Neighbors speak out against Farmington development plan
By Paul Palmer
FARMINGTON – Opponents of a planned subdivision to be built along Morea Road in Farmington brought their concerns to the Planning and Zoning Commission at a public hearing. Residents raised concerns over increased traffic, preservation of wetlands, destruction of wildlife habitat, and flooding that they say will come from the proposed 25-unit cluster development by the Carrier Group. The Commission will continue the public hearing at its March 27 meeting. The meeting will be a hybrid of on-line and in person starting at 7pm.
The Commission meeting ran just over four hours in length with the final two hours devoted to the Morea Road project. SLR Consulting gave a lengthy presentation of changes that had already been made to the project. That was followed by questions from Commission members and with 45 minutes left in the session, it was opened up for residents to speak at the online only meeting.
SLR’s representatives began by explaining that by using a cluster development, more than 71 of the 87 acres in the two parcels will remain as dedicated, contiguous open space. “The cluster subdivision protects natural resources, critical habitats, and wetlands,” said Tom Daly of SLR, which is working with Carrier. He stated that there is no designated flood zone on any of the proposed lots and that none will face Morea Road. Daly also discussed the plans to handle storm water runoff stating that their studies showed no increase in runoff rates during a peak storm. Among the concerns expressed by the 8 people who managed to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting was potential flooding.
“We do have a basin in our backyard and on any given time you will see when it rains our backyard is a swamp,” said Eric Roy, who lives on Plank Hill Road.
“The runoff from these houses into the wetland becomes a risk,” said Dan Garbee of Tall Timbers Drive, which sits opposite the proposed subdivision.
Town Planner Shannon Rutherford went through some of the dozens of letters she and the Town of Farmington have received regarding the proposal. While she did not read each one, nearly all were opposed to the plan, with many calling for the Town to buy the 2 properties and keep them as protected, open space. Among the groups who sent correspondence was the Pequabuck Watershed Association, which cited “concerns about the development of the Scott Swamp property. The local basin known as Scott Swamp has its upland most point in the Morea Road property proposed for development. The headwaters of Scott Swamp Brook are on this parcel. There are many ecologically significant and notable features of this property and the brook itself.”
A letter from the Farmington River Watershed Association raised concerns with the impact of the proposed development on wetlands.
“The proposed level of development in this plan will increase impervious surfaces in the wetlands and upland review areas and increase flooding issues while also fragmenting and negatively impacting the biodiversity of the area. Developing this parcel will negate the environmental values of its wildlife habitat and increase water quality and quantity impacts.”
The Capitol Region Council of Governments noted in its letter that the parcels were part of a CRCOG Priority Conservation Area and an Environmentally Sensitive Area, but they supported the proposed construction. “However, upon discussion with the Town of Farmington, CRCOG acknowledges the benefits of the mitigation measures requested by Town staff, including working with the applicant to place approximately on- acre of the site under a conservation easement, amending site plans to elevate the development and increase storm water retention volume.”
The other major concern that was raised by neighbors was the impact on traffic into and out of the subdivision. SLR said it did a traffic study on Jan. 4, 2023 and found that any increase in traffic related to the project would be minimal.
“We estimated it will only generate 18 new trips in the morning peak period and 24 new trips in the evening peak hours,” said Emily Foster a traffic engineer with SLR. Several neighbors commented they thought those numbers were grossly underestimating any increase. “From 7-9 a.m. I counted 177 more cars going through the through the intersection,” said Ed Gelardi who said he did his own count of vehicles using Morea Road. Jane Carlozzi of Tall Timbers Drive, which sits opposite the proposed site, said the traffic numbers just don’t add up. “I heard the traffic numbers and it does not sound right that 25 houses is going to create those few trips,” Carlozzi said.
Several residents of neighboring Cope Farms Road raised concerns about the increase in traffic they said they would see if the project is approved. Some said they already deal with people speeding through the area as a cut through to avoid delays along Morea Road. “As a cut through, people are going 40 to 50 miles an hour on Cope Farms Road,” said Fred Baruffi who lives there. “Someone is going to get hurt there.”
Farmington currently has a moratorium on approving new subdivision while it looks to revise its affordable housing plans. However, any project – like the More Road plan, which already received approval from the Inland/Wetlands Commission – is grandfathered. But Planning and Zoning Commission chair Inez St. James wondered if the land could not have been used for other purposes.
“Did we look at affordable housing here?” she asked. Daly told the Commissioners that, “It’s always been a cluster subdivision we’ve been focused on.”
And Attorney Chris Hoheb, who is representing Carrier, said he would go back to his client regarding the question from St. James and have an answer at the next meeting.