NEWTOWN - The Inland Wetlands Commission heard more information regarding a proposed 38-lot subdivision and the groundwater remediation plan from Noranda Metals Industries at its Wednesday, August 26, meeting.Commissioners accepted a letter from the Housatonic Railroad Company regarding a recent cease and desist order from the commission.
Larry Edwards, Professional Engineer, 227 Stepney Rd., Easton, representing William Joyce in the application for a 38-lot subdivision on Sherman and Berkshire Roads, presented answers to the commission's questions from the last meeting.
Mr. Edwards presented four alternative development plans as requested by the commission using scenarios the applicant considered before deciding on the plan presented to the commission.
The first alternative used a cluster development concept. The 38 houses would be grouped closer together and the road would increase from 3600 feet in length to 4400, increasing the impervious surface area.
Open space would increase by 12.5 acres. Future homeowners would be restricted by the cluster development regulations, which state each house's footprint cannot exceed 10 percent of its allotted space, which effectively prevents homeowners from adding pools, decks or additions.
The second alternative used a different road configuration of 4100 feet in length. There was no reduction of the indirect impact on the wetlands and the direct impact would increase.
The third alternative, which suggested yet another road configuration, would disturb a larger area and have a greater direct impact on wetlands.
The final alternative proposed using affordable housing regulations. The plan would allow for 100 units and 12 individual homes.
Mr. Edwards said the applicant did not pursue this plan because it would require modifications to the zoning regulations.
Mr. Edwards said the applicant feels the plan currently proposed is the best choice.
Commissioner Philip Kotch said the four plans are not alternatives if the number of houses, 38, does not change.
Mr. Edwards responded, "That's in your mind. In our mind, we feel 38 lots are a reasonable use of this property. We stand by that."
He went on to describe how he calculated alternative review limits to take into account the steep slopes present on the property.
Mr. Edwards focused on lots 19 and 21 and provided the calculations, saying these lots had been the focus of attention during the application.
Commissioner Kotch noted that the greater the slope, the greater the potential damage and said a previous applicant had picked a building area closest to a slope for calculation purposes.
Commissioner Katya Pieragostini agreed with Dr. Kotch, saying she expected Mr. Edwards to use the steepest slope.
Mr. Edwards defended his choice, saying there is no building at the steepest slope and he used the lots with the closest proximity and highest impact.
George Logan, Rema Ecological Services, Manchester, addressed the commission's request that he review the soil delineation on the property.
Mr. Logan noted that maps do not always agree with what is in the field. He said that, in this case, the test pits proved the map to be accurate.
He presented specific calculations for four proposed filtration basins on the property. He said his work satisfied himself and anyone else that the basins meet and exceed standards set for removal of Total Suspended Solids.
Mr. Logan added that the town would be responsible for the annual cleanout of the basins.
Sigrun Gadwa, Rema Ecological Services, Manchester, addressed the 17 watercourses identified at the last meeting by a member of the public, Richard Boritz, 30 Still Hill Rd.
Seven were not located on the applicant's property. One was not marked on the applicant's plan, but does not qualify as wetlands and there is no building proposed in the area.
She also addressed the public's concern for native species. She gave the commission her credentials as a botanist and assured the commission that her investigation is reliable.
Ms. Gadwa added there would be no direct impact on native species because of the breadth and extent of the wildlife corridor on the property.
After the applicant's presentation, Mr. Boritz questioned why Mr. Edwards would reject the cluster development alternative during public participation.
The applicant provided a request for an extension so the commission could review the new information and revisit the application at the next meeting.
Lucas Hellerich, AECOM, Rocky Hill, representing Noranda Metals Industries in its effort to remove contaminants from 11 Prospect Drive and 40/50 Mile Hill Road South, presented revised drawings to show how the applicant proposes to remove the contaminant from the area over a period of 10 years.
After the work is done, the applicant will restore the area to its original condition.
A temporary road used for moving equipment during the project will be removed and the plantings will be brought back.
There will be a five-year period where the plantings will be monitored to ensure their health.
Rob Sibley, deputy director of the Land Use Agency, said this situation was part of a bigger contamination and the commission's focus is now on the impact of the remediation work on the wetlands, specifically how to move equipment and personnel to and from the site.
He noted the presentation focused on pollution mitigation and not the impact of work on the wetlands.
Mr. Hellerich believes the application shows a temporary disturbance to the wetlands and said the contaminant is currently 50 times the allowable limit and causing risk to ecological receptors.
Commissioner Edward Bryan asked if the disruption to the wetlands is outweighed by the need for remediation and Mr. Hellerich agreed it is.
In response to a question from Dr. Kotch, Mr. Hellerich said there will be appreciable declines in the contaminant within two years. He added the applicant is committed to this project and able to conduct the soil remediation.
The commission thanked Mr. Hellerich and said the presentation was very thorough.
Mr. Sibley said he had received a letter from the Housatonic Railroad Company addressed to the Inland Wetlands Commission, stating the railroad was working diligently on its application for the next commission meeting and planned to discontinue filling.
Ann Astarita, Inland Wetlands enforcement official, ordered the Housatonic Railroad Company on August 13 to cease and desist all filling activities associated with extending a rail spur.
The railroad is required to file a permit application and gain approval from the Inland Wetlands Commission prior to any filling activities.
A special meeting was held on August 19 so that the railroad could be heard by the commission.
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sent a letter on the same day, stating the railroad was "required to comply with the State's Wetlands Act, but also abide by orders issued by a municipality pursuant to that law."
Mr. Blumenthal's letter went on to say, "[The railroad's] non-compliance is a flagrant violation of state law and properly exercised municipal authority - a violation [Mr. Blumenthal] will not tolerate."
Both Mr. Sibley and Ms. Astarita were able to confirm there was no additional activity adding material to the pile in the center of the north portion of the site.