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Rilling: ‘Very troubling’ dirt pile was not authorized

A view of the former Loehman’s Plaza in April, from the roof of one of Belpointe Capital’s neighboring buildings. The trailers have been removed and the dirt pile is smaller, making its edge further from West Avenue, Paxton Kinol said last week. Belpointe plans to build Pinnacle at Waypointe on the site, which is bordered by West Avenue, Butler Street, Orchard Street and Quincy Street. (File photo)

Updated, 11:59 p.m.: Photos added; 9:05 a.m.: Copy edits

The former Loehman’s Plaza on May 26. (John Flynn)

NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Zoning Commission is “not really pleased with” the way the former Loehman’s Plaza looks from West Avenue, Commission Chairman Nate Sumpter said last week.

Sumpter and Vice Chairman Lou Schulman raked Belpointe Managing Director Paxton Kinol and others over the coals Wednesday, demanding to know why dirt from The SoNo Collection was being stored on the site, where Belpointe is planning to build Pinnacle at Waypointe. Kinol said he didn’t want to throw anyone under the bus, but “every major group” in City government had been aware of the plan to put the mall’s dirt on West Avenue.

Belpointe was “being good neighbors,” allowing Brookfield’s contractor, VCC/KBE, to store the mall site’s fill on a nearby location rather than truck it all over Norwalk, and the Department of Public Works said no permit was necessary, Kinol said.

“This is all very troubling to me. No authorization came from me or my office,” Mayor Harry Rilling wrote to NancyOnNorwalk on Monday after being asked if the City authorized AMEC Carting and Kinol to put dirt on the Pinnacle site, without the knowledge of Planning and Zoning.

“I was never in a discussion with anyone prior to the piles of dirt appearing on the property,” Rilling wrote. “Also, if you will recall, when it was brought to my attention the piles were there in violation, I emphatically stated the property would be issued a notice of violation.  If that has not occurred, I will find out why and I will also find out who, if anyone, authorized it to begin with.”

Belpointe was cited for a Zoning violation on May 11, for allegedly operating a contractor’s yard within a Central Business District. Deputy Zoning Inspector John Hayducky gave the company 15 days to correct the violation and said there would be a $150 a day fine if the violations were not corrected.

Hayducky on June 13 said P&Z is watching the property and everything seemed to be in compliance. As long as the property remains in compliance, there would be no fines, he said.

“If you want to take a hard bottom line, the site is not zoned as a contractor’s storage yard,” Planning and Zoning Director Steven Kleppin said at last week’s Zoning Commission meeting. “I understand that there is a demolition permit associated with the building and the site but then the material in question is not related to this site, so he’s in a violation, probably technically. Just from my perspective, once we were aware that there was material from the mall, I don’t want to say looking the other way but at the same time we were realistic, saying, ‘OK, look at the site. There is nowhere to put it, this is probably the best option.’”

“The soils under the blue tarps near West Avenue are materials excavated from the Mall site.  While the Pinnacle site has a demolition permit for their site, the storage of any materials from another site was not permitted,” Kleppin explained in a Monday email to NancyOnNorwalk.

 

Zoning Commission meeting

Belpointe was at Zoning to issue a status report on the Pinnacle project as part of the process to get an extension of its approval to build Pinnacle.

“No good deed goes unpunished,” Kinol said at the outset of the conversation, after Sumpter complained about the view from West Avenue.

“We are not trying to punish you. What we are trying to do is to move the city forward,” Sumpter replied. “The only way we are going to do that is by eliminating piles (that people see when they’re heading for other areas) … We would like to see Pinnacle.”

AMEC needed to remove 15,000 yards of material off the mall site, as part of the process of building foundations and retaining walls that are 13- to 14-feet tall.  AMEC knew that the dirt would have to come back, AMEC Senior Project Contractor for the SoNo Collection Jason Schuler said to the Commission.

It could go down West Avenue or Crescent Street, “the back door,” depending on where it was going, Schuler said.  He explained that all the dirt is weighed at AMEC’s transfer station and that taking it to Pinnacle minimized truck traffic going through neighborhoods.

There’s 11,000 yards of dirt left, 733 truck loads that still have to come back to the mall site, and if it needed to be moved off of the Pinnacle site that would mean 1,466 truck trips, he said.

“I think that’s absolutely irrelevant,” Schulman replied. “That fill was brought here in effect illegally because there was no permit… Trying to convince us that you are saving truck traffic by breaking the law, really is not an acceptable argument.”

