Sunday, July 03, 2022

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IWC Moves Clinton Recycling Facility Decision to June

After months of testimony and meetings, residents of Clinton will have to wait one more month to find out the fate of the proposed recycling facility to be built on Route 145. On May 1, the Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) unanimously voted to table its decision on the application.

The IWC has until June 21 to make a decision on the application. A formal decision will likely come at the IWC’s next regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 5 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Green room. While no decision was made, the IWC members did briefly discuss the application; no members stated they were in favor of the application.

The applicant of the proposed facility is Shoreline Rail and Recycling, LLC (SRR). According to George Andrews of Louriero Engineering Associates, a company that has been representing SRR in front of the IWC, the proposed facility would house waste comprised of “construction and demolition debris.” Andrews has also said that there are no proposed activities to occur in the wetlands. The proposed facility would be more than 94,000 square feet and be built on the site of a former Unilever warehouse. The application has drawn the attention of two intervenors, Demco, LLC and Herb Clark, who have retained Attorney Campbell Hudson to fight the SRR application.

As a board, the IWC can only approve or deny applications based on their effects on the wetlands. The IWC held three public hearings on the application in 2018, at which the applicants presented details of the proposed facility and the public was able to ask questions and give opinions on the matter. At the three previous public hearings on the proposal, residents have cited concerns with the affect on shellfishing, what some say are inadequate flood management plans, possible contamination to the wetlands, and fire risks. Other residents have cited possible traffic conditions, zoning issues, and health hazards that cannot be addressed by the IWC.

For more information on the proposed facility including the flood plans, proposed uses of the facility, the intervenor’s case, and public comments, visit www.zip06.com.

At the May 1 meeting, IWC Chair David Radka said there were several reasons he wanted to postpone making a decision. Radka cited the “significant amount of material to digest,” a “reasonable expectation our opinion will be appealed,” and late changes made to the application as reasons for the IWC to spend more time thoroughly reviewing the application.

Radka said he had “serious concerns” about the kinds of material coming into the facility and the screening process that trucks would undergo upon entering the facility.

At the April 3 public hearing on the application, the applicant’s attorney, Timothy Shields, outlined grounds for an appeal of the decision. Shields told the IWC that the commission’s regulations “prohibit the applicant from providing any demonstrable evidence…to support their application unless they’re submitted 15 days prior to the hearing.”

Shields said the IWC issued a response to the applicant’s revised plans to Loureiro engineers on March 29, just five business days before the next public hearing, which he posits prevented the applicant from providing supporting evidence at least 15 days in advance.

“We feel that is a significant infringement on the due process rights of the applicant. We want to make that issue clear in the record so we can preserve that issue for appeal if necessary,” Shields said.

At the May 1 meeting, IWC member Scott Harley said he had concerns about the flood proofing of the proposed facility, which is within a 100-year flood plain, described on the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection website as a storm that “has a one-percent probability of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.”

“It should be a requirement for anything we approve,” Harley said about flood proofing buildings.

Commissioner Bertram Schmitz said he “hadn’t seen a lot of coordination between the developers and the Town of Clinton’s emergency services.” Schmitz also said he’d be interested in seeing documents that detail the inspection process of the facility, including who would conduct the inspections and what would be inspected.

Commissioner Andrea Woliver thanked the applicants for their “responsiveness in responding to questions” and echoed Radka’s concerns about the process of inspecting the trucks. Woliver stated that she “hadn’t made up my mind yet,” in terms of voting for or against the application.

Woliver drew the ire of some of the audience when she admitted that some of the scientific expertise presented in during the public hearings had been hard for her to follow; when a member of the audience asked why she was on the commission without a science background, Woliver responded, “Because I volunteered and none of you did.”

Commissioners Christopher Jones and Edward Alberino both stated that they were “leaning towards denial” of the application.

“What they proposed is a good idea, but not the location,” Alberino said.

The SRR proposals has drawn significant interest from the public. The three public hearings on the application were held at The Morgan School to accommodate the large crowd that attended. Though the May 1 meeting was held in the Town Hall instead of the school, there was still a large audience in attendance. At all three of the public hearings, no members of the public spoke in favor of the application.


Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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