Borough officials OK agreement to allow study of Amazon site

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Bluewater Property Group Vice President Christina Bernardin gives a presentation at a public hearing to the Board of Mayor and Burgesses on Tuesday, May 10 at Town Hall for the proposed developement of an Amazon facility at the Nauatuck/Waterbury Industrial Park. Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

NAUGATUCK — Borough officials approved to sell land in the Naugatuck/Waterbury Industrial Park to Bluewater Property Group to allow the development company to officially begin a due-diligence phase and determine if plans to build an Amazon distribution facility are feasible.

The Board of Mayor and Burgesses on Tuesday, May 10 unanimously approved the purchase and sale agreement of its 10.4 acres to Bluewater Property Group for $2.5 million. This comes after the Board of Aldermen of Waterbury a day earlier approved the purchase and sale agreement for the same company to officially begin a due-diligence phase on 157 acres in the city and Naugatuck.

Waterbury owns two parcels — one at 40.8 acres and the other 16 acres in the Industrial Park. Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the borough originally bought the 10.4 acre parcel so Waterbury could have access to its property. All the entrances to the land are through the Naugatuck side of the Industrial Park near the Great Hill Road area.

Bluewater Property Group Vice President Christina Bernardin said the purchase and sale agreement allows the company to close on the land in about a year and half from now.

“This is to begin feasibility studies and assessments to determine if the site is viable for development and construction. The site that’s been mentioned is challenged from a development perspective,” Bernardin said. “It has a lot of topography on the site. There’s rock which makes it more expensive to build and construct a facility. There are wetlands that need to be studied and there’s permits that need to be approved from the state, local municipalities.”

The facility would bring up to 1,000 permanent full time jobs and the development would bring about 300 construction jobs, according to Bernardin.

The development company has about six months to perform basic inspection and due diligence, after the sale agreement. Following that, the company has another 12 months to perform construction feasibility.

There are elements in place that will require to begin construction no later than 12 months after closing, Bernardin said.

The taxes generated from the facility would be split evenly between Naugatuck and Waterbury, according to Bernardin.

State and local processes including any environmental and traffic studies will still need to be carried out, Bernardin said.

Bernardin said they will begin engaging with their traffic engineers state Department of Transportation for a traffic study. After the sale agreement, the company would be scheduling meetings early in the process with the community in the borough and city in the upcoming months, she added.

Before the borough board voted, a hybrid hearing drew out a little more than half a dozen residents who stated their concerns and were critical of the proposed development.

Michael Cerchia, who lives on Beardsley Avenue, said he had concerns of additional noise coming from the Exit 29 of Route 8 from trucks going in and out.

“The traffic that this is going to generate is going to be unbelievable,” Cerchia said. “So they’re going to need to put a sound barrier going down the off-ramp so our whole neighborhood is protected from this.”

Naugatuck Valley Regional Development Corp. Director Thomas Hyde said part of the due diligence will be ensuring sound quality is not affected.

“If there are instances where sound quality is affected then yes there would have to be remedies to the situations,” Hyde said.

Elizabeth Melendez, who lives in the Platts Mill Road area, said traffic and the noise are the two issues she’s worried about.

“There’s people that are going to take a shortcut going around Plats Mill on top of that, them not knowing the neighborhood, not knowing these are little dead ends, are they going to go in and out getting all confused,” Melendez said. “We’re going to have like a rat race where there’s a bunch of kids in this little tiny pot of this community.”

Len Yannielli and Christine Yannielli who are the community outreach director of the Gunntown group, a cultural environmental committee, and a conservation commissioner, respectively both believe this development would cause negative impacts to the environment.

“This area needs a preservation and protection,” Christine Yannielli said. “The devastation of 157 acres of woodlands will needlessly affect biodiversity and natural habitats and degradation of natural resources.”

Burgess Charles P. Marenghi said the project is still in its infancy stage and it should still move forward for now.

“We are not going kill this project in its infancy,” Marenghi said. “If there is something wrong that will negatively impact the neighborhood or that will cause any kind of severe damage to the environment, that will come up to the process. I think right now, we have to embrace the fact that this was planned to be industrial.”