“When the Pinnacle was approved, it wasn’t approved for having those piles brought in,” Sumpter said.

The dirt could have gone to Meadow Street or O&G, on the other side of the Norwalk River, and moving it now would add six weeks of truck traffic to the process, Schuler replied.

“I don’t see how we can let this continue without penalty. I don’t understand why staff has not yet cited whoever is responsible for this,” Schulman said.

AMEC and VCC discussed it with the City, and in January, Belpointe applied for a permit to store the mall’s dirt on its Pinnacle property but was told a permit wasn’t needed, Kinol said.

Everyone agreed that moving the fill to the West Avenue/Orchard Street/Butler Street Pinnacle site because it’s in the best interest of the city, and, “We absolutely talked to the city constantly about this,” Kinol said. “We can give you the emails to prove it.”

Attorney William Hennessey explained that an application for a fill and excavation permit was filed Jan. 19 with DPW, showing that the dirt was from The SoNo Collection, and Kinol said the City waived the permit so as not to charge Belpointe a fee for being a good citizen.

The dirt will be gone by the end of June, Kinol said; Belpointe saved Brookfield $600,000 by storing the dirt, according to Hennessey.

Commissioners Galen Wells and Kelly Straniti said they did not agree that the piles of dirt are a major issue.

“We have to build the mall, and do something with the fill,” Wells said. “I don’t get it. It seems to me, in my opinion, that this is what happens when you are doing a construction project.”

“I want to set an example that Norwalk is a nice place to do business,” Straniti said. “That you’re not caught in the red tape and bureaucracy and everything, trying to figure out everything that is going on. … we all know the mall is going to be a wonderful project, I don’t see the sense in going back and forth.”

Wells is a Democrat and Straniti is a Republican and former Mayoral candidate.

The SoNo Collection on June 16. (John Flynn)

Belpointe is being paid $6,000 a month to store the dirt, Kinol said, in response to a question from Schulman. He added that Belpointe hasn’t been paid in six months but that GGP, the mall builder recently bought by Brookfield, had been very good to Belpointe when it was building Waypointe, the Berkeley and Quincy Lofts, allowing lumber and 18-wheel trucks to sit on the mall site for $5,000 a month, with the materials traveling on Crescent Street instead of West Avenue.

“They were good to us, we were good back to them. It’s not about money,” Kinol said. “The insurance on my site costs more than that.”

Storing fill on other sites is routine during construction projects, Hennessey said.

There’s no mechanism to issue a temporary permit, as there is in other municipalities, Kleppin said, explaining that enforcement is therefore “discretionary on behalf of the staff.”

“As with other contested issues, I am still very concerned with the precedent,” Schulman said.

“Even if you were to consider this a zoning violation, I have never stood before a Commission and say in complete confidence that the activity was done with pervasive knowledge of many people in the city,” Hennessey said, suggesting that he make a formal request for an extension of Belpointe’s approval, that would include a schedule for removing the soil.

“We like the progress going on with the mall,” Sumpter said. “We needed some clarity.”
Schulman at the end of the meeting apologized for “his passion.”

“He’s been dishonest with us in the past,” he said, of Kinol.

“He got a permit to demo the building but he excavated out a portion of the building, he had no permits to do that,” Kleppin said. “But DPW said he didn’t need an excavation permit. He may have gotten permission to put the dirt there from another person but the permit that he brought with the paperwork was related to the excavation that he did without any permits.”

 

 

Monday comments

NancyOnNorwalk emailed Kinol and Hennessey on Monday to request the emails that were mentioned.

Kinol replied:

“I have been trying to stay out of the middle of this.

“I believe the zoning board was just not kept in the loop with the working agreement between the mall contractor and city agencies.  I believe they made the decision that was best for the city and I believe the zoning board agrees.

“What we heard the other night was that the mall contractor and the city agencies meet every week.  It was clear from that fact that the city is fully aware of each issue and each step the mall contractor makes.

“This issue really has nothing to do with us.  We were just trying to be good corporate citizens.”

 

The Pinnacle site on June 18. (John Flynn)

It’s not uncommon for one site to be used as a temporary staging area for another project, Kleppin wrote, explaining that if the materials are removed then the number of truck trips would double.

