Wetlands panel approves third Amazon facility in Wallingford on former BMS site

Wetlands panel approves third Amazon facility in Wallingford on former BMS site

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WALLINGFORD — Plans for a third Amazon facility in town, located on the site of the demolished Bristol-Myers Squibb facility, won the approval of the wetlands commission Wednesday evening.

The Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission continued a remote public hearing at its meeting Wednesday on a plan for redevelopment of 5 Research Parkway.

After three hours of discussion, the commission voted unanimously to approve the application to build a 219,000-square-foot delivery station building and 715-space parking lot for Amazon.

From here, the plan goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Calare Properties owns the 180 acre site, which contains 33 acres of wetlands. Montante Construction applied to redevelopment the property.

Montante self-declared the project a significant impact application, which triggered the public hearing. The plan would create about 45.2 acres of impervious surface area, which refers to hard surfaces like pavement or roofs that water cannot penetrate.

The wetlands commission’s public hearing opened Nov. 10. At that meeting, the commission voted unanimously to hire a peer reviewer for the erosion control plan, as well as independent soil erosion and sedimentation control specialists.

Montante brought a team of engineers and soil scientists who had worked on the project to the remote meeting Wednesday.

Michael Klein, soil scientist at Davison Environmental, said that there’s no loss of wetlands nor significant impact on wetlands proposed.

“I base that conclusion,” Klein said, “on the fact that this is a redevelopment plan that avoids any direct impacts, and minimizes any indirect impacts on the wetlands and watercourses.”

The proposal includes a habitat restoration plan to allow for additional native habitat on the site and an undisturbed habitat for box turtles, he said.

“The indirect impacts have been avoided or minimized by an erosion sediment control plan that substantially exceeds the industry and regulatory standards,” Klein said. 

Town Environmental Planner Erin O’Hare said she would like to see a more nuanced invasive species management plan.

“This habitat restoration plan is, I would say, very sophisticated,” she said. “I was very impressed with it. However, the invasive species portion of their proposal was not nuanced. It took me awhile to understand what was going on.”

Many of the comments from the public concerned potential pollution from activity — including road treatment chemicals used in snow removal and pesticides from invasive species removal — on the site, which is in close proximity to the town’s drinking water supply.

The property lies in the Industrial Expansion (IX) zone and the Watershed Protection District.

A large portion of land in the IX zone feeds into the Muddy River, which is the primary source for Mackenzie Reservoir, the main source of the town’s drinking water. All land within the watershed for Mackenzie Reservoir is designated as a Watershed Protection District.

Amazon already operates a sortation center, another type of warehouse, nearby at 29 Research Parkway, while Amazon Logistics operates a warehouse and distribution center on South Cherry Street, providing "last mile" service to customers like the proposed delivery station. 

LTakores@record-journal.com203-317-2212Twitter: @LCTakores

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