O&G in the right to process fill in Beacon Falls

BEACON FALLS — After months of research, officials have discovered that O&G Industries has the legal right to bring in and process excavated fill materials in town.

In September, residents raised concerns about O&G bringing in fill, and storing and cleaning it on the company’s property in town.

Residents argued O&G was in violation of a town ordinance, passed in 1988, that bans the trucking of excavated earthen fill materials into the town for processing.

Residents asked the town to issue a cease and desist order against O&G. O&G’s position was that the company received an exemption when the ordinance was first put into place. However, no documentation to back up the company’s claim was immediately available in September.

At the time, the Board of Selectmen chose to hold off on taking action while the matter was investigated.

During last week’s Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectman Christopher Bielik said O&G turned out to be right.

“There is actually a stipulated court judgement on this issue that allows them to continue operating the way that they have been,” Bielik said.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Kevin McDuffie said O&G’s exception to the ordinance runs through 2028. The company can apply for a multi-year extension of the exception when it runs out, he said.

If another company takes over the property, it is able to continue with the exception for up to five years, but then would have to come back before the town to get a new exception rather than get an extension, McDuffie said.

Officials also explored the possibility of taxing the fill O&G brings into town. Bielik said the town isn’t allowed to do so.

“If we try to go after that, in the opinion of our attorneys, we would lose and pay multiple damages for something we shouldn’t be going after,” Bielik said.

Bielik said O&G has been doing what it’s allowed to do since the beginning, and the board was right to delay issuing a cease and desist order.

“The bottom line is that what O&G is doing, they are doing legally. We don’t have a stake in what they are doing,” Bielik said.

While it took three months to get an answer, Bielik said it was worth the wait.

“It was a long road to get there, but I am glad we did the research we did. I am glad we found the legal, correct answer to it. That is why it always makes sense to take some time and follow the right process,” Bielik said.