A most unfortunate series of events has occurred on Independence Drive, where a waste disposal site from years ago has literally unearthed issues for the neighborhood. Rather than outline what has occurred there over the distant past, it is important to focus on a future that is an improvement for the neighborhood over what has been created in recent months.
The property was purchased with the knowledge that there were waste materials historically buried on the site, and the developer hoped that taking them out of the ground to a separate location would make the location marketable for some homebuilding parcels. With plans filed at the state department that administers these concerns, we know that more material quantity was found than anticipated. Unknown at this point with surety: were there more material types found or to be found on the disposal site? These are the risks a developer takes to yield a return on investment in property. Sometimes when you open a can of worms – you get worms.
I’m frustrated to read that the property owner is now asking a local agency to approve “re-bury” of materials to a new location on the parcel. When you dig a “new” hole, I look at that as burying material, not a “re-bury”, no matter if that new hole is in a wetlands regulated area 30ft away from where the material was taken out of the ground, or 30 miles away in a pre-approved State regulated disposal location. Quoting the developer’s legal representative: “the original idea to dig up the waste and cart it off-site now isn’t practical because more waste was found than anticipated, making the plan economically unfeasible”
What is important for all local agents to remember here, is that they serve the community of residents. This concept particularly applies to the Planning & Zoning Commission, Inland Wetlands Commission, and Board of Aldermen. While part of your role is to create and maintain an attractive City for economic development with clear regulations and a streamlined process for that to occur, it does not mean that the City of Shelton should compromise in order to be party to ensuring the economic viability of such investment and risk of capital. I certainly want individuals to succeed in their endeavor to make a buck, but the City should not risk the quality of life for residents, simply to ensure that a developer’s goals remain “economically feasible”.
I serve as Chairman of the Conservation Commission, which acts as the “environmental conscience” of the community. The Commission’s advisory comments and input are made on a variety of issues to the regulatory agencies of Shelton who administrate such concerns. I am also a Director with the Shelton Economic Development Corporation.