MONROE, CT — A steady stream of traffic travels along Main Street, a narrow state highway serving commuters and residents visiting the commercial establishments along the way. At one busy intersection, vehicles come out from Old Newtown Road at Duchess restaurant and Chuck’s Corner. Across the thoroughfare other cars emerge from Judd Road, which has a Dunkin’ Donuts at the corner.
Area residents, who are all too familiar with traffic slowing to a crawl during early morning and evening peak hours, are now concerned over the potential impact of more traffic from 196 luxury apartments proposed on the Pond View property at 127 Main St.
The driveway for the site is next to the Dunkin’ Donuts, a stone’s throw away from the four-way intersection on Route 25.
The developer’s traffic study found the new housing would not have a significant impact on traffic, but neighbors who spoke during the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on the project expressed their skepticism.
Though the commission decided to continue its hearing to April 6, due to a pending inland wetlands decision on the project, neighbors attending last Thursday’s meeting took the opportunity to air their concerns that night.
Every morning, William Garvey, of Old Newtown Road, said he waits for three cycles, before a green light finally allows him to drive through the intersection. “And sometimes I get stuck in the intersection to the chagrin of other drivers,” he said.
Sally Lundy, of Little Fox Lane, asked if the Connecticut Department of Transportation could put in a left turn signal on Route 25 for drivers turning onto Old Newtown Road.
Rick Smith, of Hillcrest Road, wrote a letter to the commission to express his concerns about the project and spoke at Thursday’s meeting.
“The one point I saw that really bothers me is the high number of traffic infractions that are evident during peak hours,” Smith said, adding it’s clear no turns on red are allowed, but people do it on a regular basis because they don’t want to wait.
“It’s a very tense situation with drivers running lights, speeding … cellphone usage,” Smith said. He also said there are too many close calls of near crashes.
“I caution you, it’s not the right density,” he said. “This traffic study is not as comprehensive when compared to others. I have no axe to grind against Solli,” Smith said of the engineering firm for the project. Then addressing the commissioners he added, “I’m just telling you it’s a mess. We rely on you for good foresight. I want smart growth.”
Blasting, piles of dirt
“l lived in Monroe for 41 years now,” said Gyongyi Dorchinsky, of Laurel Drive. “I love the town. Since 2004 we’ve had a lot of problems with that property with blasting by different companies. The last company put a seismograph in my yard and my dog almost had a heart attack one time, because he hears more than I do.”
Dorchinsky, who works from home, is used to hearing a whistle and a boom. She said one company blasted on the property at 127 Main St. every day for two months.
“They’re probably making millions of dollars on stone alone,” she said. “Now they want a development in there,” she added, while expressing her belief 196 apartments is “excessive”.
Town Planner Rick Schultz told Dorchinsky the property owner anticipates an end to the blasting in May.
“Do you know how many times I heard that?” she asked. “I heard that all the time, ‘we’re gonna be finished by December. We’re gonna be finished by February,’ but no, it got worse. They blasted every day. One time a picture fell off the wall. I don’t know what it’s doing to my foundation and my well, and I don’t think anyone cares for the God’s honest truth. It keeps going and going.”
“We won’t let it go on forever,” said Robert Westlund, a commissioner.
Fellow commissioner, Leon Ambrose, said the commission would get reports from the property owner, who cannot go beyond limits of yards of aggregate allowed.
Tara Croce, of Little Fox Lane, said her backyard faces the property, with no tree line to obscure a giant mound of dirt. “Drones scared my mother at window level today, but that’s besides the point,” she said.
Kevin Solli, principal of Solli Engineering LLC in Monroe, promised to add more natural buffers along neighboring property lines.
But right now, Croce said, “I have no privacy and there is a bigger and bigger pile with trucks looking into my yard.”
Lundy invited commissioners to take a site walk of the neighborhood surrounding the property to get a sense of the capacity for development on the 20 acres and how it will affect Monroe. She said homeowners are constantly getting dust from the construction site.
Several neighbors also expressed disagreement with the developer’s estimate that the 196 apartments would add 18 students to the school system. Those who spoke said they believe it will be far more and could strongly impact on one school, depending on grade levels.
The video below provides audio of a blast from Aug. 24, 2020. It appeared in a story on blasting in the neighborhood.
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