New proposal for ‘Stew Leonard’ property in Orange

The property at 161 Marsh Hill Road in Orange.

The property at 161 Marsh Hill Road in Orange.

Scannell Properties LLC, a major out-of-state development company, took the first step Tuesday, Sept. 11, in the process to build a 40,000-square-foot service/distribution center with a fueling facility at 161 Marsh Hill Road, more commonly known as the “Stew Leonard” property.

An attorney, engineers and wetlands biologist appeared before the town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission during a public hearing with a plan that includes a “robust” stormwater treatment plan, according to one of the engineers. There are five wetlands, two of which are manmade, to which the plan would not cause significant impact, soil scientist Dean Gustafson said.

Officials were still hearing details of the plan late Tuesday and no decision had yet been made.

The 41 acres, still owned by supermarket mogul Stew Leonard Jr. — who spent some 14 years trying to get approval for a supermarket before giving up — is located in a Light Industrial 2 zone.

The developer has been in talks with town officials on how to make the plan work.

Leonard’s original application called for a 120,000-square-foot dairy store along with a new restaurant and 50,000 square feet of additional retail space.

The determined Leonard was defeated in his attempts largely because of the dogged persistence of a resident group, Save Our Neighborhood, or SON, which kept taking Leonard to court.

The property price is not listed for the public to see, but at one point Leonard was seeking $14.5 million for the Marsh Hill Road property, off Interstate 95’s Exit 41. He paid $2.2 million for the land in 1996.

The store was expected to generate $500,000 to $700,000 in new tax revenue and create more than 400 jobs. Save Our Neighborhood spent more than $100,000 fighting Leonard in court.

Tangoe, a software company headquartered in Orange, was to move onto the site, but that plan for a four-story office building fell through. Shelton developer R.D. Scinto had an option to buy the land and build Tangoe’s headquarters, but that has expired.