Stevenson residents oppose Sun Valley Glen cluster housing proposal

These are the plans for Sun Valley Glen, a nine lot single family subdivision planned for 1536 and 1564 Monroe Turnpike.

MONROE, CT — Neighbors expressed concerns over their wells, drainage and area wildlife during an Inland Wetlands Commission hearing Wednesday on Sun Valley Glen, a nine single-family cluster housing development proposed on 33.5 acres at 1536 and 1564 Monroe Turnpike in Stevenson.

Larry Edwards, of J. Edwards & Associates in Easton, the engineer for the applicant, Jans Land Development LLC, asked the commission to table the hearing until the next meeting because their environmental expert was not available that night.

The commission agreed to continue the hearing until Feb. 28, but allowed members of the public to speak because they took the time to attend the publicly noticed meeting.

Commissioners also unanimously agreed to hire an independent environmental expert to assess the proposal, something members of the public strongly urged them to do, and discussed having a site walk of the property, which includes 4.59 acres of wetlands.

In addition to building the houses, the developer plans to construct a new road crossing the wetlands.

During public comments, Kelley Hangos-Carrano, of Scholz Road, who is a master gardener, asked for an environmental analysis of the project to protect the wildlife corridor, which she said is a migratory route from Webb Mountain to their neighborhood.

“Endangered animals are living on this property, thus we have to protect our watershed,” she said.

She said the applicant’s report says there are no vernal pools on the property, which is “incredulous” to her. Hangos-Carrano said skunk cabbage grows on the property, which is a plan that needs wet soil to grow.

She said neighbors do not use chemicals on their lawns to protect everyone’s drinking water.

Other neighbors said they’ve seen hawks, bald eagles, black bears, raccoons and songbirds in the area that could be impacted by the wetlands being disrupted.

Concerns were also expressed over the removal of trees and other ground cover impacting upon drainage, as well as light pollution and noise.

Melissa McKee of Pachaug Trail, who bought her home in 2016, said she had to pay close to $7,000 to get clean water after sediment built up inside her well.

Over the years, she said she has also seen the wide variety of wildlife in the area, including bobcats, foxes, salamanders and toads. “This would be a hardship for those animals, as well as a concern for the waterways,” she said.

Commissioner Jim Stewart told residents they have no jurisdiction over wells or wildlife that does not depend on the wetlands. “It’s wetlands only. Please keep your comments limited to the wetlands,” he said.

Paula Jelly, of Cottage Street, said the property surrounds her on three sides. “I prefer it remain woodlands and wetlands,” she said, adding she has concerns over drainage.

Jelly recalled a past approval on the property, which had expired, for two homes and a shared driveway to reduce the impact upon the wetlands. Now a road is being proposed, she said.

In the past application the commission required a conservation easement and Jelly asked that the current applicant have the same requirement.

Mark Lamont, who bought his Downs Road home with his wife Peggy 26 years ago, told the commission he was a forestry major at the University of Vermont and is an outdoors person.

When his two German shepherds chased deer in the past, he has walked onto the applicant’s property to get his pets back. He said the site definitely has vernal pools and a lot of skunk cabbage growing there. Lamont said the vernal pools provide a habitat for amphibians.

He joined several fellow residents in asking the commission to have an independent environmental assessment of the property.

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