Wal-Mart opponents charge new application full of holes

By Amy Johannes
Journal Inquirer
April 8, 2004

VERNON — Opponents of a Massachusetts developer’s plan to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter say the application is full of deficiencies and errors.

Marjorie Shansky, a New Haven- based lawyer, disputed findings by W/S Development LLC before the Inland Wetlands Commission Wednesday, saying the proposal is “incomplete and materially deficient.”

Her opening remarks came after the commission granted residents Glenn Montigny and Norma Marchesani intervenor status on the application, which allows residents to be a party to the proceedings and present their own expert testimony.

Shansky, who also represents the Rockville Concerned Citizens for Responsible Development, a neighborhood group, said the project would do more harm to the environment than what the developer shows.

“The proposed scale of development challenges every square inch of the parcel and will tax and diminish important wetland functions post-development,” Shansky said.

The only option to minimize the wetlands impact includes “downsizing every element of the project,” she said.

W/S Development is seeking per mission to conduct activity in the regulated area to build an 186,000- square-foot Wal-Mart with 859 parking spaces on 41.7 acres off Route 31, near exit 67 off Interstate 84, behind a Burger King restaurant.

The property, at the end of a 200- acre watershed for the Tankerhoosen River , was once used as a gravel mining and -stone crushing operation.

Engineers hired by the developer told the commission less water and cleaner water would run off the site than under current conditions. Impacts would only occur on “low quality” wetlands, they said.

Shansky and her team of experts argued the project is too big and would negatively impact wetlands on the site.

“The natural use of the site dictates something smaller is preferred,” Shansky said.

Marc Goodin, a Manchester- based engineer hired to represent Montigny and Marchesani, outlined numerous flaws and omissions in the plans, saying they couldn’t be used to make an informed decision.

If the project is approved, there will be a “greater disturbance” to the 75-foot buffer and wetlands area than what the developer estimates, Goodin said.

The public hearing is scheduled to continue at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Senior Center auditorium. But town officials aren’t sure whether the hearing will take place because the commission is waiting for a peer review of the proposed project by SEA Consultants of Rocky Hill.

Town Planner Thomas J. Joyce Jr. recommended the commission resume the public hearings when it receives, the report.

Local officials anticipated the peer review would be available before Wednesday’s meeting, but Joyce said the delay involves a problem with SEA’s contract with the town.