Developer gets strong pushback over high-density apartment proposal

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By ANDREAS YILMA

NAUGATUCK – A developer for a dense apartment complex near wetlands has altered the proposal once again as many borough residents continue to strongly oppose it.

Apartments at Long Meadow of Shelton has reduced a 361-unit complex to a 271-unit complex near Long Meadow Pond Brook between Webb Road and Rubber Avenue. The proposal has been altered several times after strong opposition due to the nature of the dense proposed development. The area previously was a farm.

The Inland Wetlands Commission first opened a hearing in November that drew more than 100 people in person and online. The Feb. 7 hearing drew about 70 residents to the Board of Education room and another 40 online.

The commission closed the hearing and now has 35 days from the close of the hearing to make a decision. The commission is expected to make a decision at its March 13 meeting.
SLR Consulting engineer Darin Overton, representing the applicant, said the new proposal also calls for a reduction of garage parking spaces and surface parking spaces from 573 to 353. The new proposal includes an increase in townhouses from eight to 24.

Some other changes of the new proposal includes a reduction of impervious areas from 7.08 to 6.13 acres and a decrease of total of permanent and temporary wetland disturbance from 9,920 to 9,420 square feet. The total upland review area disturbance was also reduced by 0.4 acres to 7.23 acres, Overton said.

Attorney Joe Williams, who represents the applicant, said the question the state statues ask an Inland Wetlands agency is whether there is substantial evidence of likely adverse impacts to wetlands.

“We’re not interested in speculation or just concerns or possibilities,” Williams said. “The question is whether there’s real evidence of a likely adverse impact on wetlands that we need to focus on.”

The commission previously received a request for a legal intervener from residents, Chester Cornacchia and attorney Fred Dlugokecki. In the 1970s, the Millville Nursery [JUMP]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.

The commission, however, has received a memo from environmental consultant Scott Bristol with SLR International who reviewed the comments the commission has received previously on behalf of the intervener and found them to be not substantiated. Bristol also listed the protocol would be for dealing with those materials that have been dumped on the property, Williams said.

In a letter to the commission, wetlands and soil scientist Steven Danzer said the impact to the wetlands and watercourses due to stormI water/storm-water generated by the site development is a major issue of this application.

The Southwest Conversation District has noted that the paved surfaces contribute pollutants to surface storm water/storm-water flows and that the increase in impervious surfaces due to this proposal is likely to cause elevated pollutant concentrations.

Two sections of regulations that define activities which cause substantial turbidity, siltation or sedimentation and causes or has the potential to cause pollution of a wetland or watercourse as a “significant activity, Danzer added in the letter.

“The proposed activity clearly qualifies as a significant impact activity under both of those definitions as the activity will cause substantial turbidity and pollution to the wetlands and watercourses on site,” Danzer said in the letter. “Moreover, the activity is preventable and avoidable by better site plan design, and will result in unreasonable harm to the wetland resources.”

More than a dozen members of the public spoke out mainly in strong opposition to the proposed development which included increases in water runoff and potential harm on surrounding residents’ well water.

Carl Herb, who lives about a mile and half away from the proposed development and a former borough burgess, said his concern is for the residents and their health.

The town is a brownfield where former Millville Nursery owner Nick Salinardi used vulcanized rubber produced and mixed with his top soil to improve his production of his nursery where he sold all kinds of vegetables and things of that nature, Herb said.

He spread it all over. He wanted to get the best production he could out of his farm and it was all right. I don’t damn him for that but we pay the price and we got to learn. We can’t keep making the same mistakes,” Herb said. “You can’t approve this project. Please, please for the health and well-being of all these people and their children and their dogs, everything, please reject this project.”

Some speakers showed more pictures and videos of the area and the surrounding area engulfed in water from past storms in December and January.
Williams said he and the developer believe the proposal will not impact wetlands or watercourses.

Cornacchia said the area is a very sensitive aquifer recharge basin and once it’s contaminated it, there’s no going in there to clean it up.

“It’s our urgent request to ask this commission to protect the wetlands and the upland review areas which are so vitally important to the long meadow pond brook aquifer recharge basin which is inextricably linked to the clean water and supply and health of our residents at the West Over Hills subdivision,” Cornacchia said.

Acting IWC Chair Marcia Puc and regular IWC Chair Tracy L. DeBarber, who attended online, offered thanks.

“We want and will do what is right for the wetlands,” DeBarber said.
“We will take everything into consideration that we can and we’re all here to protect the wetlands,” Puc said.