SHELTON — A decision on the Towne Center at Shelter Ridge is on the horizon. The Inland Wetlands Commission finally closed the public hearing on the controversial project Feb. 27.

The board did not vote on the application. The board’s next meeting is March 12.

The public hearing had been open for more than a year, a point of contention by project opponent Save Our Shelton. Steve Trinkaus, a civil engineer advising the grassroots group, told the commission during its Feb. 6 public hearing that, under state statute, the hearing should have closed in May 2018.

While the commission granted the developers’ requests for extensions, the hearing’s statutory closure date is months past, said Trinkaus, adding that a final ruling should have been made by July 2018.

City corporation counsel Fran Teodosio disagreed, saying at the Feb. 27 meeting that precedent backs his opinion that the commission, with permission of the applicant, can keep the public hearing open as long as necessary.

Greg Tetro of Save Our Shelton disagreed with Teodosio’s opinion. That aside, Tetro stated the application — which calls for a development with 375 apartments and 300,000 square feet of retail space on 121 acres at the intersection of Mill Street and Bridgeport Avenue — has “failed under many factors” in studies done by Trinkaus, the city engineer and LandTech, a firm hired by the city to perform an independent “peer review” of submitted evidence.

Tetro said all engineers involved - including those representing Towne Center at Shelter Ridge - are qualified, but three are opposed, one in favor.

Attorney Dominick Thomas, representing the developers, asked the commission to approve the proposal since there is “no evidence that the development would have any adverse impact to the wetlands.”

Thomas said the plans are designed to prevent water runoff after construction as well as protection of the migratory species in and around the vernal pool on site. Thomas said the vernal pool sits on the edge of the development inside more than 25 acres of open space.

The Planned Development District for the site was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2017, but that decision was appealed. That appeal has since been denied.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com