“At this stage it doesn’t make sense to move the materials twice, burdening the city streets with the additional truck trips,” he wrote. “In addition, the proximity of the Pinnacle site to the Mall makes it the least impactful location.  Considering the scope of the Mall project, we are trying to be flexible.  Unfortunately, the regulations don’t have a temporary permit process in place that could address these kinds of requests.”

Belpointe in May was also cited for rock crushing activities on the site.

Kleppin explained:

“There were two issues regarding the processing operation at the Pinnacle site.  One, there were materials brought onto the site and processed and delivered to other locations; and second, the east end of the Pinnacle site was completely excavated which goes well beyond the demolition permit that was issued.  Aside from one asphalt dumping incident a couple of weeks ago, all processing on the site stopped over the summer, so there is no violation related to those issues.”

NancyOnNorwalk was not at the Zoning Commission meeting but obtained a recording.

40 comments

Bryan Meek November 20, 2018 at 7:43 am

This is what happens when Developers own you and have the keys to the city.

The tenants at Waypoint never signed up to live and do business next to a contractors’s yard which this obviously is. If the movie theatre is gone not to be replaced, this is likely going to be our next pit to look at for 10 years.

Here’s an idea, instead of blue tarp, cover the dirt with Tyvek shakes.

Mitch Adis November 20, 2018 at 8:04 am

Good job Lou! Don’t apologize for holding them accountable. They should apologize for taking advantage of the City’s incompetence. Its similar to taking advantage of a mentally challenged person. Why should they profit from these illegal activities? How about a fine of $6,000 per month?

V November 20, 2018 at 8:54 am

Frequent commentor Rick was all over this while the fools at city hall were asleep at the wheel. Hoping that Mike M will finally recognize Rick as the valuable resource that he is- and stop with the name calling and projections.

Mike Mushak November 20, 2018 at 9:24 am

I’m grateful for so much this year, especially for not having thousands of heavy trucks loaded with wet soil rumbling through our city, down Water St and South Main to Meadow St, and down West Avenue and Wall Street to O&G on Smith St., destroying our streets and clogging traffic and causing headaches all over the city for months.

Imagine the spectacle of familiar heads exploding in fury and conspiracy theories if that were happening all year.

Yes, thank God we didn’t listen to the usual suspects who actually preferred all those trucks rumbling through SoNo and Wall Street day and night, instead of just shuttling the soil a few blocks away.

God bless us all, even the folks who have to hide behind single letter identities to hurl insults, like my dear friend “V.” (Is it Veronica? Vinny? Velocoraptor? Oh the intrigue!)

V, have a great TG, and try not to choke on the T and S! I recommend I nice red W to wash it D with. LYWAMH!

EnoPride November 20, 2018 at 9:27 am

Mayor Rilling and Mr. Sumpter take gripes with the appearance of dirt piles generated by the massive footprint mall they voted in being placed in a temporary staging area (where did they think tons of dirt could be pushed to in any easy way in such a dense area?), but I have not heard them once complain outwardly about the unacceptable condition of the Tyvek Temple and the negative impact it has on the Wall Street community.
It’s about priorities…

Piberman November 20, 2018 at 9:48 am

Loehman’s Plaza was once a pride of Downtown and a Norwalk hallmark. That it remained vacant so long speaks volumes about City Hall’s inability to attract business into Norwalk. Sigh.

Mitch Adis November 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

@Mike M. Are you suggesting that illegal behavior is acceptable as long as you can justify it? Please clarify.

Bob Partisan November 20, 2018 at 10:39 am

Why not put dirt there? It’s not like the Lohmanns site is going to built on any time soon….the movie theater not taking space is irrelevant. They won’t be building here until the innovation district b.s. is put into place allowing for even more tax credits and fleecing of Norwalk Tax payers.

Norwalk has been sold out over and over by this Administration and inexperienced Common Council.

Does any one know if this soil is tainted with pollutants?? Seems to me that there would be some environmental concerns moving this stuff around. What has CT DEEP said in regards to this?

Milly November 20, 2018 at 11:01 am

I think language like – try not to choke – is vile and should not be tolerated on this site just because you do not agree with someone’s opinion.

Rick November 20, 2018 at 11:08 am

Its not like its dirty dirt right?

Time to bring some experts in not all the dirt in the city has been moving by 18 wheel trucks. What would be nice to read are facts. Most 18 wheel loads are 70,000 lbs smaller trucks weigh what loaded?

The mall owns the city who is kidding who.

John Hayducky what is his experience what fortes does he foster what large construction jobs does has he actually worked on?

