WALLINGFORD — About 25 people spoke at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last week, raising concerns about a plan to level the former Bristol-Myers Squibb campus and replace it with two warehouses.
The concerns include bedrock blasting, noise, traffic safety and well contamination.
Calare Properties, owner of the former Bristol-Myers Squibb campus at 5 Research Parkway, applied for a special permit to build two warehouses and offices on the property. There are no specific tenants slated to move into the property so far.
The PZC held a public hearing on Wednesday. The commission continued the public hearing to its next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 10.
If Calare is unable to find a tenant for the existing building by the end of the year, the company wants to raze all structures on the property and build two warehouses, which would more than double the developed space.
The property is approximately 180 acres, and under the warehouse plan, about 80 acres would be developed. Calare is proposing two warehouse/office buildings totaling 1.1 million square feet. The total square footage of the existing BMS buildings is 915,000.
Calare received a wetlands permit for the project on Nov. 7 from the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, but the plan would require additional local and state approvals.
Neighboring residents’ main concerns are traffic and noise that may be generated from both the construction and the operation of the warehouses, as well as the proposed bedrock blasting.
The entire property is in the Wallingford Watershed Protection District and is 3.5 miles north of Mackenzie Reservoir, which provides the town's drinking water.
Because the developers would need to level the hillside through a cut-and-fill process to build the warehouses on flat land, both blasting and ripping have been proposed for leveling the bedrock.
Residents with property that abuts the site have raised concerns at past Inland Wetlands and PZC meetings about whether blasting would contaminate their homes' water wells.
Calare attorney Dennis Ceneviva and BL Cos. team project engineer Michelle Carlson presented the site plan application to the PZC on Oct. 10, and were present last week.
Ceneviva said that traffic was a key issue the commission members and public raised during the Oct. 10 meeting.
To address the anticipated traffic impact, the town hired CDM Smith, an engineering and construction firm, to perform a peer review on a traffic study submitted by Calare.
Sharat Kalluri, CDM Smith senior traffic engineer, said at Wednesday’s meeting that his team of consultants looked at the proposed warehouse site plan and how much parking was on site.
PZC members raised concerns about the flow of traffic onto Research Parkway, Route 68 and Carpenter Lane during rush hour.
Kalluri said his team didn’t see a lot of issues.
“When the site really gets fully developed,” he said, “whoever the tenant happens to be will probably see some distribution of truck traffic during the course of the day, and it may not be an overlap with the peak traffic that’s on Research Parkway.”
If trucks or other vehicles exit onto Carpenter Lane, there’s a potential for that traffic to pass through High Hill Road, a residential area.
Kalluri said part of the plan is to divert traffic onto Research Parkway and prohibit site-generated traffic on nearby residential streets.
Ceneviva said that although ripping is the proposed leveling method for most of the site, some areas would require some minimal blasting.
Brian Opp, Terracon Consultants geotechnical engineer, said the site was “peppered” with 60 to 70 soil borings.
“We feel that the majority of the excavation is actually going to be by mechanical means,” Opp said. “The contractors should be able to remove the rock with either the bucket of the excavator or a ram attachment,” called ripping.
Blasting “would be a very small percentage,” Opp said, and there are techniques to reduce the impact, such as using a chemical agent to split the rock.
Houses within the 1,500-foot impact zone would have a pre-blast survey and domestic well water quality testing done, he added.