City issues violation notice to rubber lot owner

The city has issued a blight violation notice against the owner of two Independence Drive lots with large piles of rubber waste and dirt on them.

The use of Shelton' anti-blight ordinance is the newest approach to try to get the site cleaned up, which is in a residential neighborhood.

"It's a blighted condition and it needs to be corrected," said city Assistant Corporation Counsel Ramon S. Sous. "We're very concerned and want it cleaned up."

The city Planning and Zoning Commission previously issued a cease-and-desist order against property owner Roger Spinelli of Ronic Enterprises, preventing new work from taking place at the site.

"The blight ordinance has more teeth," said Sous, adding the city's goal is to get the waste removed from the properties.

Piles of sponge rubber waste and dirt, dug up on the two lots with a proper state permit, are visible from the road and nearby homes. There also is a large hole on the site, where the waste was excavated.

The two properties apparently were an unofficial dumping site for material from the former B.F. Goodrich sponge rubber factory in downtown Shelton.

Attorney Stephen Bellis, who represents Spinelli, said the city's blight violation notice has been received and the property owner is working on a solution. The developer's goal is re-bury the waste -- which isn't believed to be hazardous -- in new trenches in the rear of the two properties so the lots eventually can be developed as home sites.

Bellis said the debris will be tested, "and at least put in the hole where it came out of so it's not an eyesore." He said state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) permission will be needed to re-bury the waste as well as local inland wetlands approval.

Sous said re-burying the waste at the site is potentially possible with the proper permits and approvals.

Independence Drive is a residential neighborhood originally built by the Toll Brothers development company about two decades ago. It  is not too far from the city's high school and intermediate school. Toll Brothers never developed the two lots with the then-buried sponge rubber waste.

Neighbor meeting

Meanwhile, a meeting between the developer's representatives and neighbors at the Independence Drive site took place last week.

Bellis said two dozen or more neighbors attended. "We talked about their concerns," he said. "They are upset. They really want the pile tested to make sure there's no contamination."

He said an independent laboratory in Connecticut has been hired and the testing will be conducted soon. He said neighbors want to see the results before weighing in on the plan to re-bury the debris on the properties.

"I thought that was fair," Bellis said.

The developer is applying for permission from the Shelton Inland Wetlands Commission to re-bury the waste, Bellis said. The application could be heard in mid-July.

The DEEP's David McKeegan said the state issued a violation notice on May 15 against Ronic Enterprises for not having properly disposed of the waste at an off-site location.

The DEEP violation notice states the permit holder "created a surficial, unpermitted solid waste disposal area when they excavated the solid waste sponge rubber gasket material and stockpiled it on-site for greater than 45 days."

The notice also claims the debris "is outside the silt fence and impacting the adjacent street."

The developer had received permission to excavate 4,500 cubic yards of rubber waste from the site, but it appears more than that was found and therefore dug up.

McKeegan, an environmental analyst with the state agency, said Ronic Enterprises has 30 days to submit a remedy to its apparent violation, although more time may be granted to enact a remediation plan. "We expect them to respond to the notice of violation in a timely manner," he said.

He hasn't seen a proposal requesting to re-bury the material on-site yet. "It would be a first -- where we issued a [permit to excavate material] and someone wants to re-bury it," he said.

There's usually a reason why someone seeks a state permit to remove material from a property, McKeegan pointed out. "We'll have to see what they come up with," he said.