Commission OKs permit for new recycling center

NAUGATUCK — The Zoning Commission last week unanimously approved the borough’s special permit application to build a new recycling center following a discussion on how to keep noise from the site from potentially becoming an issue.

Naugatuck officials plan to build the new recycling center on a 13.4-acre, borough-owned parcel of land off School Street Extension. The entrance to the center will be on School Street Extension, which is a dead-end, residential street with a few houses on it.

The new center will replace the existing one on Rubber Avenue at the intersection of Andrew Avenue. The design for the new recycling center shows a loop with areas inside it for disposal of bulky waste and brush waste. The plan also includes bins for storing items that need to be kept separate, like mattresses and electronics, an office, attendant booth and parking spaces.

The commission opened a hearing, which drew only a handful of people, on the application June 19. Among the concerns raised at the hearing was the potential for the noise from the recycling center on Saturdays to disrupt wedding activities held outside at The Crystal Room on School Street. The land where the banquet hall is borders the property where the new center will be built.

The Polish Falcons Club owns the banquet hall. In a letter to the commission, club President George Carlson said the hall is the club’s only source of income and the club is concerned noise from the center could negatively impact the hall’s operations, which would affect the club’s revenue.

The area where activities are held outside at the hall is a little more than 500 feet away from where the center will be built.

“This presents a good opportunity,” commissioner Eileen Bronko said about the plan for the new recycling center, “but we should do it with the best intentions, with the best plan given some of the concerns and the issues.”

Bronko felt the commission should assume there will be a noise issue and figure out a landscaping plan to buffer sound coming from the recycling center.

The recycling center is open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It closes a week or so before Christmas and opens again in April.

As officials discussed the issue, Assistant to the Public Works Director Sandra Ribeiro said the loudest noise stems from attendants using a backhoe to compact trash in the bins. She said procedures could be put in place so this doesn’t happen past a certain time on Saturdays or not at all.

Commission Chairman Wayne Malicki said the commission can’t development a plan for the noise when it doesn’t know the extent of the noise, but some of the operations could be limited.

Officials felt the issue is better handled during negotiations between the club and Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess to buy a strip of land from the club. The borough needs the land to widen the road to a uniformed 24 feet as part of the project.

This seemed to appease the commission and club members as the commission approved the special permit with the expectation that mayor and club reach agreement regarding concerns with noise.

Chet Walkuski, who lives on School Street Extension, raised concerns, as well, about how the new center will impact traffic on School Street Extension and the surrounding neighborhoods. He questioned whether the borough did a traffic impact study, which wasn’t done.

Walkuski, whose house is about 100 feet away from where the center’s entrance will be, also raised a concern that people will line up before the center opens, blocking the street.

The new center is designed to queue more than 30 vehicles at a time and potentially up to 60, officials said. Borough Engineer Wayne Zirolli said people line up early at the recycling center now because it’s a small area. With a larger site and better traffic flow, he felt there would be no reason for people to get there early.

Ribeiro said about 50 vehicles go through the center on Saturdays on average to drop off bulky waste. This doesn’t include people who dispose of brush.

Malicki said he doesn’t foresee people waiting becoming an issue. If it does, he said, it could be fixed with police enforcement.

The police and fire commissions supported the application, but the Planning Commission gave it a negative referral. In its referral, the Planning Commission requested the Zoning Commission take into consideration several aspects of the project, including the impact on the neighborhood and the ease of access to the property.

Malicki said some changes were made to plan, including providing more space to queue vehicles, and officials have met with owners of the club about buying land to widen the road.

Malicki felt the impact to the neighborhood is probably minimal and less of an impact on the neighborhood where the center is now on Rubber Avenue.

The borough also needs to get permits from the state for the new recycling center.