Wetlands commission approves remediation plan for controversial Pepper Street Business Park site

This is how the massive hole on Cambridge and Independence drives appeared in September of 2020.

MONROE, CT — Inland Wetlands Commission members approved a remediation plan to address wetlands violations on industrial properties in the Pepper Street Business Park with conditions.

It was the second plan following a previous denial on the controversial site at 64 Cambridge and 4 Independence drives, where an un-permitted quarry created an enormous hole and damaged wetlands.

The resolution for the current plan passed 5 to 1 at the Sept. 22 meeting with Chairman Keith Romano, treasurer James Stewart, Ross Mastrorocco, Clark Gingras and B.J. Hall in favor and Vice Chairwoman Lois Spence, who is also the commission secretary, opposed.

Spence, who has said she believes the application is incomplete, made her feelings known about the plan at previous meetings.

“I think we’re doing a disservice to our positions if we approve this application,” Spence said.

But the majority of the commission found that “the proposed remediation plan is consistent with the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations for the Town of Monroe” and Connecticut General Statutes, according to the resolution to approve the application.

The owner, Astro Land Holdings LLC and Spacely Land Holdings LLC, must complete a final set of plans for review by Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein and the town’s wetlands agent.

It must have a generalized construction sequence, indicate how the remediation will take place and how it will limit disturbance into the wetlands, the approval says.

There must be a dust mitigation plan for all work and all soil placed on top of a liner will be “clean, natural material.”

All of the town engineer’s comments shall be addressed during the Planning and Zoning review process.

The owner will provide funds for regular, periodic inspections by a neutral third party company with the proper certifications, who is chosen by the Inland Wetlands Commission.

The company’s inspections will include the performance of the well and pumping, and the restoration process of wetlands and vernal pools for the duration of the restoration process.

The commission and town staff will be notified of when inspections will occur and shall be allowed to accompany the third party professional for observation.

All applicable state and local permits will be applied for, including but not limited to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Monroe Planning and Zoning Commission, prior to starting the work, which shall commence no later than 60 days after hiring the third party professional.

A swale and lot line revision, ensuring all remediation work is done on one property, will require separate approvals. The commission gave the developer 180 days from its approval to file the swale application.

The commission gave the developer five years to complete the work, but if more time is needed, a request for an extension can be made.

The approval will run with the land and be binding for whoever owns the property.

A $740,000 bond must be posted. It may be released with a majority vote by the commission after the restoration work is approved and completed, “including the stabilization of all disturbed areas and the removal of all siltation and erosion control measures.”

Sedimentation and erosion control measures must be installed prior to any commencement of site activity.

Plant species listed on the most current DEEP publication entitled “Non-native Invasive and Potentially Invasive Vascular Plants in Connecticut” shall not be introduced on the site.

After the pre-construction meeting with the staff, the applicant must notify the town wetlands agent at least 48 hours before the start of work.

All work performed under the approval shall be consistent with the terms, intent and conditions of this approval. Any proposed changes must be approved by the commission. Any deviation from the approval without authorization may result in the issuance of a new notice of violation or order.

The commission has the right to modify, suspend or revoke its approval if it discovers any information provided to it is false, deceptive, incomplete or inaccurate.

1 Comment

  1. Bill,
    Thank you once again for your accurate and excellent reporting.

    And I applaud Vice Chair Spence for standing up for what’s right by arguing against this application.

    I hope the First Selectman will personally step up to help the P&Z Commission in Dali g with this mess. A good start would be for him to personally reach out to the authorities at CT’s Department of Environmental Protection and The Federal EPA. It’s a shame that he has be reluctant, to date, to personally ask for outside help as this is his Town and ultimately his responsibility.

    Neither the Town nor DEEP officials have yet to receive any of the documentation and information regarding imported unprocessed materials, which had previously been requested from Mr. Karp several times and as recently as August 30, 2021.

    The bigger issue is that the Commission neglected to verify the volume of water in the crater and if they will require a dewatering permit.

    I think P&Z will do a much more of a thorough job if the application is ever presented to them.

    And as Bill included in his article:
    “ The commission has the right to modify, suspend or revoke its approval if it discovers any information provided to it is false, deceptive, incomplete or inaccurate.”

    Both Mr. Karp and Mr. Solli, fed the Commission a bunch of BS while giving testimony for this application.

    The commission could always come back and require the lake stay as it is a watercourse, while the rest of the site could be remediated properly.

    But Karp wants to be paid to import construction debris. He simply won’t pay for clean native natural material.

    But I do expect DEEP officials and State Police to step in and act on prosecuting all individuals involved,
    in what I consider to has been a criminal conspiracy to evade Environmental laws.

    Pete Metro

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