P&Z shifts property lines due to contamination

The Planning & Zoning Commission has approved a request to make minor adjustments to the borders of three commercial lots so soil contamination is limited to just one of the properties.

The contamination is primarily on a 1.8-acre parcel that includes the Wendy’s fast-food restaurant, Gulf gas station and Scooter’s Deli Mart at 484 Bridgeport Ave.

But some contamination on the southern edge has “spilled over” to an abutting property owned by the same entity, according to Caleb Scheetz, senior project manager with Fuss & O’Neill, an engineering and environmental firm.

The P&Z voted unanimously Dec. 11 to move the lot lines by about nine feet, based on the request of the current owners of all three properties, Crown Point Center LLC. The change makes the 484 Bridgeport Avenue lot larger by 0.03 acres.

The other parcels being slightly adjusted are 494 and 504 Bridgeport Avenue. All are commercial properties that make up the Crown Point Center, a strip shopping complex that includes various businesses. The center also includes 514 Bridgeport Avenue.

Scheetz told the P&Z that 484 Bridgeport Avenue previously was a machine shop, where the below-ground contamination originated. He described it as “shallow soil contamination” that includes a low concentration of PCPs.

The contamination is from decades ago and was moved around the site when it was developed by the previous owner, he said. “Some remediation” was done during the center’s development, he said, but it “was not completed.”

Scheetz said “the former property owner is responsible” for the remaining contamination, based on laws, and Fuss & O’Neill has been hired by the current property owner to make sure that happens.

Tracy Lewis, a land surveyor for the current owner, said state environmental officials have advised it would be best to have all the contamination on one property.

Attorney Dominick Thomas, who represented the previous owner when the site was developed, said he believes contamination was placed under the convenience store as part of the government-approved remediation process.

Scheetz then told Thomas, “You’re not privy to all the information.”

The site was previously owned and developed into the shopping center by an entity connected to James Botti, who later spent time in federal prison for his role in a zoning-related corruption scandal in Shelton.

Joe Rocco, one of the center’s current owners, said Botti hadn’t completed the environmental cleanup. Botti “shirked his responsibility and did not close this out,” Rocco said.

After the applicant and his representatives were asked questions about the environmental status of the properties, P&Z member Elaine Matto said the request appeared to simply involve an administrative matter to alter property borders.

Rocco agreed. “We weren’t bringing you an environmental issue,” he said. “We were bringing you a zoning issue.”

Scheetz said ground monitoring devices are being used on the land and “institutional controls” such as capping and a ban on digging may be implemented in the future. The contamination is mostly under asphalt or buildings due to the site’s development.

Crown Point Center was approved by the P&Z as two separate Planned Development Districts in 2002 and 2004.