Right now we have a asbestos removal company working in Washington village which may lack considerable experience, Court cases elude to inexperience. Id love to see how this bidding process worked and who put their names on the contract.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/16+Woodland+St,+West+Boylston,+MA+01583/@42.3448491,-71.7863213,3a,75y,6.56h,90t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1slHCMcrOCbkBuIQ0oqrx6zg!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo3.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DlHCMcrOCbkBuIQ0oqrx6zg%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dsearch.TACTILE.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D86%26h%3D86%26yaw%3D6.5568643%26pitch%3D0%26thumbfov%3D100!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x89e3f840a6686649:0x4213e57ed120dbec!8m2!3d42.3449788!4d-71.7862577

Just another hack job run by the RDA , this recent dirt pile is a joke its time to hire some experts for the city the sickness reported from past residents in Washington village is alarming. Medical experts are talking clusters.

Now the city is concerned about what this looks like, anyone suggest pile driving for the next five years may effect a few residents as well?

Its like watching a dog chase its tale it amusing until you realize ther may be other problems.

We are not seeing any new rules new laws new ideas, Norwalk never lost its low hanging fruit .

Kinol is full of wisdom, Called IPIC to see if bankruptcy is on the horizon, and it doesn’t seem like it is. Checked the company out did a Craner run down and found something surprising.

Norwalk needs experts Norwalk needs to understand the Mall is not going to wait for Norwalk learn how do their job. The city is still chasing its tale.

Sue Haynie November 20, 2018 at 11:46 am

Piles of dirt from the future Mall, a site that was nothing but a pile of dirt for 20 years, are being neatly stored at a nearby site that is also under construction.

This dirt had to be moved and stored–it could have been sent to various locations around Norwalk instead, but who would have been helped by that? It obviously wasn’t stored in secret. I agree with Wells and Straniti, this is much ado about nothing.

Kathleen November 20, 2018 at 11:58 am

My view is that this is much ado about lousy government. Time and time again we find that there is no collaboration, information-sharing, or common sense among those running the city. It’s getting tiresome and embarrassing.

Michael McGuire November 20, 2018 at 12:15 pm

EnoPride – well said. I could not agree more. The City/RDA has blighted the Wall Street area yet we hear nothing on what they are doing to rectify the situation – only how they are suing/harassing the one person doing something about it.

We no sooner get Duleep moving after 6 years than we get slammed with POKO I – a project going no where ever sooooo slowwwwwllly.

I wish the mayor would share with all of us what is going on with POKO I. It has been too long and too secretive. What is really sad is there is not one highly experienced commercial real estate industry expert on the entire CC or Commissions. Does that seem strange to anyone? I’ve offered my services on multi occasions only to meet with complete silence (at best).

That is why we have taken to posting on NoN and followed up by creating taking the initiative on the Wall Street Train Station and forming the Wall Street Neighborhood Association.

I hope that the tax assessor’s reval reflects the damaging economic impacts of the blighted Tyvek Temple on the rents and occupancy rates on Wall Street.

Christopher Sci November 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Maybe if the city spent less time hassling homeowners about improvements and worrying about removing art murals, they would be able to focus on illegal and toxic dump sites in plain view downtown. Same goes for the mayor.

Al Bore November 20, 2018 at 12:49 pm

No more apartment buildings enough already the infrastructure of Norwalk can’t handle what we have, it is going to cost us dearly in the near future for the over building and over crowding that was allowed to happen. Big is not always better and Norwalk is bursting at the seams. Change our zoning laws, they don’t work and never did they allow for to much stupid to happen. Bring in tax dollars so I don’t have to keep taking out of my pocket. Stop the give a ways to the developers, bring in business that will bring in tax revenue and jobs. Happy Thanksgiving and I would be also thankful if Mike Mushak would give thought to his rude and senseless post before he post.

Hugh Sling November 20, 2018 at 2:36 pm

JJMcMahon please elaborate you mean the 20% of elgible voters who turned out? The taxpayers who are forced to fund project that they dont’ want?

Rick November 20, 2018 at 2:51 pm

I’m grateful for so much this year, especially for having thousands of heavy trucks loaded with wet soil rumbling through our city, down Water St and South Main to Meadow St, and down West Avenue .

What a stupid way of saying screw you South Norwalk.
The water main breaks all summer long is from heavy trucks using the streets where old pipes need replacing.

