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Wetlands Agency Seeks More Data On Exit 11 Retail Site



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After lengthy discussion on March 11 about proposed steps to be taken to protect wetlands and watercourses at a 3.07-acre site at 32 Berkshire Road (Route 34), where local developer James F. Walsh proposes the construction of a 14,000-square-foot retail center, Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) members continued a public hearing so that members could review additional technical information from the developer.

That IWC public hearing initially was slated to resume on March 25, but the hearing has been canceled in light of the coronavirus situation. The hearing will be rescheduled.

The March 11 hearing lasted about two hours, covering many issues concerning surface water quality protection in the environmentally sensitive area, which is in the Aquifer Protection District above the Pootatuck Aquifer.

Mr Walsh is seeking a wetlands/watercourses protection permit for the project from the IWC.

Curtis Pond Brook crosses the southern section of the site after passing below a new bridge on Toddy Hill Road. At the site, there are about 0.56 acres of wetlands. The proposed 14,000-square-foot building would hold a 2,800-square-foot restaurant. A parking lot would contain 88 parking spaces. Main access at the site would be at Toddy Hill Road, with secondary access at Berkshire Road. The property would be served by a large septic system and individual water well.

The commercial project is being proposed in conjunction with a long-planned $17.7-million state roadway improvement project for the congested Exit 11 area of Interstate 84. That project is slated to start during the 2021 construction season.

Civil engineer Russell Cyr of Solli Engineering LLC of Monroe, representing the developer, told IWC members that the project would not have “direct” impacts on wetlands. The proposed construction, however, would have “indirect” impacts on wetlands due to earth moving in upland areas adjacent to wetlands. Besides wetlands, the IWC regulates activities in the 100-foot-wide areas adjacent to wetlands known as uplands.

Stormwater control for the site will involve channeling rainwater from impervious surfaces and then discharging it in adjacent wetlands.

IWC Chairman Sharon Salling asked that a buffer, such as a fence, be placed near Curtis Pond Brook to prevent blowing litter on the site from getting into the brook. She also requested a snow removal plan for the property.

IWC member Suzanne Guidera asked about steps that would be taken to protect the quality of stormwater discharged into Curtis Pond Brook. Mr Cyr explained that a separator, which removes most solids and pollutants from stormwater, would be employed. The stormwater would then flow into an infiltration basin to purify it, he said.

The stormwater would be shed from impervious surfaces such as the parking lot, sidewalks, and the building’s roof.

Public Comment

During the public comment section of the hearing, four people raised questions.

Those questions concerned the presence of debris in Curtis Pond Brook; whether the 32 Berkshire Road development project is subject to other town agencies’ review and approval; possible thermal pollution of Curtis Pond Brook; and whether the project would physically affect a Toddy Hill Road property.

IWC members agreed to resume the hearing at an upcoming meeting to discuss additional information that they have requested from the applicant.

The Planning and Zoning Commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing on the development proposal on March 19, but the coronavirus situation resulted in that hearing being canceled. That hearing will be rescheduled.

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