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Warehouse Hearing Set For May 5, Protest Rallies Planned



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With the continuation of a public hearing for a warehouse at 10 Hawleyville Road coming up at 7 pm Thursday, May 5, in the Edmond Town Hall Theatre, a number of protest rallies against the development are being planned.

Wharton Equity Partners of New York is currently before the Planning & Zoning Commission with a proposal for a 330,440 square foot warehouse to be built on a 104 acre property in an M-2A industrial zone.

The property, 10 Hawleyville Road, is located at the intersection of Hawleyville Road and Mt Pleasant Road on wetlands, near Exit 9 off I-84. The property is bounded by I-84 to the north, Hawleyville Road to the West and Mt Pleasant Road to the south. To the east is undeveloped property.

With the parcel located near several residential neighborhoods, homeowners from the area have expressed concerns about what a lawyer representing them characterized as a “76-door, 24/7 beehive of activity” located so close to their homes. More than 200 people crowded into the largest gathering space at the Newtown Community Center April 7 when the hearing convened.

According to a press release from rally organizers, the project is being labeled as a “megawarehouse, which residents have reason to believe will be a transfer station.” The release expresses concern that the developers “have not revealed the potential tenant(s).”

“Such an enterprise would bring with it unfathomable traffic and congestion to a residential neighborhood,” states the release. “Potentially 200 tractor trailers per day going in and out 24/7/365, and 350 employees might circle the area, emitting noxious fumes (this location is within 500 feet of two schools for young children), noise, harm to endangered species, to name just a few potential hazards. These trucks will impact not just the neighborhood of the intended proposal; Bethel, Brookfield, and much of Newtown may see tractor trailers using Hawleyville Road, Stony Hill Road, Mt Pleasant, Route 25 (yes, past the flagpole!) and all ancillary routes to I-84 in order to access I-95 in Bridgeport.”

Rally dates are 11 am to noon, Saturday, April 30, at Edmond Town Hall’s main entrance, 45 Main Street (rain date May 1); 5 to 5:30 pm, Monday, May 2, at the Mt Pleasant and Hawleyville Road intersection, near exit 9 off I-84 (weather permitting); 5 to 5:30 pm at the Flagpole at the intersection of Main Street and Church Hill Road (weather permitting); 5 to 5:30 pm Wednesday, May 4, at the Mt Pleasant and Hawleyville Road intersection, near exit 9 off I-84 (weather permitting); and 5 to 5:30 pm Wednesday, May 4, at the Main Street and Sugar Street intersection near Ram’s Pasture.

Project ‘Less Intense’

At the April 7 public hearing, Wharton Industrial representatives said the proposed warehouse was a “less intense” use of the property than any of a long list of prior projects proposed for the property that never came to fruition.

Those projects included the Mendik Newtown Corporate Office in 1979, a 200,000 square foot medical office building with a 90,000 square foot mixed retail building and 335 age-restricted apartments in 1997; the GE corporate headquarters in 2003 and Newtown Crossings in 2011 — which would have been a 527,000 square foot mixed retail building with 184 residential units and a 100 room hotel.

The property currently has “extensive areas” of thick vegetation, and the town has “long planned for development of the site,” said Atty Thomas Cody of Robinson and Cole, a Hartford law firm. Cody said a lack of sewer lines to the area was a “long-time hindrance” to development, and the town recently installed sewer lines to help attract development.

Cody noted that design plans for the property would only have 7% building coverage when regulations allow a maximum of 35%; and regulations allow up to 70% of the property to be impervious coverage such as pavement while the current proposed design only calls for 16%.

Matthew Bruton, an engineer with BL Companies architectural and engineering firm, said that most of the existing vegetation “will not be touched,” and additional trees will be planted to help block noise. The plan, which includes four storm water catch basins, will “not pollute or impair the existing wetlands on the site.” Landscaping will “maintain as much vegetation as possible and will be an “attractive site for visitors and employees.”

Bruton said there would be no light spillage from the property.

Two Traffic Studies

Michael Dion, a traffic engineer with BL Companies, said a traffic study was done with 2021 counts and “applies a COVID adjustment” as well as an annual growth rate adjustment, and has been approved by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.

He said they looked at trips during the “peak am and pm hours,” and the warehouse would “not add 100 new trips to any area” surrounding the development. Dion said that the developers know that the town is very concerned so we looked out much further than normal.”

A third party review of the traffic study is underway, and Benson said that the results of that would be presented at the May 5 hearing. That study is now available for review at the land use office.

Pete Kilty, with EKD Construction Company, said that the building will not be visible from more areas around the property, with it being partially visible at the mouth of the driveway, and the top of the building being partially observable from homes on Whippoorwill Road, which is elevated above the property.

A sound study was presented by Ben Mueller of Ostergaard Acoustical Association, who said that potential impacts were studied and “mitigated as needed.” He said the goal was to keep constant noise leaked to neighboring properties under 55 decibels during the day and 45 dB at night, while local zoning says that up to 70 dB are allowable on industrial properties.

Mueller said that the location of the building, truck court and driveway are “all acoustically beneficial” and that with the addition of an eight foot tall, 300 foot long sound barrier fence along the southern border of the property, that there was “no negative acoustic impact expected from this project.”

At the May 5 continuation, P&Z Chairman Dennis Bloom said he is inclined to keep the existing three-minute time limit on each member of the public’s comments, but that may be subject to change. He said he will also reiterate any other ground rules that will be enforced due to the anticipated size of the audience for that meeting.

Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at jim@thebee.com.

A group of local residents opposed to the proposed Hawleyville warehouse development have planned a series of protest rallies leading up to the next Planning & Zoning Commission meeting on May 5. A public hearing on that project is in progress, and will continue at 7 pm that evening in the Edmond Town Hall Theatre.
BL Companies, the engineering firm that is engaged on the Hawleyville warehouse proposal, created this computer-generated visual of what the finished warehouse project and access road might look like in elevation looking east from the opposite side of Hawley Road.
As part of its presentation to the Newtown Planning & Zoning Commission, BL Companies, the engineering firm that is engaged on the Hawleyville warehouse proposal, created this site plan with Interstate 84 pictured extending across the top of the image, and Hawleyville Road bordering the property to the left.
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