State denies city's request to shut Recycling Inc.

A controversial recycling facility will not be shut down, even though the City of Milford tried hard to prove to the state that it should be.
A state official last week denied the city’s request to dismiss Recycling Inc.’s application to expand its facilty at 990 Naugatuck Avenue, saying dismissing the application would violate the company owner’s rights.

Janice B. Seshais, hearing officer for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), denied the city’s request to dismiss the proceeding, rescind a tentative determination, and reject the application, saying those measures “would result in an unacceptable violation of the applicant’s due process rights based solely on the city’s allegations.”
Seshais also denied the city’s request to revoke Recycling Inc.’s general permit, saying it would “unjustly impair the rights of other registrants.”
“It is noteworthy that nowhere in its Motion to Dismiss does the City take any issue with the fundamental reasons for granting a stay in this matter,” she wrote. “Rather, the City asks that I dismiss this proceeding without affording the applicant a hearing. Whether the City calls the relief it requests ‘dismissing this proceeding,’ ‘rescinding the tentative determination issued by the Comnissioner,’ or ‘rejecting the applicant’s application,’ the result is the same. The City has provided no basis for its extraordinary request which would clearly violate the applicant’s right to due process. In whatever form its requests for relief are framed, they are denied.”
Seshais said a hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, will determine the facts in the case, and give the applicant a chance to respond to the city’s allegations.
Recycling Inc.’s application to expand has been put on hold because of an ongoing court battle over who owns the company. The application will remain on hold until the case is resolved.
Separate court documents filed April 19 and 20 in Milford and Bridgeport superior courts show that Darlene Chapdelaine and Gus Curcio Sr. are battling over who owns the recycling facility. Chapdelaine argues that she owns the business, and she filed papers in Milford Superior Court to keep Curcio out. Curcio, in papers filed in Bridgeport Superior Court, maintains he owns the business and fired Chapdelaine April 12. Curcio filed a temporary injunction, in which he maintains that he owns the business at 990 Naugatuck Avenue and that Chapdelaine never did.
The city has been fighting the recycling facility on Naugatuck Avenue for several years. The city initially denied an application by Chapdelaine to open the recycling operation, but DEEP approval trumped the city’s denial at the time. The city has been fighting that ruling and others by the DEEP, arguing that the Milford location is not appropriate for a recycling facility.
Chapdelaine has said she plans to expand the business, create jobs, and bring recyclables in by barge on the Housatonic River. She said she has been working to create a premier recycling facility in the state.
Neighbors oppose the current facility, and the plan for expansion, saying it will bring in truck traffic to a residential area and possibly pollute the river.
Following last week’s DEEP decision, attorney David Slossberg, representing the city, criticized the state agency.
“DEEP kicked the can down the road instead of doing the right thing to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Milford,” Slossberg said. “If DEEP desires, we can certainly have a hearing, at which we expect to show not only how the application is defective, but also DEEP’s own negligence in handling it.”
Slossberg said he doesn’t understand how the state can let Recycling Inc. continue to operate if ownership is not clear.
The city is considering several follow-up strategies, but Slossberg said the Superior Court case may resolve the issue.
Chapdelaine said she will continue to fight to expand her business, and vehemently denies that Curcio owns the land or the company.
“I do feel blessed that DEEP supports me and my application, but they support it due to the documents I have presented, in support of my ownership. I have given them everything,” she said.