Last hearing set for Guilford project

Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — The Inland Wetlands Commission has already spent four nights on hours-long public hearings over a plan to build a shopping center at the “rock pile” site.

But at the Oct. 3 hearing — which was supposed to be the final one — commissioners decided to add another meeting for public comment tonight. Officials said they still have questions for the developer, DDR Guilford, and wanted to give residents more time to voice their feelings about the project.

This is the second round of public hearings the Inland Wetlands Commission has held on the proposed 28-acre shopping complex at 1919 Boston Post Road, near the Exit 57 interchange on Interstate 95. In April, the commission rejected the proposal, but the developer modified and resubmitted its plans.

One of the main questions surrounding the current proposal is the inclusion of a controversial sewage treatment system, said Environmental Town Planner Leslie Kane.

In the past, the Zenon system has had failures in compliance at other locations in Connecticut, but the state Department of Environmental Protection has granted DDR Guilford a permit to use the Zenon system to treat sewage at the rock pile site.

“There were questions that were brought up (at previous public hearings) by the commission and the experts for the town and also the interveners, and they largely focused on the effluent from the package sewage treatment plant, otherwise known as a Zenon system, and storm water,” she said.

Kane said the developers have addressed several of the major concerns raised by the original proposal, but the plan for the Zenon system is largely the same. She added that it is common for developers to apply more than once before their plans are approved.

DDR Guilford and the Committee to Save the Guilford Shoreline, which has registered as an official intervener in opposition to the project, have presented experts testifying about the projected impact the shopping center would have on storm water, nearby Spinning Mill Brook and the local wetlands. The town also hired scientists to analyze the evidence.

“The interveners have serious questions and the applicants, of course, really want their project approved,” Kane said. “While they all may have accurate information, these outside experts that the town has hired can kind of look at things on a more even keel. They’re neither in favor or against.”

Kane said residents had a chance to ask some general questions at the Oct. 3 meeting, but have not had time yet to discuss their opposition to or support for the project.

Commission Chairman Doug Summerton, who voted to approve the project in April, said he thinks the applicant has addressed the “majority of the issues” that led the commission to reject the plan at the time.

“I think there are a few more that they still need to address before we can make a decision,” Summerton said. “This is the most complicated, the most scrutinized application ever submitted to the Inland Wetlands Commission and I’m giving both sides the opportunity to state their cases and to reply back to either sides’ comments or questions.”

Kane said tonight’s hearing, which will take place at 7:30 in the chorus room at Elisabeth C. Adams Middle School, is scheduled to be the last. After the commission closes the hearing, it has 35 days to make a decision, and Kane said she expects it will devote two to four special meetings to the topic.

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