Storage yard approved on Shelland Street
Following discussions with neighbors, which resulted in slight project changes, a contractor’s outside storage and operations yard at 110 Shelland Street received Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approval on Jan. 3.
The board had extended the public hearing from Dec. 5, 2016, to give adjoining residential property owners the opportunity to meet with representatives from Mallico Construction, the property owner.
The storage yard is located on two adjacent lots totaling 3.11 acres of land, owned by Mallico Realty Company LLC of Orange, which lists James V. Mallico III as manager.
By a 7-2 vote, Mallico received a special permit and site plan approval to create the storage yard. The property is in the Housatonic Design District (HDD). The approval includes the conditions that the yard may not be used until a berm is installed along the rear property line and trees are planted on the berm.
Uses for the yard include storing roll-off Dumpsters and trucks, screening topsoil, and storing topsoil, rock and mulch in concrete bays for sale to contractors. A water truck would be used to control dust.
Operating hours will be limited to Mondays to Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The company had originally requested Saturday and Sunday hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Board member Jim Quish, who voted against approval, commented on the operating hours, saying, “I still think that is an undue burden on the neighbors,” indicating he thought weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. was a schedule that he could support.
“I understand this is a contractor’s yard, but there should be a gate to make sure a random Dumpster is not coming at 5 in the morning,” said Quish.
Board member Thomas Nichol, who voted in favor of the project, said, “Shelland Street is surrounded by heavy industry,” and said that small business operators at warehouses on Plains Road start before 7 a.m. “and come in as they see fit.”
Board member Richard Lutz, who made the motion to approve, said, “I don’t like to see people disturbed unnecessarily, but when you buy a property next to a long-established industrial area, there are certain things you have to expect.”
Berm and trees added
At the Dec. 5 public hearing, two families, one on Partridge Drive and the other on Tranquility Lane, asked the board to provide relief from noise and dust they said is related to the yard, which had been constructed without zoning approval.
At the Jan. 2 public hearing, Raymond A. Macaluso, owner of the engineering and surveying firm Westcott and Mapes, told the board that he met with the neighbors on Partridge Lane and Tranquility Way, and said, “Their basic concern was the dust, noise and everything that goes along with having a contractor’s yard by a residential area.”
In response to their concerns, Macaluso said the proposed berm at the rear of the property has been extended 120 feet along the north property line, adjacent to the property line for the house at 64 Tranquility Way.
The entire berm will be 30 to 35 feet wide, and will have a line of evergreen trees planted on it. Macaluso said the project was originally intended to have 31 evergreen trees, but it will now have 56 trees. The berm with the trees will be installed in the spring.
Macaluso said there are no trees on a 90-foot-wide strip of the 110-foot-wide city property between the Mallico property and Partridge Lane. He said the only trees there are a line of pine trees that were planted by the power company. He said if there were trees on this strip, it would provide additional buffer for the neighbors.
“They are using that city property,” said Macaluso.
Based on a review of aerial maps, the open area is a grassy area behind the property at 20 Partridge Lane that looks like the rear yard of the house, except that the city GIS maps show that much of that area is city-owned.
Nichol said, “Somebody is keeping that space open. It’s up to the neighbors to replant.”
Commenting on the dust concerns, Macaluso said, “There shouldn’t be any dust from the site because it is all paved asphalt.” He said Mallico would use a water truck to keep down any dust from materials stored in concrete bins.
Macaluso said Mallico did not reach an agreement with the neighbors regarding the proposed Sunday hours. The neighbors wanted Sunday hours eliminated, while the company was agreeable only to shorter hours.
Neighbors still have concerns
Responding to the revised proposal, attorney Jennifer Mongillo spoke on behalf of Michael and Linda Abdelsayd of 64 Tranquility Way. Mongillo said the trees and berm are helpful, but said the trees will take several years to grow. She requested that the yard not be permitted to operate on weekends, or at least not on Sundays.
Mongillo said there are no restrictions on the types of trucks or equipment used on the property, or on the types of materials stored, saying, “There are huge clouds of dust.” She also said the trucks are disruptive by their “constant beeping.”
Mongillo said Mallico has ignored a city-issued cease and desist order, commenting, “He [Mallico] has continued to work beyond the cease and desist order and beyond what he is proposing here.”
Sharon Chickos of 20 Partridge Lane said she met with Macaluso and attorney Win Smith, who represents Mallico, and said she agreed that the berm and trees will be an improvement. Chickos said, “We talked about no Sunday operations and I thought we both agreed to it.”
Commenting on the issue of the lack of trees, Chickos said, “I have been there since 1999 and there were no trees to remove. That’s why the power plant put the trees there.”
In response, Macaluso said he did speak with Mallico regarding a reduction in Sunday hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and said the company needs the occasional opportunity to do Sunday work to prepare for the week, commenting, “It would not be a steady diet.”
Responding to the question of dust, Macaluso said there are paving materials on the property that are completely compacted.
“He’s not moving any dirt … the dust is not coming from his property. The property to the southwest may be causing the dust,” said Macaluso.
According to city property records, the 1.61-acre property to the west is owned by Prindle Hill Construction LLC of Orange, which lists Franklin Bradley as member and Cathy Bradley as chairperson and owner.
With regard to vehicles, Macaluso said a contractor’s storage yard is allowed in the HDD zone by special permit. He said the beeping is required by federal and state law. Commenting on the alleged violation of the cease and desist order, he said, “Our client assured us he is not doing any operations.”
City Planner David B. Sulkis said the notice of violation from the city is what brought Mallico to the P&Z office for a permit. Sulkis said Mallico has said on multiple occasions that he is not doing any work.
“There is some work being done on the property next to Mallico, which may be the source of the dust complaints,” said Sulkis.