North Street housing plan pits neighbors against developer's experts

A May 6 Inland-Wetlands Agency (IWA) public hearing on a proposed 63-unit community at 701 North Street pitted the developer's experts against concerned neighbors who are seeking to stop the project.
The meeting was moved from a conference room at the Parsons Government Center to the City Hall Auditorium to accommodate the group of 40 neighbors in attendance.
Stone Preserve LLC, of 500 Boston Post Road, Milford, of which Arnold Peck is the manager, filed the application to build 63 single-family homes on the seven-acre parcel, which is zoned for one acre per house.
When it comes before the Planning and Zoning Board, the application will be filed under the state's affordable housing regulations, Connecticut General Statute 8-30g, which overrides local zoning rules. The North Street application has yet to be filed with the P&Z, so there is no date yet for that public hearing.
The IWA hearing took place because the application calls for construction, parking and grading within 150 feet of an off-site wetland or watercourse in the Wepawaug River watershed.
In presenting the application, Attorney Thomas Lynch referred to the project as a Planned Unit Development (PUD) consisting of detached three- and four-bedroom homes that will be sold and managed by a private association. Lynch said the homes will be range from 1,500 to 1,800 square feet and will be built on a slab without a basement.
Under the state's affordable housing law, 30% of the houses or 19 homes will be sold to people making not more than 60% or 80% of the area's median income. Since the median income in the area is high, the affordable units would sell for about $300,000 as compared to $400,000 for the units not labeled under the state law, said Lynch.
This is the third application the IWA has approved at this location. Lynch said that Inland Wetlands Officer MaryRose Palumbo issued a jurisdictional ruling in 2008 to Cornerstone Community Church for a church that was never built.
He said she also issued a jurisdictional ruling for a six-lot subdivision in 2014, approving the wetlands application. The subdivision proposal from Stone Preserve was withdrawn by the applicant after the public hearing before the P&Z.
Lynch said Stone Preserve has a 25-foot wide easement over property owned by Barbara Lisman on Platt Lane, which the applicant plans to use to connect to water and natural gas lines on Platt Lane. He said installing these lines will involve work within 150 feet of wetlands located on the Lisman property.
Wetlands Not Affected
Project Engineer Robert J. Wheway said there are three wetlands near the property: Two on land owned by the Orchards Golf Course, and one on the Lisman property. One wetland is 62.5 feet from a proposed house, while another is 113 feet from another proposed house.
Wheway said the property is located in the Wepawaug River watershed basin, but is located in Zone X, which means it is out-side the 500-year floodplain.
Wheway said the water supply would come from Platt Lane be-cause the static pressure is 65 pound per square inch (PSI) in the 12-inch water main there, as compared to 32 PSI in the 16-inch main on North Street. The 12-inch main will connect to the 16-inch main on North Street as well.
“We will be able to provide a better water supply to the property and to North Street,” said Wheway. “It will boost up the pressure on North Street.”
Commenting on the storm drainage plan, Wheway said, “Due to the level of development, it could be expected to have increases in runoff,” but he said the project will use porous asphalt pavement, which he said is a “best management practice” from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Wheway said benefits of porous asphalt include a reduction in runoff, a reduction in rate flow, and also recharging groundwater. Under the pavement will be a mixture of smaller and larger stones to provide gaps where water can be stored before soaking into the ground. Water from the roof leaders and gutters will also be directed into this underground gallery.
“There is literally no run off that occurs in this type of system,” said Wheway.
He said porous asphalt also reduces the thermal impact of storms because water will flow underground where it cools, as compared to regular asphalt where pavement-warmed water flows away. He said the porous pavement, combined with a stone base will filter heavy metals and other pollutants from the surface.
In the winter this type of system almost eliminates black ice because any snow and ice that melt will drain into the under-ground system, said Wheway. To maintain the porous surface, he said sanding is prohibited, although deicers may be used.
Otto Theall, professional soil scientist, said there are two sections of wetlands on the golf course, one that is 5,200 square feet, and the other that is 7,000 square feet. He said the wetlands on the Lisman property are 42,000 square feet.
Theall described the golf course wetlands as “relatively low value” because they are created by people, as evidenced by their bowl shape and because of the invasive plant species that live there, the phragmites reed and the thorny multi-flora rose shrub.
“The two wetlands on the golf course provide some functionality,” said Theall, because they retain runoff and nutrients from the golf course.
