Thursday, January 7, 2010

Phil Armetta Given Two Weeks to Present Wetlands Plan

The Inland Wetland Commission took the first step towards holding Phil Armetta accountable for the apparent filling of wetlands on his property on Newfield Street. They voted unanimously to issue a cease and desist order to Armetta, requiring him to appear before the Commission in two weeks to respond.

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.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's just build on everything. Newfield St should still be swamp. We are a silly shortsighted species that thinks we need to ruin everything. Did we really need another car dealership? We used virgin farmland for a Nissan dealership. What a f-ckin crime. We cant eat subdivisions, condos or cars. Unchecked capitalism will destroy all that sustains us.

Anonymous said...

I love it. How many EMPTY car dealerships are on Newfield St. right now? Armetta builds a new one and destroys wetlands. Good job.

Anonymous said...

It is actually called Urban Sprawl. Unplanned for growth which uses current zoning regulation against itself. Without proper planning and foresight, most Cities and Towns face these issues. The consumer drives these pop up construction projects because they do not want to travel long distances for products or service. As far as farmlands go, the farmer quickly realized his land was worth much more as land, than for growing produce and foodstuffs. I for one would love to see the return of a Farmer's Market. Raleigh North Carolina has a magnificent one, were you can do your shopping for fruits and vegestables for half the price, and better quality!

Anonymous said...

the fallacy of building new so as not to travel far gets us to the end of result of ridiculously huge and crowded asphalt parking lots and congested roads with traffic lights every quarter mile. i'll take "the old downtown" over it any day. the perception that you have to walk a long way just because you parked 2 blocks down a side street is so whacked. its quicker and easier every time. seem off topic? not really... Phil Armetta and his ridiculous antics are just a symptom of the whole urban sprawl and consumerism related problems of our society. we need to start showing our concern for the right things.

Anonymous said...

i avoid rts. 3 and 66 like the plague. true eyesores with impatient drivers. the more ugly development with disregard for character popping up on both roads the stronger my resolve to stay away.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad to see at least 3 people understand the bigger picture.

Jane said...

A farmers' market in Middletown with more than two farmers, you mean? I have to wonder why we are the only town for miles around that doesn't have a thriving farmers' market. And I wonder why City Hall has done less than nothing to improve this situation. There's plenty of support from environmental groups -- what is needed to make this happen?

Anonymous said...

maybe another frigging dunkin donuts will help

Anonymous said...

Don't forget we need to develop Maromas too! More golf is sure to help. I might have to give up biking and hiking to try golf. Craptastic.

Kent said...

We must hold the Inland Wetland Commission accountable for allowing the original approval in August 2007. I wonder if that approval was the result of a "retroactive application", which is a farce. "They're making this commission look like we don't know what we're doing!" Well, do you?

Anonymous said...

P and Z is just a useless band aid. We need radical societal surgery to stop this disease. When was the last time you saw a parking lot come up to build a farm? There are enough brown sites in our cities to develop.
No more farmland should ever be destroyed. If I were in charge short sighted development would land you in jail. We need a benevolent plan to save our local communities.