MONROE, CT — Planning and Zoning commissioners approved an excavation and filling permit with conditions for an industrial property in Pepper Street Business Park Thursday night.
The developer needs the permit to restore damaged wetlands while filling in a massive hole left behind from an un-permitted quarrying operation by the previous owner on adjacent properties at 64 Cambridge and 4 Independence drives.
An estimated 27,500 truckloads of imported material, approximately 493,000 cubic yards, will be brought in over a period of five years to fill the hole, while about 118,000 cubic yards of existing material stockpiled on the property will be re-used.
Arnold Karp, managing partner of the property owners, Astro Land Holdings LLC and Spacely Land Holdings LLC, have said they want to restore the wetlands and prepare the site for future development.
Karp and Kevin Solli, principal engineer of Solli Engineering, have assured the commission only clean fill will be brought to the site and that the site will not turn into a recycling facility.
Testing of fill will be done, not only to industrial standards, but to residential standards, “the highest bar in Connecticut,” before it is approved to be brought to the site, according to Karp.
Nevertheless, commissioners want to ensure everything is done right, because the site is within the West Pequonnock public water supply watershed. They want assurance only clean fill is brought in and that processing of existing stockpiles on the site does not turn into a recycling operation.
One of the conditions of the commission’s approval is that the applicant pay an independent, third party licensed environmental professional (LEP), who will be hired by the Inland Wetlands Commission, and will also represent the zoning commission, while overseeing the work and providing written and verbal reports to the commission.
The applicant must maintain a daily log of all imported material, including appropriate soil analysis, and provide the information to the town’s zoning enforcement officer on a monthly basis.
Commissioner Leon Ambrosey was the lone dissenter in the Planning and Zoning Commission’s 4-1 approval. Voting in favor was Chairman Michael O’Reilly, Vice Chairman Bruno Maini, Secretary Ryan Condon and Robert Westlund.
The scope of the LEP’s work has yet to be completed. Town Planner Rick Schultz told the commission its chairman will have to approve of it before signing off. But Ambrosey said he was uncomfortable voting to approve the permit Thursday night without first seeing what the scope of work will be.
“I’m not voting to approve unless I see it in black and white,” Ambrosey said.
Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein recommended that the applicant pay for a $740,000 performance bond, which he can get back after all of the work is completed to the satisfaction of the commissions.
It will be a shared bond, so both the Inland Wetlands Commission and the Planning and Zoning Commission will have the authority to reduce and release the bond.
Schultz told commissioners they will see details of how this shared bond will work.
The permit expires in two years, so when the developer applies for a renewal, the commission can decide to require a hearing or to allow it to be handled administratively by land use staff.
The applicant requested four waivers, which Schultz said are necessary and will not have a negative impact on surrounding properties.
The applicant must provide a generalized phasing plan narrative detailing the timing of the removal of non-clean fill material, processing of existing fill material and processing of new clean fill material to be brought to the site.
Westlund asked if the commission could get updates on the elevations every two years and Schultz said they could.
Joel Z. Green, the attorney hired by Peter Metropoulos, a neighboring property owner who petitioned the commission for intervenor status, allowing his own experts to participate in the hearing for the zoning application, had asked the commission to require the applicant to use all of the existing stockpiles on the site before bringing in any new material.
The applicant wants to process and use the existing stockpiles of material and bring in clean fill concurrently.
Green’s request was included in a draft resolution of approval, but Maini said he did not think it made any difference how the material is processed. Condon agreed and they asked Schultz to strike that condition from the approval.
The intervenor also asked the commission to require a pre-activity meeting with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to ensure all of the necessary permits are in order before work begins.
Solli had told the commission they have all of the permits they need, but Schultz included the pre-activity meeting as a recommendation in the approval.
Maini said the commission should require the meeting or not have it as part of the approval, rather than recommending it. Condon asked that it be eliminated from the approval.
Among other requirements, the applicant must provide monthly engineering progress reports, adhere to recommendations by the town engineer and to all requirements of the “excavation and/or grading permit,” and the zoning enforcement officer shall have authority to enforce provisions of the permit.
The hours of operation will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
No blasting is authorized. Temporary onsite material sorting, crushing and processing will be limited to the hours of 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and trucks transporting material to the site will also be restricted to those hours to avoid peak commuter traffic.
The applicant will be responsible for any spills or damage to the roadway.
Erosion and sedimentation controls and temporary stormwater management measures shall be maintained while the work is completed and the disturbed areas are stabilized.