Controversial Naugatuck Avenue recycling plant resurfaces

Company appealing revocation of certificate

FILE PHOTO: A sign at the 990 Naugatuck Avenue in 2013.

FILE PHOTO: A sign at the 990 Naugatuck Avenue in 2013.

The legal and regulatory battle to create a 45,000-square-foot recycling facility at 990 Naugatuck Avenue continues at both the state and local level.

The applicant, Housatonic Terminal LLC, is appealing revocation of its Certificate of Zoning Compliance (CZC) to the Milford Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA is conducting a public hearing on the matter on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Meanwhile, Recycling Inc. has filed a court appeal of the decision by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) revoking Recycling Inc.’s permit to construct a volume reduction facility in Milford.

City Zoning Enforcement Officer Stephen Harris issued the CZC on May 22, 2015 to allow a “limited processing recycling facility,” and then revoked it on July 14, 2015, when he learned that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) revoked Recycling Inc.’s permit to construct a volume reduction facility on the property.

The CZC would have allowed the company to “receive, store, and process only recyclable materials in accordance with the limits of the DEEP permit” of Aug. 16, 2010 that has since been revoked.

At the July 14 ZBA meeting, Attorney Brian Stone asked the board to overturn the decision by Harris and grant the certificate to the Housatonic Terminal LLC, which Stone was representing. Stone said the certificate is necessary to reestablish non-conforming use of the property.

In response, Harris told the ZBA that he revoked the certificate because he learned that the DEEP had revoked the certificate in 2014 for Recycling Inc. to operate a recycling facility.

Joseph Barrett, who is listed as the member and agent of the LLC, told the board that he held a mortgage on the property and regained ownership from Recycling Inc. through foreclosure and forbearance.

In the application for the CZC, it stated that Housatonic Terminal LLC has a contract to purchase the property from Recycling Inc., and that Joseph Barrett is the sole member of the LLC and has, along with other family members, owned this parcel since 1955, until the sale to Recycling Inc. on Oct. 22, 2008.

According to the application, Barrett has operated a variety of businesses, including salvaging and recycling, heavy trucking, manufacturing, owning and maintaining heavy equipment, and selling light and heavy oil and asphalt.

The application is challenging a July 16, 2009 regulation change by the P&Z, which prohibited waste processing, construction demolition debris storage and processing, recycling plants, and volume reduction facilities in the Housatonic Design District (HDD) along the Housatonic River. The application states, “The Barrett family never had any intent to abandon the above uses.”

According to the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office, the Housatonic Terminal Corporation was registered on May 11, 1955, and the last year it filed with the state was in 1985. The state records list that corporation as “dissolved.” It listed Edgar W. Bassick III of Bridgeport as the agent.

The state has Housatonic Terminal LLC listed as registered on Dec. 19, 2014, with Joseph Barrett of 150 Johnson Lane, Stratford, listed as the agent.

Gus Curcio Sr. of Stratford is listed as Recycling Inc.’s president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and director.

The city’s Inland-Wetlands officer issued a permit extension to Recycling Inc. for its permit to operate within 100 feet of the Housatonic River. The original permit was issued April 7, 2010, and expired April 7, 2015. The extension moves the expiration date to April 7, 2019.

State Legal Proceedings

Janice Deshais, hearing officer for the DEEP, conducted a hearing in 2014 and issued a 45-page finding on Aug. 25, 2014, in which she recommended the DEEP revoke the permit for Recycling Inc. because the application did not identify Curcio as being associated with the company. DEEP regulations require that officers and stockholders be listed on a permit application.

The DEEP had concerns about Curcio’s involvement with the company, in part due to enforcement action it took against him and his son Gus Curcio Jr. for operating a waste processing facility at 990 Naugatuck Avenue in 2007 without a permit.

According to the DEEP hearing, Darlene Chapdelaine of Eastford prepared the application in 2008, and listed James Barrett as RCI’s stockholder and sole corporate officer, an application that he signed.

Chapdelaine operated the company from 2009 to 2012 under Curcio’s direction, while simultaneously asserting she was the sole owner. However, in 2012 Curcio took civil action and asserted his ownership of the company.

The DEEP contacted Chapdelaine in 2012, saying she was not filing quarterly reports in the time frame and detail required by the DEEP.

In the decision, Deshais wrote, “RCI’s myriad representations, falsehoods and inaccuracies, the histories of non-compliance of Curcio and RCI, including RCI’s failure to submit correct and complete quarterly reports, evidence a pattern or practice of non-compliance, which demonstrates RCI’s unwillingness or inability to achieve and maintain compliance with terms of a permit that might be issued and the terms of the existing general permit.”

Following an appeal from Recycling Inc., DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan K. Whalen reviewed the evidence, and on Feb. 5, 2015 supported Deshais’ decision.

Whalen issued a final 16-page decision to deny Recycling Inc.’s permit application and revoke its general permit registration. In her report, Whalen wrote, “RCI submitted false, incomplete, and incorrect information in its permit application and in its application to register under the general permit.”

Whalen also wrote, “Regardless of his business title, Curcio Sr. was, as demonstrated by overwhelming evidence, a key player in RCI, and should have been identified based on this statute.”

Whalen indicated that Curcio was the sole financier of RCI, possessed ownership interest in the business, and was “significantly involved in the day-to-day operation and management of RCI.”

Recycling Inc. appealed Whalen’s decision to Superior Court on March 20, claiming Whalen acted in excess of the DEEP’s statutory authority.

The decision by Deshais may be read at http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/adjudica-tions/decisions_pdf/2014/082514RCIProposedFinalDecision.pdf

The decision by Whalen may be read at http://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/adjudica-tions/decisions_pdf/2015/022615_RCI_Final_Decisionissuedatecorrected.pdf

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