The last municipality supporting a plan to expand quarrying on state watershed land has turned against Tilcon’s proposed deal to trade open space for permission to extract rock.
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart sent a letter to the state Water Planning Council and other officials Wednesday indicating that she would “withdraw the proposal from further consideration.”
“The city of New Britain has been the one that has been pushing the project more or less,” said House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin. “I really believe this is a dead issue and won’t be going forward.”
The plan requires approval of the General Assembly, but Aresimowicz called it a “dead issue” after losing its major backer. Aresimowicz’s district includes part of Southington.
Under the proposal, Tilcon would give a combined 275 acres of company-owned land as open space to New Britain, Southington and Plainville in exchange for permission to quarry on land in the Shuttle Meadow Reservoir watershed. The land Tilcon wants to quarry is in Plainville but owned by New Britain.
Southington’s former town manager Garry Brumback wrote a letter in support of the project but the Town Council later had him rescind it after hearing from environmental groups.
Plainville Town Manager Robert E. Lee said he saw a lot of benefits for the town in the proposal, but support wasn’t unanimous. The town’s conservation commission opposed the expanded quarrying.
In her letter, Stewart said a study on the impact of the plan raised additional questions about water supply.
“Given the increased cost to the City of that additional due diligence, the time it would require and the depth of the opposition to the proposal as the result of these unanswered questions, I have concluded that the most prudent course of action at this time would be withdrawal of the proposal for further consideration,” she wrote.
Even before he was elected to the state House in 2016, Rep. William Petit Jr., R-Plainville, said he was approached by groups urging him to oppose the quarrying plan. More groups, including governmental agencies, have come out against it since then.
“I could not support it at this time and am hard pressed to support it at any time,” Petit said. He added opposition by conservation groups has been “huge, fairly organized” from the beginning.