Middlebury - The Conservation Commission, meeting Tuesday, February 24, approved applications for new rides at Quassy Amusement Park, a Dunkin' Donuts at 550 Middlebury Rd. and a commercial office building at 1365 Whittemore Rd.Quassy Amusement Park's application to remove the Mad Mouse roller coaster, bocce court and horseshoe pits; relocate a volleyball court; and add three new rides is currently before the Planning and Zoning Commission.
One of the three proposed new rides, the Bullet Bowl, is a waterslide. The applicant proposes to site this ride along Lake Quassapaug.
A portion of the proposed waterslide falls within the 150-foot setback area of Lake Quassapaug, which, as a regulated area, is under the Conservation Commission's jurisdiction.
Attorney Michael McVerry, on behalf of the applicant, Eric Anderson, president, Lake Quassapaug Amusement Park, Inc., said the Bullet Bowl is similar to other water rides at the park and will replace the metal Mad Mouse roller coaster.
He said the position of the new ride would be approximately 25 feet within the lake's setback area. The applicant plans to excavate 55 to 65 cubic yards of fill for the ride.
Commissioner Melinda Burbank was concerned with heavy chlorination of water, severe storm treatment measures that will be taken in case of water spilling over and the ride being a closed water system.
Mr. Anderson said water being used for the ride will come from park wells. He said in-ground tanks installed to hold the water will be oversized to accommodate any extra water coming in.
"It's something we can control," he said.
He explained the Bullet Bowl is similar in application to a pool and other existing water rides. Water will re-circulate within a closed system and any backwash will go into an onsite septic system.
Commissioner Jim Crocicchia had walked the property that morning.
"I see absolutely no problems. The footprint [of the Bullet Bowl] is smaller than what exists now [the Mad Mouse roller coaster]. The water is completely contained."
Chairman Paul Bowler and Commissioner Burbank asked about grease from the current roller coaster, since the ride has been there for so many years.
They asked if the pumping of water would be the only mechanics involved and what is underneath the ride.
Mr. Anderson said there will be a "pretty significant improvement" to the area from the existing Mad Mouse roller coaster.
He said grass lies beneath the existing ride and when the Bullet Bowl replaces it, stairs will lead park-goers up to the ride; riders will exit on a walkway.
Commissioner Terry Manning wanted to know what would happen to the soil after the excavation.
Mr. Anderson said the soil would be used to backfill the foundation; any extra soil would be removed.
The board unanimously approved the application.
Attorney Michael Broderick represented property owners Robert and Kerry Ford, proposing a Dunkin' Donuts at 550 Middlebury Rd. The proposed restaurant will replace a gas station that exists on the site.
The Planning and Zoning Commission granted applicant Manuel Rocha a 60-day extension after the public hearing closed in December 2008.
During this time, the Conservation Commission sent a letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission noting that Hop Brook, which runs behind the proposed site, rendered the proposal a regulated activity falling under the Conservation Commission's jurisdiction.
Planning and Zoning commissioners, meeting February 5, denied Mr. Rocha's application because the 60-day extension ran out before Conservation Commission approval had been received.
The proposal includes a series of catch basins, in addition to an existing one; installation of several areas of landscaping and a storm water separator.
Ms. Burbank and Mr. Manning asked about the removal of soil during the excavation process and the possibility of oil and gasoline contaminants within the soil.
Mr. Broderick said he was unable to answer those questions because he did not have the details. He said the applicant did have environmental engineers review the site.
Mr. Bowler asked John Calabrese, the town's consulting engineer, if there was a standard procedure to follow on a site such as this, where "junk cars" have previously been stored.
Mr. Calabrese said he assumed the applicant had soil testing done, but no reports have been submitted indicating existence of soil contaminants.
Mr. Manning said if contaminants were found on the topsoil thorough soil testing, some course of action would have to be taken. He said a stipulation needs to be added that the soil be tested.
Ms. Burbank asked if there was a way to put a bond on this.
Chairman Bowler said a provision could be added.
