SOUTHINGTON — Town officials have given developers the green light to build a large commercial truck wash facility on South Main Street, near the Apple Valley Bowl and Quinnipiac River. But some who live near the proposed 16,000-square-foot facility oppose the project.
Neighbors believe the facility, which will be built on 4 acres partially in a wetlands zone, will harm the area by spilling harmful chemicals from wastewater onto roads and into the river. Neighbors are also concerned about increased traffic.
Mark Flors, a longtime South Main Street resident who lives directly across from the proposed site, is concerned about magnesium chloride running off trucks as they enter and leave the facility.
“That’s the most toxic chemical available for the ice treatment. That stuff does not just dissipate,” Flors said. “It sticks to whatever it’s on. I drive a truck for a living; it’s almost impossible to get off.”
Ronald Albrycht, a Canal Street resident, said in addition to the environmental hazards, he is concerned about trucks idling, traffic and public safety.
Safety concerns in particular divided members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, which approved the truck wash by a 4 to 3 vote. Commission members said any potential environmental issues were not within their purview to consider.
The developers of the truck wash said most wastewater would be contained within the building and recycled through large concrete holding tanks underground.
The area is zoned for business development.
The town’s Conservation Commission unanimously approved the application on Aug. 1, during the second of two meetings. The commission had planned to walk through the site in June, but canceled the meeting due to the lack of a quorum.
James P. Sullivan, who serves as vice chair of the Conservation Commission, said the group’s members had visited the site on separate occasions. Sullivan said proposals addressing the commission’s concerns about wastewater discharge and elevation were adequate.
The property is owned by ZP Group LLC, of West Hartford. Nutmeg Cos. of Norwich is proposing the truck wash.
Separate past proposals to develop the property into office and retail space and as a dog daycare facility had received town approval, but neither of those projects were developed.
Developers still need to obtain state permits for the truck wash.
One of those permits is a wastewater discharge permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection specific to vehicle maintenance wastewater. According to DEEP, wastewater must discharge through sewer pipes to a treatment facility or to a holding tank. Developers must ensure the maximum daily flow of wastewater does not exceed 15,000 gallons per day.
Developers are also seeking an encroachment permit from the state Department of Transportation.
Flors was critical of the local commissions and the approval process so far.
“Their job is to work for the people of this town, not big business. They pushed this whole thing through,” Flors said.