MONROE, CT — Residents living on Garder Road and Applegate Lane have lived through the nightmare of blasting, rock crushing and heavy truck traffic in an area designated as a scenic road for much of the past two decades.
Now Grasso Companies has approval for an excavation and filling permit at 125 Garder Road that, if all goes to plan, will result in a four-lot residential subdivision that will be more suitable to the surrounding neighborhood than an industrial use and, more importantly, put an end to the noise, dust, and heavy truck traffic within two years.
On Wednesday evening, town officials and the developer held a neighborhood meeting on Grasso’s blasting plan inside the council chambers of Monroe Town Hall.
“I know this is frustrating,” Chris Pawlowski, a professional engineer with Solli Engineering LLC, a Monroe firm hired by the developer, said of living near the earthwork activity. “I’m sorry, but we can’t build four lots on the property the way it is now with mountains and valleys, dips and rocks sticking out.”
Pawlowski was seated at a table in front of the dais with Planning and Zoning Administrator Rick Schultz and Fire Marshall William “Bill” Davin.
The meeting was also attended by Police Chief Keith White, Public Works Director Chris Nowacki, Community and Economic Development Director William Holsworth, and Tom O’Donnell, a project engineer with Grasso Companies.
Eight neighbors of 125 Garder Road attended the meeting to learn about the blasting plan, ask questions and express their concerns.
Pawlowski noted how last month’s Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval for the excavation and filling permit came with conditions meant to limit the disruption for neighbors.
Schultz told the audience it is a two year permit.
“It’s going to be completed before or by two years,” he said. “The commission really wants to put this to rest. This is for a four-lot residential subdivision. The land use should be residential. It’s a scenic road. The homes will be consistent with your neighborhood, because of the market demands.”
In its approval, the Planning and Zoning Commission reduced the amount of fill to be taken from the 9.5 acre property from 109,000 cubic yards in the previous application to 86,185.
Work hours will be limited to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, while excluding weekends and holidays.
Blasting and crushing operations will be limited to the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pawlowski said his client was notified of the conditions.
“It’s a very regulated process,” he said. “We can’t just show up and put holes in the ground.”
Pawlowski said the charges for the blasting are electrical and explosions will be proceeded by a couple of horns and a beep. Protections will be in place on the site, he said.
He said residents living in the radius of the blast zone can have a pre-blast survey of their home, assessing the condition of their home’s foundation, wells and walls before blasting, so there is a comparison should damage occur. The video evidence and photos would go to the blasting company’s insurer to pay for repairs.
Aside from the survey, the representative will ask for an email and phone number, so the resident can be informed of blasting.
Pawlowski said homeowners are under no obligation to invite surveyors into their house when they knock, though as a civil engineer he highly recommends they do.
“I can’t recommend it enough that you get the pre-blast survey,” said Davin, whose office issues blasting permits.
Pawlowski said there is no cost to the homeowner for the survey. If no survey is done beforehand and a home is damaged from blasting, he said the resident would have no recourse.
Any complaints over the course of the project can be brought to the land use office of Monroe Town Hall, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and after hours to the Fire Marshal’s Office or the Monroe Police Department.
A Garder Road man who attended the meeting said he approached the previous property owner after his well had cracks in the walls from blasting and the man laughed and said, “you’re not getting any money for that.”
“I apologize if it happened in the past with the previous owner,” Pawlowski said. “I can’t do anything about that now.”
Steve Kirsch, a member of the Board of Finance, who lives on Applegate Lane, said he believes everyone will request a pre-blast survey. He asked where seismographs that measure a blast will be placed on their properties.
Davin said it would be on the part of their property closest to the blasting.
“Will you feel it? You’ll feel it,” Davin said of the blasts. “But there will be times when you’ll say, ‘I thought they were going to blast today.’ You’ll feel the air blast on Applegate Lane. Your windows will rattle.”
Pawlowski said a well will be dug at 125 Garder Road, so water can be used to control dust from the earth work.
“If you have a dust issue, call the office,” Schultz said.
John Murphy of Applegate Lane, who attended the meeting with his wife Joby, expressed concern over his septic system being damaged.
“Can it happen? Yes,” Davin said. “Did it happen on the Pond View property across from Duchess? No. I can’t predict that.”
Davin noted that septic systems are not included in a pre-blast survey. Nevertheless, Schultz said it’s good practice to call your septic company ahead of time.
Another issued that came up among residents was the truck traffic. O’Donnell said there could be as much as 30 truckloads of material being moved per day, though it would vary. He estimated the blasting will begin between mid to late August.
Kirsch said two 18-wheelers heading south on Pepper Street turned left onto Garder Road recently. The first truck turned too sharply and almost wiped out the car he was driving behind, he recalled. “I don’t think they were speeding,” Kirsch added.
“You do have a bad corner, the Applegate corner,” White said, adding there have been problems there over the years.
Pawlowski said neighbors can push for road improvements when the commission holds a hearing for his client’s application for the four-lot residential subdivision.
At the end of the meeting, Schultz said, “we expect the applicant to play by the rules and, if not, you have to tell us.”
“Thank you. I appreciate the meeting,” Kirsch said.
Nancy Schneider, of Applegate Lane, and her husband Chris also attended the meeting.
“We’ll see,” Nancy said of how the work will play out. “We’ve been dealing with this, probably since 2000.”
“It sounds like the town has a better handle of what’s going to happen on that site, as opposed to the last activity about 20 years ago,” Chris said.
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