Commission considers Wonx residential plan

The Conservation Commission voted Feb. 6 to table a water drainage plan by Wonk Road Partnership LLC for its proposed 19-lot residential subdivision off Wonx Spring Road. The firm proposes to establish a stormwater swale — a tract of land used to manage water runoff — in the property’s upland review area, the zone that borders existing wetlands on the property.

Wonk Road Partnership recently abandoned its plans to establish a 9-lot industrial subdivision on the property after abutting landowners filed suit. Feb. 4, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to change the area’s zoning from industrial to residential, the firm’s first step in obtaining the green light for its revised plans.

Stephen Giudice, principal engineer at Harry E. Cole & Son in Plantsville, represented the applicant and told commission members that the new plan was “considerably less disruptive” than the original one.

“As you can see the residents aren’t here tonight,” he said, referring to the neighbors who opposed the industrial subdivision and attended multiple town meetings to raise their objections.

At the Feb. 4 planning and zoning meeting, resident Frank Punzo said the majority of neighboring homeowners support the firm’s residential application.

Giudice said the swale will not disturb the property’s wetlands, but only a 7,600-square-foot section of the upland review area. He presented three design options for the swale, all of which would channel water into the wetlands without disturbing the property’s vernal pools, seasonal pools of water that serve as a habitat for certain plants and animals.

Giudice also said that the residential subdivision will be confined to the northwest corner of the property, whereas the industrial subdivision would have occupied a significantly larger area. Under the terms of an agreement negotiated between neighbors, the partnership, and the town, residents will be able to take over the remaining land through a land trust or some other way, he said.

Commissioner Jim Sullivan asked whether the drainage plan requires state approval. Guidice replied that it doesn’t because the partnership is not proposing construction of any buildings within the upland review area. However, he said the plan will likely be submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers, which reviewed the initial industrial application, “just so they can see we’re going in a different direction.”

Commissioner Christopher Borowy voiced a position that would be roundly endorsed by his colleagues. “Given the potential environmental sensitivities,” Borowy said he wanted more time to review the proposal and assess its impact.

The commission voted unanimously to table the proposal until the March 6 meeting.

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