Tense moments during Wallingford wetlands hearing on car wash

WALLINGFORD — An application for a car wash on property that straddles the Meriden/Wallingford town line and is predominantly to be built in Meriden prompted some tense moments this week when the developer went before the Inland Wetlands Commission hoping for an approval.

Instead, the commission voted to continue the application until next month after discrepancies arose over conditions that the developer would have to comply with to meet the approval.

Hudson Street 21 LLC is proposing a car wash at 1299 South Broad St. in Wallingford and 577 South Broad St. in Meriden, the site of Il Monticello restaurant and banquet facility. The actual building is proposed for the Meriden side of the property, while plans call for the removal of the parking lot on the Wallingford side and replacing it with landscaping.

By the time the application came before the hearing on Wednesday, fatigue was evident after the commission heard almost three hours of comments during the public hearing on Choate Rosemary Hall’s application for a new admission building and underground parking garage. Chairman James Vitali commented several times that he wanted to move the proceedings along because of the length of the meeting, mentioning he had to go to work in the morning.

Environmental Planner Erin O’Hare said she met with BL Companies Engineer Sarah Costagliola at 6 p.m. Wednesday, an hour before the meeting began, to iron out details of the application, including conditions of approval. She wasn’t able to type them out and copy them for the commission because of the time crunch, O’Hare said.

“You have conditions of approval, you wrote them down, you should have copied them and handed them out,” Vitali said. “What do we have to do, write them down again?”

“I can read them slowly,” O’Hare replied, which she then did so they are in the record.

It was those conditions, including the requirement that a sign be installed on the Wallingford side, instructing that portion of property should not be mowed and debris next to the property be removed, that raised the ire of Nicholas Plumber, the owner of Hudson Street 21 LLC, which has a contract with Colella LLC, the owner of Il Monticello, to purchase the property.

“I don’t think I have to touch anything that is not on the property that I am buying. I think that doesn’t make any sense,” Plumber said.

“I don’t control the wetlands and they are not part of the property that I am buying. I am improving the Wallingford side at no benefit to me at cost and I feel like I am being asked to do above and beyond on something that I am making better than what it is right now,” he said. “It’s a parking lot and I am filling that and putting grass and putting trees and now you’re telling me to put a sign and I think it just keeps going on and on. All it is doing is costing me money that I don’t have to improve that side.”

“You don’t have to improve that side?” Vitali asked.

“My development has nothing to do with the Wallingford side,” Plumber answered.

“Of course it does,” Vitali responded.

“It does not, sir,” Plumber said.

“You’re digging out fill, you’re putting in grass,” Vitali said.

“I’m putting in fill because that’s what I want to do to make it better,” Plumber said. “It’s not needed for my development on the Meriden side, is what i’m saying.”

“There is a rule — you talk, I listen, I talk, you listen,” Vitali replied. “All your stormwater is coming down to Wallingford 100%. We are trying to protect Wallingford. We are asking you to assist us in protecting Wallingford. You say you’re not doing anything, you are doing something, you’re running your stormwater in, putting fill in the area and topsoil and that’s great, but the other things should have been done two weeks ago so we don’t have this argument tonight. All these issues should have been resolved, not at 6 tonight. That’s a problem.”

Ultimately, after concerns about whether a bond should be required and water runoff onto South Broad Street arose, the commission decided to continue the application until the March 1 meeting, which takes place at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Council Chambers.



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