Farmington Inland/Wetlands: Morea Road plan does not need new application
By Paul Palmer
FARMINGTON -- The Farmington Conservation and Inland Wetlands Commission has voted to re-affirm its approval of a plan to build 25 homes in a cluster development along Morea Road. The review and vote came after residents who have opposed the Carrier Group Inc. project argued that the changes made to the plans were significant and it was no longer the same plan that Inlands/Wetlands had approved last July.
“Staff did not think the evolution of the plans required a new plan and it was consistent with what you had approved,” Town Planner Shannon Rutherford told the commissioners. She added that the Town Attorney felt there was no need for another public hearing, but that out of an abundance of caution, they should review the changes and make sure they still meet all conditions of the approved plans.
Many of the changes were made in an effort to mitigate concerns that had been raised regarding flooding from storm water and runoff into the adjoining wetlands in the Swamp Scott. Following a presentation of the changes, commissioners were asked to evaluate if they rose to the level of requiring a new application.
“My perspective is not seeing anything that would make me go in a different direction than I did the last time,” said Commissioner member Robert Hannon. Robert Isner said he felt confident that the plans were not changed to a degree that went beyond what was already approved. “Based on the plans, I don’t see anything substantive.”
Of the six Commissioners, only Ned Statchen voted no on the question of “Is the plan consistent with the plan and conditions previously approved.” Stratchen was the lone dissenting voice the first time the plan was approved. At Wednesday’s meeting, he again expressed what he said would happen to the wetlands. “I am opposed to this. I think the curtain drains will take water out of the wetlands,” Statchen said. “He also took exception to what he said appeared to be holding other projects to different standards when it came to what they could do along wetlands. “We are building right up to the wetlands boundary and that is not the way we do it. If we tell one builder to stay out of wetlands as much possible but for another we say build right up to the boundary.” He was referencing the fact that the homes in the proposed Carrier development are being allowed to have a yard boundary of just 25 feet from the wetlands.
Commissioner Neil Kelsey abstained from voting this time as he was not able to join the meeting from its start.
The Carrier application will now go back to the Plan and Zoning Commission for deliberations and a vote. That commission has closed its public hearing after several installments. While developers touted the plan, numerous residents have fought it intensely – aspects covered in previous Valley Press stories.
At a May 8 meeting, several Plan and Zoning Commissioners indicated that while they have personal concerns about the project, they felt it has met the regulations. Its next scheduled meeting is May 22.