materials would be piled, but not a lot, adding it is hard to estimate how much.
Solli said he could not guarantee processed material would be removed from the site right away, because there is some ebb and flow to the work.
Solli also said permits say how long an applicant has to complete the work, and the methods of how it is completed are up to the applicant. He said there is no precedent “in town or anywhere” for the work to be dictated by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
He said Grasso’s company will take all of the material and use it for its own jobs.
“They do multimillion dollar site jobs,” Pawlowski said. “Many jobs at different locations.”