Wednesday, January 14, 2009

P&Z tonight: Composting kerfuffle, bylaws bickering, and the Maromas frontier

Tonight (7PM, Council Chambers), Planning and Zoning Commissioners will be continuing at least two discussions from their long and contentious December meeting.
  • The Public Hearing on the environmental chapters of the proposed Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) will be continued. Chapter 7 (Protecting Natural Resources and Preserving Rural Character) was extensively spoken to at the December meeting; tonight's public hearing should focus more on Chapter 10 (Maromas: Middletown's Last Frontier), and on the Statement on Protecting Water Quality.
  • Under Commission Affairs, the commissioners will discuss their bylaws and discuss a City Attorney memorandum. These discussions will likely center around how the chair of the Commission is determined when they are unable to elect a chair. Last month, Barbara Plum announced that she would remain chair for another year because nobody was elected this year. Mrs. Plum will not be attending P&Z meetings in January, February, and March. In her absence, meetings will be led by the vice-chair, Richard Pelletier.
Two new items of interest are also on the agenda:
  • Public Hearing on 38 multi-family dwelling units on Jackson Street, near Coleman's Mobile Home Trailer Park. This development will be on a small strip of land between Washington Street and the Coginchaug River, near Palmer Field.
  • A Public Hearing will be scheduled for a 22 lot re-subdivision, with a Special Exception for cluster development on Higby Road, adjacent to Tynan Park (across from Sisk Street). Applicant is Cynthia Jablonski, P&Z Commissioner.
Finally, a third discussion from last month may also be continued--there are more developments in the saga of the property at 55 Higby Road, owned by John Kolman. Mr. Kolman is under contract to compost leaves for the City. At the last meetings of both Planning and Zoning and Common Council, residents of Higby Road have taken to the microphone to complain that this leaf composting business has been expanded wildly beyond what was permitted for the land. As a result of this attention, Mr. Kolman was served with three Cease and Desist orders last week. One requires immediate cessation of his leaf composting operation until it is in compliance with the Dept. of Environmental Protection rules, another requires immediate cessation of the operation of a solid waste facility and the removal of all stumps and other debris on the property by mid-May, and the third requires removal of all Town of Berlin street sweepings by mid-April.
The Eye has obtained photos of some of the property, shown on the right.

The special exception permit that was granted by P&Z in 1993 required as one of its conditions that groundwater be monitored by the recycling coordinator. Kim O'Rourke, Middletown's recycling coordinator, told me that she remembers doing a little testing when the permit was first granted, but said, "I know we haven't done any testing [since then]." She inspects the property on a yearly basis in the spring, to see how the leaf composting is being done, and she felt that Mr. Kolman was doing a good job. She said that he was quite proud of his compost, and his role in reduce, reuse, recycle. However, O'Rourke admitted that she was not looking for potential problems such as solid waste storage or street sweepings, she was only there to look at Mr. Kolman's composting windrows and whether they were being turned in accordance with regulations.

Eleanor Kelsie, who first brought attention to problems at 55 Higby Road, has said that she will be attending tonight's meeting, but she was not sure whether she would be making another presentation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another fine example of the "good ole boys club" covering up the shit!