You car about water st but the city doesn’t seem to think flooding is a priority. It just doesn’t make sense.

Lets call in the DEEP start testing the runoff make sure the dirt is clean if not lets see it disposed of right.

The real reason this city is going down the toilet???…..The whiny residents….

The city is on the hook for dust created by all the new construction on Da and Raymond cluster are suggested.

Its funny how educated those sick who once lived and still live in Washington have become.

Those looking athe piles should know how dangerous they can be.

from a EPA report
Aside from the vegetable or animal component, organic dusts may also contain fungi or microbes and the toxic substances given off by microbes. … However, in this OSH Answers document, we are only considering dust particles that cause fibrosis or allergic reactions in the lungs.

consider PCB dust lethal and no reports from Norwalk so far is liability.

Im surprised and disappointed Commissioners Galen Wells and Kelly Straniti said they did not agree that the piles of dirt are a major issue.

Your obviously on the wrong board and need to understand what has gon on in South Norwalk Ryan Park and Washington Village. Your Both wrong for not showing concern in areas you know nothing about.

What Village creek went thru and according to Colin he made sure these issues were covered , shame on Village creek not calling out these dirt piles, nothing has been learned nothing is going to change, Rookies in the environmental world guised as commisioners. Admit your oversight and write me, learning new ways is not admitting your wrong. Wake up!

The trucks never left water and meadow st choke on cheese doodles washing it down with anything would cause me to be banished from NON forever.

M Murray November 20, 2018 at 3:09 pm

Norwalk is a city, not a small town. There will be construction and development and such. Stop worrying about minor issues. Norwalk needs to get development moving and bring in business and focus on creating a higher priced housing market which will increase the tax base as opposed to lower cost housing which will bring in less taxes per square foot.

CT Yankee November 20, 2018 at 5:19 pm

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I’m shocked! Shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

[aloud]

Captain Renault: Everybody out at once.

Tov November 20, 2018 at 8:30 pm

What’s most troubling here is that the vast majority of this dirt is recycled concrete- concrete that was brought from off-site, dumped, and recycled-sending thick white plumes into the many surrounding apartments for a solid 6 months. Not zoned for off-site dirt storage- how about the zoning for off-site concrete recycling?

Sid Welker November 20, 2018 at 10:08 pm

I adore opening this page and reading all of the comments. It truly brightens my day. Whenever I feel Ive had a rough day you mainstays bring joy with your constant whining about the same crap day in and day out like a broken record. If my dog died and I’ve hit rock bottom I know that I can come here and see that it could always be worse.

Lisa Brinton Thomson November 20, 2018 at 10:32 pm

Sid, You’re absolutely right, it could be worse:-) Our very transparent, mural loathing, unauthorized dirt pile administration just held its public information session on the property revaluation this evening. That’s right, on the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving – just to ensure a low turnout :-). Residents should be looking for their reval this week from the city, perhaps giving new meaning to the term Black Friday, since no mail will be delivered on Thursday. As the city notifies residents that their properties have ‘increased in value’ it’ll be perfectly timed against the reintroduction of the $15M in property tax credits and re-introduction of the Innovation District. Taking bets on whether or not the dirt piles will qualify.

Phil Hockner November 21, 2018 at 8:07 am

One set of rules needs to apply to all.
Not different rules for the mayor’s campaign donors or their employees who donate on their behalf or friends of zoning enforcement.
If they do not have a permit to store the dirt there make them move it or fine them. What else can you do?

Elle November 21, 2018 at 11:47 am

So many construction projects in this town that one can hardly keep track of it all. Does anyone know when they will begin construction on the new 106 unit apartment building on Monroe near the SONO train station? No clue why they think anyone will want to live right next to a train station?

How/why did they become so focused on making this lovely beach town into an urban center rather than just capitalizing on the beach and the small town New England vibe? Really makes very little sense. It seems people would flock to visit or live in a town that is more like Mystic and yet only one hour from NYC rather than just yet another city like Stamford.

Marie November 21, 2018 at 3:17 pm

@Mirch A: “Are you suggesting that illegal behavior is acceptable as long as you can justify it? Please clarify.“

Hahahahahahahahahahah. Ask Jason Milligan to clarify…

I agree with the Mike M about NOT having he trucks running all over the city (@Rick: you misquoted Mike and then beat him up for the misquote…*not), but the company needed city permission to do it. That’s how this works. It’s a justifiable action and these companies need to learn they aren’t allowed to do anything they want. Hope they get fined.

