Dispute over earth work on industrial site continues

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Zoning Enforcement Officer Joseph Chapman filed a cease and desist order to stop commercial quarry activities at Independence and Cambridge drives. Contributed

MONROE, CT — Peter Metropoulos wrote a letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission alleging the owner of industrial property on Cambridge and Independence drive is violating a cease and desist order barring the unauthorized import and export of earth and building materials from the site. It included photos of trucks carrying fill there.

Metropoulos, who owns 36 Timothy Hill Road near the site, is an intervenor on the developer’s Inland Wetlands Commission application to clean up the site, which if rife with violations from the previous owner, and to restore the wetlands.

Arnold Karp, the new owner of the property, told the Planning and Zoning Commission his attorney will respond to Metropoulos’s “overstated issues” in writing. But at its meeting last week, the consensus of the commission was to file a citation order to stop the un-permitted work.

Town Planner Rick Schultz said Zoning Enforcement Officer Joe Chapman has seen trucks carrying fill in and out of the site.

Leon Ambrosey, a commissioner, asked if there were fill permits for the site and Schultz said no.

“Why is it continuing to go on without a citation?” Ambrosey asked.

“If we sent them a cease and desist and they’re not abiding by it, it’s time to move forward with the next step,” Ryan Condon, a commissioner, agreed.

Vice Chairman Michael O’Reilly, who served as chairman at the meeting in William Porter’s absence, said the commission’s land use attorney recommended waiting until after testimony is given at the next Inland Wetlands Commission meeting.

“I believe that they wanted an administrative solution to this versus a legal solution and they feel with the wetlands committee they will have power at that point to restrict anything coming in or going out,” O’Reilly explained.

O’Reilly expressed his belief that the applicant’s wish for approval from inland wetlands would compel him to do the right things.

“Well, if they don’t get it though, won’t they just keep doing exactly what they’re doing?” Condon asked.

“He’s exactly right,” Ambrosey agreed.

William Agresta, the town’s planning and zoning administrator, said the developer is working to address wetlands issues and a large hole in the ground on the site with Inland Wetlands and plans to come forward with a building permit. But the issue of trucks going in and out is not handled by Inland Wetlands.

“Have they ever had an export permit there besides what they were supposed to take off for a certain amount of yardage — that was way over exceeded?” Ambrosey asked.

“That is not permitted,” Schultz said.

Ambrosey asked if any documentation on fill was recorded with the town and Schultz said the town has not received a manifest.

“So why are we continuing to let that go on,” Ambrosey asked, “and then for them to bring in fill, process fill, put fill into the hole, which we don’t even know what they’re bringing in. Then material is leaving.”

“I have concerns that maybe the neighboring guy could have a little bit of problem with it, because he doesn’t know what they’re bringing in there and we don’t even know what they’re bringing in there,” Ambrosey continued, “so why are we continuing to let that go on? I think commissioners should weigh in on that, because we’re elected by the town.”

O’Reilly asked Schultz what the commission’s options were aside from following the advice of its attorney. Schultz said legal counsel would also give an update at the commission’s Aug. 6 meeting, adding comments from the next inland wetlands meeting would lead to a more detailed recommendation.

Condon asked what steps the board could take on its own to enforce the cease and desist order the town issued on June 24.

Schultz said a citation order could be issued. Then the ZEO would have to hold a hearing within 10 days.

“If they’re still doing what we told them not to do, I would be for doing that,” Condon said.

Robert Westlund, a commission alternate, agreed.

“I feel like, at this point, it’s pretty obvious that we’re being played here,” Westlund said, “and I feel that we have an absolute obligation to protect our local water supply. And if we don’t act on that through a citation and contamination happens, I’ve got to wonder what exposure we’re gonna have to a legal action. I think it’s gone way too far and we should have issued citations a long time ago.”

Ron Schneider, a commission alternate, said, “I’m with Leon as well, and like Rob said, we’re being played. Everything you could possibly do wrong, they’ve been doing — and even when we say cease and desist, they’re still doing it in our face. I don’t think that’s right.”

“I think there should have been a citation a while ago,” he continued. “I think it’s embarrassing. I think when you look at the map of Monroe and you zoom in, anybody, who doesn’t even know anything, would say, ‘what is going on?’ and now that they’re still doing it after a cease and desist, I’d say just issue it.”

“It will be relayed to the zoning officer,” Schultz said.

On Monday, Chapman said the town will wait until after Wednesday’s Inland Wetlands meeting to see if there is any new information before deciding to take any further action.

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