Condo developer back with plan for community behind transfer station

ORANGE - A proposal to develop property behind the town's transfer station that has been repeatedly denied by both the Inland Wetlands and Town Plan and Zoning commission's is back before the two town panels.

At issue is Ravenswood Homes developer Dean Fiske of Cheshire who has been attempting to develop this parcel of property since 2002 when he first approached the IWC with conceptual plans.

Fiske has been proposing to construct Lakeside Village, a six-building complex with 72 units with 30 percent, or 22 units, affordable housing.

The Town Plan and Zoning Commission last week had the issue on its agenda. Fiske has sued both commissions and the town is in negotiations with Fiske to settle.

Zoning enforcement officer Paul Dinice confirmed the town was considering settling with Fiske.

"We have been in negotiations with the applicant with the possibility of a settlement," Dinice said adding that the TPZ was awaiting the inland Wetlands Decision which is expected to take place this week.

The IWC voted unanimously to accept revised plans Tuesday which include a reduction in units to 63, a retaining wall, improved drainage and an realignment of the access way to the bridge.

The plans have been denied for various reasons including public safety concerns including the knowledge that in the 1940s and `50s gravel was excavated and garbage was buried at the site.

In the Oct. 11, 2006 issue of the Bulletin DEP Director of Waste Engineering and Enforcement Division Robert Isner was asked about development on closed landfills he said the DEP would need to be involved.

"If there is any activity on top of or disruption of the landfill, for even a utility line, additional DEP approval would need to be given," he said.

Isner said that typical post landfill uses would include parking lots and passive recreation areas. But buildings, one story or many stories, are not normally allowed.

"We typically don't allow footings and such to be in direct contact with landfills," Isner said.

Isner explained there is concern for release of methane gases.

The application was also denied due to traffic issues.

The Orange Police Department conducted a traffic study at South Orange Center Road, the proposed entrance and exit to the development.

Police Chief Robert Gagne told the TPZ that there was significant queuing of vehicles.

The report and accompanying photos showed that at random times traffic was backed up past the rear driveway to Jacob Marley's (now Ocean Grille) restaurant as well as numerous vehicles exiting the Home Depot rear parking lot.

Town Engineer and Public Works Director Ed Lieberman also expressed concern for the project.

He spoke of flooding issues specifically a 5-year rainstorm in 1996 that caused extensive flooding over most of the area.

"The proposed site plans call for extensive filling over most of the area where the water was in April 1996. A repeat of the conditions that existed in April 1996 after this land is filled in will force all the water onto other properties. This should not be permitted," Lieberman wrote

The issue will be discussed at the Jan. 15 Town Plan and Zoning Commission meeting. No public hearing is planned on the issue.