Warehouse renovation plan in Wallingford leads to dispute over drainage, soil quality

Warehouse renovation plan in Wallingford leads to dispute over drainage, soil quality

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WALLINGFORD — An old warehouse on South Cherry Street is slated to be renovated, but there’s some disagreement about soil quality and how it may impact drainage.

A new distribution facility is proposed for 425 S. Cherry St. A prospective tenant has not been named.

Property owner Michael R. Mauro purchased the South Cherry Street property in 2005 for $2 million, according to town records.

The 7.6-acre parcel has a total appraised value of $2.37 million. There’s a one-story 83,757-square-foot warehouse that was built in 1963 on the site.

The site is accessible from South Cherry Street, Ball Street and Pent Road. The town landfill, compost center and animal control facility are located across the street on Pent Road.

The area around the existing structure is partially paved. A large unpaved area is leased by the Public Works Department as an outdoor storage yard.

Public Works Director Rob Baltramaitis said Monday that under the original lease agreement from 2003, Public Works filled a previously excavated 30-foot deep pit, for which it had a permit for a filling operation from Planning and Zoning.

When Mauro purchased the property in 2005, the lease agreement was renewed, Baltramaitis said.

Mauro, of Cheshire, owns BMW and Mercedes-Benz car dealerships and Town and Country Autobody in North Haven. He did not return calls for comment.

‘Crappy soil?’

Jeffrey Dewey, senior engineer at BL Cos., applied for a wetlands permit for the proposed warehouse and distribution facility project in November on behalf of Mauro.

Dewey said last week during a presentation to the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission that Public Works excavated the site for sand to use for road treatment and “put a bunch of crappy soil back.”

“They took good sand and got rid of junk,” Dewey said to the commission.

Baltramaitis said that he doesn’t believe the department ever mined the site for sand.

The town doesn’t apply sand to roads during inclement weather anymore, instead using a treated salt substance. The change occurred during the 1990s, according to a past Record-Journal story.

Baltramaitis also disputed the notion of “crappy soil,” saying that Public Works filled the pit with “clean earthen material” dug up during roadway construction projects.

“I’d be concerned with an engineer using that word,” he said. “It doesn’t fall into acceptable engineering terms.”

Dewey did not return calls for comment.

Baltramaitis said the agreement to fill the pit served a dual purpose.

“The property owner wanted the site brought back up to grade to be marketable again,” he said. “It also provided a benefit to the town and gave a means to dispose of clean fill very economically.”

The town would let the lease expire and Public Works would relocate any stockpiled materials if the project is approved, according to the environmental planner’s report.

Drainage issues

There are no wetlands on or near the site.

The proposed site activity includes renovation of the existing warehouse, 160 employee parking spaces and 111 van spaces, driveways, landscaping and stormwater management systems, according to a report by BL Cos.

The current total impervious area is about 4.89 acres, or 64 percent of the site. Post-development, that would increase to 5.97 acres, or 78 percent of the site, the report states.

The proposed redevelopment would create 46,800 square feet of impervious surface. Dewey said they’re not changing much with drainage into the Pent Road system, but changing roof runoff drainage into an infiltration system, and new pavement runoff into another infiltration system.

Adding landscaping around current pavement would reduce the water volume into system, he said.

Dewey said that test holes, dug with a backhoe, went down 8-9 feet and did not hit water. In another place, they went deeper, to 11 feet, and got to the original sand.

The first 1-2 feet poses the biggest issue, he said.

“The material is so compacted,” Dewey said, “from years of Public Works coming in there, piling material, coming back in and taking material out, piling it in, and doing that over and over so the whole top foot and a half (to) two feet is very compacted.”

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