Lauren November 21, 2018 at 4:31 pm

This article is missing the most important detail: the illegal dumping of sono collection rubble was happening between 12am and 4:30am. They never came during the day. I took videos and photos and shared them with the people mentioned in this article. The videos really capture how earth shatteringly loud what they were doing in a residential neighborhood was. Paxton Kinol does not deserve to operate and work in the city of Norwalk {…}

Edited to remove an insult. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

Rick November 22, 2018 at 1:51 am

@Marie

I was making a statement, we have had trucks doing just that a pile as big as the one you see on west vae has been moved in sorted and crushed and moved back out.

You see South Norwalk is no stanger to dirt piles in fact the new rock crushing facility Village creek welcomed starts soon I magine by the predictions the pile you see west ave is about what thet may do in a month trucking it in then trucking it out.

Grasso is no stranger to piles that big as well. With city carting on meadow I bet they add over 800 trucks a day down south main st. Its a transfer station trucks bring trash from private companies as well. Even the housing drops off on meadow and not the city station by oyster shell.

Please understand if you dont live in South Norwalk most of what Mike M says is not true if he tries his facts out here.

He knows well about the broken water mains trust me his phone rings when they bust.

I didn’t misquoted Mike i simply said take away those trucks he spoke of not only match but triple the trucks that are already there daily.

Here one more observation why hasn’t the fire dept been more observant of the city carting transfer station is full this morning and its a holiday and City Carting in known for its fire over weekends or holidays at other facilities Im surprised our fire depts new chief with years of Norwalk experience doesn’t ensure we have no problems, the water pressure alone on Meadow is poor at best.Going back to the water mains.

We have pictures of the dirt and the ground water at the bridge before the mall its contaminated coming from Oyster shell there is a cap nothing stops it from leaking out the sides.

So is the dirt dirty? One way to find out is check your storm drains around the pile see if there is any blue sheen in them.

No one can say the dirt is clean and not filled with cement dust.

There is also a trail of dirt that left 95 7 and went to Stamford may a playground who knows for sure ho cares Norwalkd environmental track recored sucks.

Just ask Harry about the asbestos and lead at the old police station and the contamination still in the ground at the new police station..These new kids renting in Norwalk have no idea how pathetic Norwalk is when it comes to clean lots. Once a brownfiled always a brownfield.

The new building on water st Rich is going to build on is on the DEEP lst to clean up.

Im not saying the dirt is bad at west st but who can tell us its clean? Its ahame who is exposed to profit dirt, non profit dirt is when it has to be cleaned or land filled.

Why not consult the traffic study Harry asked for with the bridge that will tell you how many trucks pass on meadow south main and water st daily.

Like anyone out here thinks a study was done, that takes intellect and insight ,sounds like Mike has those numbers why would he say anything unless he held the facts. Not bad for an appointed member shouting out Harry’s defense.

every major group” in City government had been aware of the plan to put the mall’s dirt on West Avenue.

I would say that a lie. I know three commissions locked out of everything including the bridge.

what about it guys , we have been talking for months about that.

Kleppin is such an expert I wonder if anyone in city hall has ever loaded a dump trailer.

I did at one time move hazardous dirt for over 20 years with private and Federal agencies as an operator and a site manager. i know dirty dirt and to hit 70,000 pounds before the scale was an art.

Debora Goldstein November 22, 2018 at 12:19 pm

Ahhhh. Where to begin?
Let’s start with the comments by our honorable Mayor, who seems to suggest that people should be coming to him or “his office” to consult. How many layers of advisers, assistants, Clerks, chiefs of staff and cabinet position employees do you have to be go through to get to the Mayor now? Brings to mind the old commercial “how many licks does it take to get to the center of the tootsie pop?”.

Then there is the idea that someone pulling construction, excavation or zoning permits (or not pulling them, as the case may be, for something that darn sure looks like a permit should have been required) should have or would have discussed it with him or “his office”. At last check, there are departments and Commissions who have authority over these things, and I’m not clear where his authority to override zoning regulations might be coming from, if they did go to him first.

Next, there is the question of whether we are focused on the wrong violator. Brookfield (f/k/a GGP) would have had to pull permits for excavation and construction. Would those have required them to reveal the where and how of moving, storing and securing from run-off, of 15,000 yards of excavated materials (and whether they needed to be handled with additional care due to contaminants, especially if they were to be stored near residential neighborhoods)? DID that permit contain such information? Was it truthful? Did the Planning Commission and Zoning Commission review such a permit, and understand it and approve it? Was this information not required and therefore not available to the City in the first instance? It looks like Kinol did try to be compliant and is now caught in the middle of this.