Theall said the Lisman wetland is wooded with a variety of native plants, including red maple and spice bush. He said this wetland offers more value and it, too, traps water, sediments and nutrients from run off.
Discussing how development might affect these three wetlands, Theall said construction on the easement would come within 25 feet of the wetlands on the Lisman property, which he said would be a temporary disturbance. With regard to the golf course, Theall said, “The wetlands on the golf course have degraded over time. This project will not cause further degradation of these wetlands.”
Landscape Planner Jeffrey Gordon said the project would include a typical landscape plan for single-family homes. Gordon said he will look at which existing trees to save and will supplement those with shrubs, such as holly and arborvitae.
Gordon said there are invasive plants on the site that need to be eradicated, including bittersweet vines, Japanese knotweed, and bamboo. “A few people have come around to remind us of our need to deal with the bamboo,” said Gordon.
He said all houses would have a garage to park either one or two cars, plus room in the driveway for two additional cars. There will be some visitor parking, which could also be used in winter for temporary snow storage.
Joseph R. Codespodi, founder of Codespodi and Associates, summarized the presentation by saying the P&Z would deal with the effect of constructing 63 houses, but the IWA has the task to determine if this proposal will cause a loss to the wetlands, or degenerate wetlands or a water-course.
“The answer is very clearly 'no;” said Codespodi. “There are no clearing and activities that will adversely affect the wetlands. There are no wetlands and there is no watercourse on this property.”
Pesticide Residue Questioned
Of the 40 people who attended the public hearing, 20 spoke in opposition, expressing concerns about pesticide residues and water runoff from the property.
Julian Groeger of 200 Platt Lane raised concerns about the pesticides that were used on the property when it was an apple orchard. Groeger said pesticides such as lead arsenate are in the soil and would be disturbed by construction. He requested the applicant complete a grid soil test and have a plan to deal with the arsenic from the pesticides. He also presented a petition that he said had 500 signatures against the application.
John Nowicki of 710 North Street said he worked on the former Platt Farm, which operated for 40 years, and later knew Gary Novelli who had an apple and peach orchard on the property. Nowicki said that Novelli would spray his trees six to 10 times per year over a 10-year period.
“I have a big concern about pesticide contamination,” said Nowicki, saying the pesticides when disturbed could get into the water, air, and also the wetlands. He said pesticides included DDT and mercury, which have long half-lives in the soil. Nowicki said he wanted a soil analysis.
Gwen Bruno of Vincent Street said the eastern box turtle lives in the area where development is proposed. Bruno said the box turtle is listed as an endangered species by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“I believe this development will wipe out or close to wipe out the eastern box turtle in our area,” said Bruno.
Barbara Lisman of 201 Platt Road said she had to install a supplemental water pump in her basement to boost the water pressure. She said she and her late husband Frederick, former mayor of Milford, purchased the rear lot to leave it undeveloped.
Lisman said she has water problems on her property, saying at times she has a running stream in her yard, and at other times has standing water. She said she wanted a soil test for pesticides.
“Our one block has a higher than normal incidence of cancer,” said Lisman. “I'm one of the vic-tims.”
Ivan Fossesignurani of Pond Street said he has family at 594 North Street. He said when there was a gasoline leak from two underground tanks on the 701 North Street property, the gasoline contaminated his well and the family had to use bottled water supplied by the state until the problem was resolved. He said oil and gasoline from cars at the 63 units would seep through the pavement and get to the water table.
Michael Tylutki of 70 Eisenhower Drive said he was concerned about the long-term maintenance of the porous pavement. Tylutki said the IWA recommendation should include making the road maintenance an obligation of the community.
“I think you have to consider the effect on the wetlands down the line and the Wepawaug River,” said Tylutki.
Applicant Response
In response to the concerns from residents, Lynch said Stone Preserve had an environmental study completed when it purchased the property and had a pesticide sampling report done in August 2014.
Lynch said construction would follow DEEP rules for former agricultural properties, such as using any pesticide-containing soil onsite for underground fill or removing it, but not using it as topsoil. He said the gasoline tanks were removed in 2008 under DEEP supervision and no further investigation or remediation is required.
Wheway said the homeowner association would be responsible for maintaining the asphalt pavement. This would include not using sand, vacuuming the asphalt twice a year, hydrospraying leaf residue in late fall, and routine cleaning on a regular basis. He said a review of the DEEP's natural diversity database did not show any rare or endangered species on the property.