Armetta has extensive landholdings between Newfield Street and the Cromwell Meadows marsh area at the confluence of the Mattabessett and the Connecticut rivers. These holdings include a landfill which he operated until shut down by the State Department of Environmental Protection in 1995. At the base of this closed landfill, in 2007, he built an auto dealership.
The auto dealership was built within 100' of wetlands, and as such required a permit for construction. The Commission approved this permit at its August 1st, 2007 meeting. The wetlands in consideration were located on an adjacent property, also owned by Armetta.
On a summer Saturday in August of 2009, Armetta clear cut, bulldozed, and filled with riprap an area of land on his property adjacent to the auto dealership, to "clear the area and get a little more exposure of the dealership." A soil scientist hired by the city reported that there was a wetland in this area which was "totally impacted by the removal of 1-2 feet of the former wetland surface layers and the placement of a stone surface layer."
In September, the Commission told Armetta to file a retroactive application for the filling of these wetlands. The commissioners had anticipated that at their December meeting, they would hear a proposal from Armetta for mitigation of the destroyed wetlands, complete with the report of a soil scientist hired by Armetta. However, in December, this proposal was not ready, and Zoning Enforcement Officer Bruce Driska blamed the planning office for a miscommunication with Armetta. He assured the commissioners that the soil scientist's report would be available for them to see two weeks before last night's meeting.
The commissioners were unanimously peeved last night to learn that not only was the report not available, but Armetta did not show up for the meeting. Chairman of the Commission Joe Carta said, "They were supposed to come here with their soil scientist's report." Commissioner Joan Inglis said it was time for something to be done, "They're making this commission look like we don't know what we're doing!" Commissioner Trevor Davis concurred, "It's time to drop the hammer."
There was considerable discussion over what exactly the Commission could do when an applicant flouted the Commission when applying for a permit for work which has already been done. Commissioner Fred Terrasi called for the permit to be denied, but Carta and Davis urged the commissioners to use whatever means they could to encourage Armetta to mitigate this wetlands destruction by preserving or enhancing another wetlands on his property.
The Commission unanimously voted to ask Planning staff to issue a Cease and Desist Order to Armetta, requiring him to immediately remove all of the vehicles from the former wetlands. It will also require Armetta to appear before the commission within two weeks to present his case, this meeting will be held on January 20th.