271-unit apartment plan killed

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ANDREAS YILMA

NAUGATUCK — The Inland Wetlands Commission on March 13 unanimously denied a proposed 271-unit apartment complex near Long Meadow Pond Brook after months of strong opposition by residents.

A packed room applauded the decision to deny the Long Meadow Apartments application after about two hours of deliberation at a special meeting. A majority of the attendees held “NO” signs for the second time in two weeks after the IWC decided to delay its decision March 6.

Apartments at Long Meadow of Shelton initially proposed a 467-unit complex in eight buildings on 34.4 acres between Webb Road and Rubber Avenue before downsizing a few times to 271 units. The area consists of 46% wetlands and some of it previously was a farm. The proposal included a clubhouse and a pool.

The plans also called for three crossings with about 3,280 square feet of permanent impacts and 6,140 square feet of temporary disturbance to the wetlands.

“The initial plan we received, I was very disappointed. I really figured the applicant would’ve known better,” IWC Chairwoman Tracy DeBarber said. “There was so much missing from it and that’s one reason why it had to be revised [–] it never should’ve even left their hands to come here, in my opinion.”

The IWC in November received a request for a legal intervener from residents Chester Cornacchia and attorney Fred Dlugokecki. In the 1970s, Millville Nursery’s owner used to take in rubber shards from Uniroyal. The vulcanized rubber byproduct from tires was used as mulch at the nursery, Cornacchia has said.

“It’s a very sensitive, wet meadow. … It’s environmentally high value and in all of the applicant’s proposals, it was completely disregarded,” he said.

The IWC denied the application because the applicant’s proposed storm-water management plan didn’t meet the guidelines in the state quality manual; there were feasible and prudent alternatives to better protect the wetlands; the applicant’s revisions still had activity that likely would have an adverse effect on wetlands; and the application was incomplete and inaccurate.

“I would be really upset if we let this go through and whatever storm-water management comes through on that it ruins the brook that so much time and energy was spent cleaning that up,” DeBarber said.

“There’s fish there now and it looks beautiful. A lot of time went into that.”

Borough resident Dave Rogers helped organize an email group to keep fellow residents informed and motivated.

“I’m very pleased. I think it was the obvious decision to make,” he said of the denial. “The facts presented by the interveners’ experts were indisputable in my opinion and the applicants’ application was lacking in so many ways.”

Cornacchia added, “I think we had a long haul. I think ultimately the commission got it right. … The environmental sensitivity of that property has always been a critical issue. It’s an aquifer recharge basin. It’s well-documented … people who live around there rely on that for clean drinking water and ultimately for the wildlife.”