MONROE, CT — A developer revised plans for earthwork on a 9.5 acre property at 125 Garder Road to prepare it for construction of two industrial buildings, making drainage improvements, doing pre-blast surveys, and agreeing to provide quarterly reports from a civil engineer to the Planning and Zoning Commission, so members can follow the progress of the work.
Grasso Companies, the applicant for the excavation and fill permit, also removed a scale from the site as a show of its intention not to turn it into a quarry.
Nevertheless, some commissioners at Thursday’s hearing still expressed concern the property will turn into a quarry. An excavation and fill permit was approved for a previous owner in 2004 for conceptual plans for a building that never came, resulting in litigation.
“Conceptual buildings doesn’t mean it will ever happen,” said Leon Ambrosey, a commissioner. “It means you can mine the property and sell fill for profit. I know the whole game and deal. Neighbors living on Applegate Lane will hear noise from blasting and the crusher.”
“Every mining operation is eventually used for something else,” said Domenic Paniccia, a commission alternate. “Any name you attribute to it, it’s a mining operation.”
The hearing was continued.
Ambrosey said the 108,000 cubic yards the developer wants to blast and remove could be crushed somewhere else. “I don’t know if I want a crusher there,” he added.
Robert Pryor, a professional engineer with Solli Engineering, the firm representing the applicant, said that would result in more trucking to and from the site.
Ambrosey and other commissioners also expressed a belief that a five-year-permit allowing the earthwork will be too long. Nicole Lupo, a commission alternate, said five years is not something she could support.
“We can’t keep an eye on it for five years and that site was mined before,” Ambrosey said.
Chris Pawlowski, a civil engineer with Solli Engineering, said blasting has to be done to lower the grading for the plan. He said the rock crushing would not be continuous, only performed as sections are blasted, so material can be used at jobs Grasso Companies is being paid for.
Pawlowski said they do not anticipate it will take five years to prepare the property, which has unforgiving topography with steep areas and cliffs.
“Two-to-three years is our target,” he said. “No contract buyer will buy a property in its current condition. We have to prepare it.”
Pryor said the commission could approve a permit that expires earlier than five years. If a permit is approved and expires, the applicant will have to come back to the commission for another permit if the work is not completed.
Pawlowski said the applicant could give progress reports beyond the quarterly ones at the commission’s request.
Pryor said, “the goal is to make it a site that could be developed with something to make it economically beneficial to the town.”
No staging, hunting is okay
During the Dec. 1 meeting, Joe Grasso, owner of Grasso Companies, LLC, told the commission that Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein gave him permission to use the property at 125 Garder Road as a staging area for the Pepper Street reconstruction project his company is doing for the town.
But Town Planner Rick Schultz said Grasso would have had to get permission from the commission to use the property as a place to store materials and equipment.
At Thursday’s hearing, Schultz told commissioners he had since spoke to Schatzlein who did not authorize it. In fact, he said the town engineer made Grasso remove 5,000 yards of material from his property after finding out about it.
In light of this dispute, Ambrosey said he has issues with the excavation and fill permit application.
Schultz also told commissioners there were complaints over the discharge of firearms on the property, where Grasso allows hunting.
“Our client does permit hunting on the property at the moment,” Pawlowski said. “That does require signatures, because of various hunting laws.”
“Hunting is permitted,” Schultz said.
Pawlowski told the commission they put together a pre-blasting plan explaining how it will be done, when it will start and the length of time and methodology, as well as a pre-blast survey.
Details such as work hours and notifications before blasting are included in the blasting report.
The survey covers 500 feet surrounding the property. Three sides are open space and there are homes on Applegate Lane and Garder Road, according to Pawlowski.
He said Aquarion Water Company told them the Applegate Lane houses are served by public water. Three homes on Garder Road have wells.
A pre-blast survey of their homes would document the condition of the foundations and wells. Pawlowski said seismographs measuring blasts would be provided to homeowners who ask for one.
“It’s not in a densely populated area and there will be safeguards to ensure there is no damage to neighboring properties,” he said.
The developer wants to establish a future building pad at an elevation of about 422 feet to support future development with main access from Garder Road, close to the north end of Pepper Street.
The land has areas with elevations as high as 435 and 470 feet. The lowest area is about 408 feet. There are also wetlands in back of the property. A decision on an application before the Inland Wetlands Commission is pending.
Planning and Zoning Chairman Michael O’Reilly asked the applicant to look into whether the building pads can be at a higher elevation, so less excavation is needed.
Ambrosey expressed concern that the site could turn into a “disaster” for neighboring residents with noise pollution from blasting and crushers.
“We had other disasters in this town,” he said. “This property has been already.”
Pawlowski said an existing 15-to-20 foot berm “would essentially block the noise from the crusher.” There would also be dust control measures and hours of operation for the equipment, he said.
“Do you guys have any potential clients who would lease these buildings? Any conversations?” Dominic Smeraglino, a commission alternate, asked.
“Our client hasn’t shared that with us,” Pawlowski replied.
“It’s already bad there with dump truck traffic and speeding — and we’re going to put in another quarry?” Smeraglino said.
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