Wetlands Enforcement Officer Deborah Seavey said a permanent maintenance drainage schedule needs to be submitted, requiring all catch basins be cleaned and reports submitted to the commission.
The commission approved the application with the provisions that revised plans reflect Mr. Calabrese's comments, the applicant provide the commission with soil test results for the entire site and the procedures if necessary, prior to issuance of a permit.
Commissioners Tom Proulx and Vincent LoRusso had recused themselves from the discussion and vote.
Curt Smith, a land surveyor with Smith & Co., represented the applicant, 1365 LLC, for a proposal to convert an existing building, an old woodworking shop, at 1365 Whittemore Rd., into a commercial office building and pave the parking lot at the back of the site.
The proposal currently is before the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The site, adjacent to Juniper's Restaurant, consists of 2.03 acres of which 0.02 acres is wetlands.
A four-foot wide stream runs behind a gravel and dirt parking lot behind the shop. The parking lot is not paved and all sheet-flow runs off the property and into a stream.
At last month's meeting, Mr. Smith proposed to improve the area by reducing the size of the parking lot and adding a wildflower mix on land along the south and east sides of the proposed building.
He proposed to formalize the drainage with a draining structure for all storm events up to 100-year storms and a wier structure.
A wier is a controlled outlet that allows water to flow in regulated amounts in controlled intervals. Installing a wier would help the outlet by releasing water into the system slowly.
Commissioner Ms. Burbank read Mr. Calabrese's recommendations, dated January 26, into the record.
Mr. Smith submitted details of a proposed Enhanced Vortex Separator from Hydro International that would replace one of the catch basins adjacent to the stream.
A vortex separator protects the stream by separating sand and oils so they do not run into the stream.
"We feel the plan as a whole is an enhancement of what's there with gravel and dirt parking," Mr. Smith said. "I believe we conform to the terms of John Calabrese's letter."
Ms. Burbank and Mr. Crocicchia had walked the property after last month's meeting and noticed large trees along the stream.
Ms. Burbank wanted to know if the trees would be removed or saved.
Mr. Calabrese said two weeping willows along the stream would interfere with pipelines the applicant proposes to run there.
"I don't think it'll be a loss if they [the two willow trees] disappear because they do more damage to the brook," he said.
The commission discussed planting a buffer between the parking lot and the stream.
Mr. Smith said some trees would be removed and said the applicant proposes to plant a wildflower mix on the south end of the stream, approximately 50 feet from the parking area.
Planting a buffer along the stream, he said, was a waste of money because the chance of the plants growing is slight due to a lack of sunlight in the area.
Mr. Smith referred to previous mitigations where disturbances to such areas had caused more harm than good.
"You've got a natural deciduous forest there which will be cut back a proportion of the way," he said.
"You have six trees," Ms. Burbank said. "I hardly call that a forest."
Mr. Smith said the applicant planned to keep as many trees as possible along the side facing the service area of Juniper's Restaurant.
"It will also protect the brook," he added.
Chairman Bowler asked what the applicant would plant on the curbed islands around the parking.
Mr. Smith said his client was proposing a mix of maples, knee-high shrubs and deciduous plants. A portion of the area, he said, will have Cape Cod curbing and the rest traditional curbing.
"The plan should improve the situation so you don't get sheet flow across the dirt parking," Mr. Smith said.
Commissioner Manning was concerned with salt running into the catch basins and the stream.
"There's no real way to catch the salt," he said.
"As long as there are paved roads, there will be salt," Mr. Bowler said.
Mr. Smith said the proposal would capture and drain water into the stream and is similar to the system Juniper's Restaurant uses.
The board unanimously approved the application per a draft resolution submitted by Mr. Calabrese.
Commissioners approved changes to their bylaws and to the name of the commission in the bylaws.
The name of the commission in the bylaws has been changed to Inlands Wetlands Watercourse and Conservation Commission of the Town of Middlebury.
The new bylaws were effective on March 1.
The next Conservation Commission meeting is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at Shepardson Community Center.