Neighbors continue to battle proposed Wheelers Farms Road apartment plan
Voicing their continued opposition to the plans for a 180-unit apartment building on Wheelers Farms Road, neighbors pleaded with the Planning and Zoning Board at its June 16 public hearing, asking the board to deny the plan.
About 60 residents attended the hearing, 13 of whom expressed their continued opposition to the proposal, citing concerns of increased traffic and storm water runoff.
The previous hearing on May 19 attracted about 100 residents, many of the same people. At the May hearing, 22 of them expressed opposition.
The neighbors spoke about the possibility that development of the site, including blasting, leveling, and the addition of fill would increase storm water runoff onto their properties.
They also expressed concern that an already difficult traffic situation on East Rutland and Wheelers Farms roads would only worsen with the addition of 180 apartments. As each speaker left the podium, those in the audience signaled their approval with loud cheers and clapping.
Jane O'Connell of 102 East Rutland Road said the area groundwater is really high and there are no storm drains on East Rutland Road. She said the buildings and roadways would increase surface runoff.
“A lot of us are still on septic systems and some are on wells,” said O'Connell. “The blasting will affect us. The earthwork is massive, large-scale excavating with blasting, digging, and trucking in 36,000 yards of fill.”
Commenting on the narrow lanes on East Rutland Road, O'Connell said buses, large vehicles, and snowplows cannot be passed safely. She said trucks ignore the height restriction for the parkway bridge over East Rutland Road, causing them to back into her driveway when they realize they cannot proceed. Other times neighbors have to call the police to guide the drivers. Sometime she said truck drivers force their way through and rip off the truck tops.
O'Connell said the Police Commission unanimously denied the application because it did not meet the regulations. She asked the board to deny the plan based on health and safety reasons. She presented a petition in opposition, saying it now had more than 1,000 signatures.
Possible contamination and more
William Elliott of 65 East Rutland Road said the apartment property was used as a junkyard from the 1950s to the 1970s. Elliott said there could be PCBs on the property in motor oils and other fluids that leaked from the cars. He said there should be a study with soil samples to look for contaminants. He said the property was also used as a farm and there could be pesticide residues in the area.
Paul DiPrato of 166 East Rutland Road disagreed with the applicant's traffic study. DiPrato said people use East Rutland Road as a cut through to avoid traffic on Rt. 1. DiPrato said the study also does not predict future traffic, such as when the addition to Southwick Condominiums is built, and the 257-apartments are built on Bic Drive.
“It's unfair that we have to be subjected to further impacts,” said DiPrato.
Ruth Krasenics of 86 East Rutland Road presented a petition to deny the proposal. Krasenics said the high water table in the area results in flooded basements and yards. She said the blasting would affect people's house foundations. She also said the water problems cause 40 feet of road to break up year after year.
Michael O'Connell of 102 East Rutland Road said, “Why didn't the traffic study show the impact on East Rutland Road? It's a known shortcut from Exit 36 to Exit 39.” He said the traffic study was done in February when traffic counts were lighter due to snow and related cancellations.
'Are we the Post Road?'
Jane King of 159 Wheelers Farms Road said she lives at the southern end of the road and fought a past proposal to widen and straighten the road near the firehouse. She said her father was killed crossing the road in years past. King said she drives daily on the road to access the Wilbur Cross Parkway and said there are already three traffic lights in a half-mile stretch of road.
“Are we the Post Road? You will be making us the Post Road,” said King. “We used to be one of the most beautiful streets in Milford.