IWWC on the frontline of apartment complex pushback

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At its July 12 meeting, the Inland Watercourses and Wetlands Commission received Vessel RE Holdings, LLC / Vessel Technologies’ initial application for a 48-unit apartment complex at 37 Hartford Ave. and scheduled a public hearing for Aug. 9.

Vessel proposes a four-story modular-construction building on the 2.5-acre site that contains 932 sq. ft. of wetland and lies above a wetland that extends to the West Branch of Salmon Brook. Town water and an on-site septic system would serve the development. The wetlands, septic system and stormwater management plans require an IWWC review and permit prior to applying for Planning and Zoning approval.

At the Aug. 9 meeting Attorney Andrea Gomes, Professional Engineer Seamus Moran and Soil Scientist James Sipperly representing Vessel, reviewed the application, noting that the septic system was under review by the Farmington Valley Health District. Public comment and reaction to the plan was negative. At Gomes’ request, the hearing adjourned to Sept. 13.

On Sept. 13, Attorney Timothy Hollister told the commission that the Farmington Valley Health District had informed Vessel and the Connecticut Department of Health that the septic system design was lacking a required reserve area. The DOH retracted its approval pending the revised plan approval. Seamus Moran presented the revised septic and outfall plan submitted to FVHD. He explained stormwater system management and why nitrogen and phosphorus analysis are not required. IWWC Agent Kate Bednaz said she would research case law to determine if that can be a requirement for approval. At the applicants’ request, the hearing was extended to Oct. 11. A letter dated Sept. 19 to the FVHD from the DOH approved the revised septic system plan.

On Oct. 11, Bednaz discussed runoff control, DEEP standards on nitrate and phosphate levels in runoff and possible leakage from a septic system. She said that over time even minimum levels of these pollutants can have a damaging effect on a wetland, so wetlands must be protected. During public comment, several attendees suggested that hooking to the existing sewer system be a requirement of approval.

Moran responded to the sewer hookup issue—the Dept. of Public Works told him that the sewer line does not extend to 37 Hartford Ave., making that option too expensive to consider.

Because of the disparity of opinion for potential pollution, Hollister asked for an extension of the hearing to Nov. 1 and requested that the town hire a third-party consultant to evaluate potential wetland impact at the base of the slope. He also requested that the commission suspend further public comment in person and by mail. The commission voted unanimously to hire a consultant and scheduled a special meeting for Nov. 1.

IWWC meeting minutes for these hearings contain additional information and can be accessed at granby-ct.gov and clicking on Agendas and Minutes. Videos of most board meetings may be viewed at gctv16.org