Then there is the question of how a zoning violation for illegally operating a contractor storage yard in a Central Business District, can be found to be in compliance, and not subject to a fine. How exactly did this activity come to be in compliance? What steps make it okay for someone to operate a contractor storage yard where it is not zoned and still be in compliance? I’m sure there are other companies dying to know if they can go back to operating such a facility where it is not zoned. Like this one: https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/2016/06/norwalk-cracking-down-as-amec-presses-ahead-with-request-for-contractor-yard/

Another good question is why the City (and a sitting Planning Commissioner) would want to publicly suggest that there is discretion in zoning enforcement while the City is publicly embroiled in multiple zoning enforcement disputes with Mr. Milligan in which he is alleging (and suing over) arbitrary enforcement. I’m sure his lawyers are very happy to hear that they will go to the mat to prevent public murals, while allowing tons of dirt to be stored illegally a matter of feet from residential buildings on a “discretionary” basis, even over the concerns of the Zoning Commisison. Ka-ching!

Shall we look at the notion of being “good neighbors”? Good neighbors to whom? Fewer truck trips around the City, but okay for the dumping to occur near residential apartment buildings between 12am and 4:30am, as alleged by one of the commenters? Again, one has to ask whether the construction permits from the mall project properly informed the appropriate parties of the impacts from the construction. And is the storage of the mall dirt going to delay Pinnacle’s construction. If not, why do they have so much play in their schedule?

If this process is common, as is alleged, perhaps what is “best for the City” is to establish a procedure whereby such a temporary permit can be obtained, and maybe then the City could participate in the upside of this—which was also $600,000 in savings to the mall developer, as well as cutting their overall construction time. Instead of trading pain in one area for pain in another in an arbitrary fashion, the City could actually benefit ALL of the residents by picking up some permit revenue for this “common” practice.

Commenter Elle makes a wonderful point. And everyone who cares about whether we turn into another Stamford should make it a point to read (as painful as it is) the draft POCD and to come out and let the City know whether it really represents what you want Norwalk to be. For the next ten years, that document will be the excuse and justification for every new project and every new budget. If you don’t like what the last POCD permitted in Norwalk over the last few years, then you sure as hell aren’t going to like the new one! Don’t wait until the shovels are in the ground. Make sure you are not giving an “all-access” permission slip for projects that haven’t even been imagined yet!

I have to say that I am truly disappointed in a Mayor who suggests everything should go through his office and then also to complain when he doesn’t know about something. I am also disgusted that he is quick to suggest staff shouldn’t have done something, without first consulting with them. Clearly, they all had their reasons for the decisions they made, and clearly, he now condones those decisions, because there is to be no change in the status at this site. Of course, eventually, the dirt will go back to the mall site, and the problem will go away, but how many will remember that nothing actually changed after the Mayor suggested he was going to get to the bottom of the situation?

Kind of like the flooding appropriation. The City continually exercises downward pressure on the Public Works requests for flood control monies during the capital budget process. Then it declares victory in keeping your tax increase “reasonable”. After the lack of attention to flood control becomes an issue, we appropriate a million more, and declare victory for giving attention to it.

Unless and until we begin planning and budgeting to achieve specific outcomes prioritized by the citizenry, we are never going to ensure money is being spent efficiently. Unless and until we are clear in what outcomes the POCD (the “master plan”) is expected to accomplish, department heads will continue to have leeway to apply “discretion” on a case by case basis, and we will continue to hash out those judgements in expensive and unnecessary lawsuits.

Teresa Petersen November 22, 2018 at 2:57 pm

@Rick. I know you have an unhealthy fascination with Village Creek (and Colin) because we don’t jump every time you say GO, but {…} why would you outright lie and say Village Creek welcomed the rock crushing facility? We had many residents at that public meeting and 4 commented IN OPPOSITION (one via letter). (Pro-tip: in opposition is the opposite of welcoming). Here’s a little of that proof you’re always asking for: http://www.norwalkct.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/12345
YOU won’t hear them from where YOU live but WE WILL so of course we didn’t welcome MORE noise to where we live. Try a little common sense.

Edited to remove a vulgarity. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

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