Work on banquet hall comes under question
PROSPECT — Heavy rains, steep slopes, and excavation have caused headaches during construction of the new Aria Wedding and Banquet Facility by Villa Rosa.
Giuseppe Geloso, owner of Aria, and David Carson, land planner and site engineer at OCG Group Inc., came before the Planning and Zoning Commission last Wednesday to answer questions about the erosion problems and progress at the banquet hall being built on Murphy Road.
The town sent a letter to the Geloso family in regards to the erosion and sediment problems at the Aria Banquet Facility, located at 45 Murphy Road, said Gil Graveline, chairman of the commission.
The letter, sent by Carmody and Torrance LLP law firm on behalf of the town, stated that on Aug. 1, 2012, Dec. 21, 2012, and Jan. 31 large amounts of sediments washed down the property and onto Murphy Road and Route 69.
“The resulting accumulation of silt and sediment on the roadways creates a serious public safety hazard,” the letter said.
Carlson explained the three times the commission noted the sediment on the road were all caused by different problems.
“The three incidents that occurred, as everybody knows, occurred as a result of tremendous rainfall events. But the root cause of the sediment erosion problem was different for each of the three events,” Carson said.
The first problem was due to run-off from the hill and the second problem occurred after the building had been built and was a problem with the roof drainage. Carson explained to the commission that after the first two incidents, the problems were corrected.
“This latest one is, again, a third problem,” Carson said.
This problem is due to the fact that much of the storm water had been collected in the parking area, which was shaped like a bowl. Now that the parking area had been excavated, the area no longer retained the water, Carson explained.
The water ran down the hill, through the stock piled mounds of rocks and dirt, and destroyed a stone culvert that had been built to solve the first problem.
“This situation is almost impossible to correct except for speeding up the excavation,” Carlson said.
The commission was also concerned that, since the project was approved on Feb. 3, 2010, it has not been moving forward fast enough.
Geloso explained that he is also under a deadline to get the project done and have the banquet hall opened by April.
“I have no choice. If I don’t do that, it’s going to be a disaster,” Geloso said.
Geloso said he chose a new construction company, Quality Associates, at the end of January, and that it was making a huge difference in the speed of construction.
“In a week they have made beautiful progress,” Geloso said.
Carlson added that the new construction company has done more in a week than the last did in a month, which will help alleviate the erosion problem faster.
Carlson explained that, until the excavation is done, there is no way to contain a site this large.
“I’ll be honest with you, if a storm were to come along tomorrow, we’d have it all back in the road again. The only way at this point in this project is the faster we can get the excavation done the faster is can be stabilized,” Carlson said.
Geloso told the commission that many of the erosion problems simply stemmed from the fact that the banquet hall was built on a large slope.
“We’re dealing with a mountain. We’re not dealing with flat land,” Geloso said. “We’re doing the best we can. Unfortunately, when the heavy rains come in, there’s nothing to stop it.”
Carlson explained the drainage can not be completed until the excavation is done either. Putting in the drainage now would only cause more problems and more flooding.
William Donovan, the town’s land use inspector, said the town is the one that is held liable for the conditions of the roads. If the silt were to cause an accident, the town could be named as a liable party to a lawsuit.
“I understand. I agree with you 100 percent. But you’ve got to understand that we’ve been doing the best we could,” Geloso said.
Carlson said they are also waiting for an easement for a sewage line in Waterbury, which is the line the company will tie into. The company has received the other sewage line easements it needs, he said. Carlson expected the approval from Waterbury to come through soon.
After the meeting Donovan said that he and the commission were satisfied with the answers that Geloso and Carson had provided and the fact that a new construction company had been hired helped put their minds at ease.