WALLINGFORD — Some residents near the former Bristol-Myers Squibb campus have been speaking out against a plan to build the largest commercial buildings in town on the property.
Representatives of Calare Properties, owner of the sprawling complex at 5 Research Parkway, presented a plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission last month.
The Massachusetts-based developer wants to demolish the BMS buildings and replace them with two warehouses that would total more than 1 million square feet and cover about 80 acres of the 180-acre property.
Calare obtained a wetlands permit from the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission last month, after it reduced the project’s footprint in wetland and upland areas of the property.
Although the Town Council is not the decision-making body on the proposal, about 50 people from the neighborhoods around the former BMS complex attended the council meeting on Nov. 27, with eight airing their concerns to councilors.
Among the concerns are increased traffic and noise; potential pollution of Mackenzie Reservoir, the town’s drinking water source; compromised home water wells from bedrock blasting; and a lack of information on warehouse tenants.
“It’s devastating for us,” said neighborhood resident Robert DeMaio, a 20-year resident of Marie Lane. “I want a viable town financially but that financial viability has to be balanced with the welfare and safety of the community.”
He said the “sheer size” of the proposed development would be “a significant change of use for the property.”
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.
When Ed Bradley, who has lived on Hampton Trail since 1974, heard about the proposal, he said his thought, “is this going to be déjà vu all over again?”
“Reading up on the proposal, I know what happened in the past,” he said about the original development of the BMS property in the 1980s, “and it caused a lot of damage.”
Bradley’s property borders the Muddy River.
“Ever since they opened up that land up there,” he said, “it’s been nothing but constant flooding every time we get a couple inches of rain.”
He said his home, like many in the neighborhood, uses a well and can’t be connected to municipal water if the well becomes compromised or collapses.
Attorney Patrick Heeran grew up on High Hill Road. His parents still live in the family house.
“A lot of what’s proposed is based on model data, and there’s a lot of assumptions,” said Heeran, who now lives in Southington. “A lot of people raised questions in front of Wetlands and Zoning that were not answered.”
He wants the PZC to reject the proposal because there are too many unknowns in the plan. He also feels concerns from Erin O’Hare, town environmental planner, were ignored by the wetlands commission.
“(O’Hare) brought up all sorts of concerns,” he said, “and a lot of her recommendations were taken out of the special conditions” of approval.
A public hearing on the plan is expected to resume at the PZC’s Dec. 10 meeting.
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