WALLINGFORD — Neighbors of the former Bristol-Myers Squibb property have filed a lawsuit over the Inland Wetlands Commission’s approval of plans for two new warehouses on the site, saying the commission has given up some of its legal authority to the developer proposing the plan.
Attorney Patrick J. Heeran, of Southington, filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of three residents with land abutting the BMS site, 5 Research Parkway. The suit is filed against the local Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee and site owner Calare Properties.
The plaintiffs, Joseph and Deanna Ferry and Marcy DiPasquale, who all live on Barnes Road, are seeking to void the wetlands permit that was granted Nov. 7, saying it requires the IWWC to negotiate away its authority to Calare over the appointment of a monitor to oversee certain aspects of the project.
Calare bought the approximately 180-acre property earlier this year but has yet to find a tenant for the existing building. The company is planning to raze all structures on the property and build two warehouses that would more than double the developed space.
The warehouses would be the largest commercial development in town. The structures, including offices, parking and trucking bays, would total more than 1 million square feet and cover about 80 acres.
The wetlands permit was granted with five conditions of approval that include the appointment of a monitor to oversee stormwater management and erosion and a requirement that Calare submit an erosion and sediment control plan.
The plaintiff’s complaint states that stormwater would carry sediment into the Muddy River, which feeds Spring Lake and, ultimately, Mackenzie Reservoir, the town’s drinking water supply.
The monitor would be hired by the town and paid for by Calare, and the two sides are still negotiating the duties and scope of oversight for the position. The complaint states that the commission’s authority “cannot be limited in scope or delegated away to any other municipal agency or private third party.”
Heeran, the plaintiffs’ attorney, grew up on High Hill Road near the BMS site. His parents still live in the family house.
Janis M. Small, town corporation counsel, said Tuesday that removing the condition of requiring a monitor does not invalidate the rest of the permit.
“It’s a bit mind-boggling that it would be requested to amend a layer of protection,” she said.
The plan is currently before the Planning and Zoning Commission. A public hearing on the plan is expected to resume at its Dec. 10 meeting.