WALLINGFORD — Many residents have cited increased truck traffic and potential contamination of drinking water in their opposition to the proposed redevelopment of the Bristol-Myers Squibb site on Research Parkway.
Noise nuisance is another reason neighbors oppose the plan, and it’s gaining traction as the date of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision comes closer.
Calare Properties, owner of the former Bristol-Myers Squibb campus at 5 Research Parkway, applied for a special permit in July 2018 to build two warehouses and offices on the property.
While warehouses and offices are an allowed use on the property, the size of the project and the anticipated traffic triggered a special permit review, per town zoning regulations.
Calare received a wetlands permit for the project in November from the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, after several meetings resulted in Calare scaling down the project.
The PZC opened its public hearing on the special application in November and closed the hearing at its December meeting.
Commission members are slated to make a decision on whether to approve the special permit on Monday.
In Town Planner Kacie Hand’s suggested conditions of approval, compliance with the local noise ordinance would be required. There aren’t any further rules about noise in the zoning regulations, she said.
Calare’s consulting engineering firm BL Cos. hired Cavanaugh Tocci, acoustical consultants in Sudbury, Massachusetts, to conduct an environmental sound evaluation-high level study, which was presented at the December PZC meeting by Michelle Carlson, BL Cos. project engineer.
Carlson said the study analyzed sound potentially produced by the redevelopment by looking at the site plans and expected traffic. They also ran a computer model.
“They took into account the town’s regulations, the state regulations,” she said. Reading from the study, she said the consultants concluded that “sound produced by equipment and activities… would comply with all applicable regulations.”
Jen Frechette, of 29 Valley View Drive, lives in the neighborhood near BMS. She said Friday that she’s concerned about exceptions to the noise ordinance.
“Warning devices such as back-up alarms are (allowed),” she said. “Since it's expected this facility will operate 24/7, neighbors will be subjected to a constant cacophony of (beeping) and there are no sound barriers. Even if there were, the neighborhood is at a higher elevation. The noise will come up into the neighborhood and bounce off of the cliff.”
She also mentioned other noise on the site.
“When the king pin connects a truck to the trailer,” she said, “there's an incredibly loud noise of metal clanging against metal.”
Jim Seichter, Planning and Zoning Commission chairman, declined to comment Friday on how noise concerns may affect the commission’s decision.
He added that since the public hearing has been closed, “it’s not appropriate for any commission member to make comments outside of the public meeting” on the application.
Tom Laffin, Town Council vice chairman, talked about his concerns about noise generated by the project on the local news show “Citizen Mike,” which aired Thursday on WPAA-TV.
“My first thought, when the plan was coming out, was noise,” Laffin said. “I’m really concerned about the noise. I see problems.”
Enforcement of the local noise ordinance has been problematic in the past.
He brought up the longstanding issue between Thurston Foods and nearby residents over how much noise the company's trucks produce at night.
The Town Council spent time studying the issue and potential changes to the noise ordinance, but never found a solution.
“We’re at an earlier stage of the same problem,” he said, adding that he would be “OK if it was rejected, because I think something else eventually will come along.”
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