NORWALK, Conn. – Improved water quality is part of the pitch to put a BJ’s Wholesale Club on Norwalk’s Main Avenue on the site of a Superfund cleanup.
“Right now the water comes over that site and ends up in the Norwalk River untreated,” Attorney Frank Zullo said at last week’s Plan Review Committee meeting. “We’re going to treat it with sponge catch basins and Vortechs (a hydrodynamic separator). The quality of the water is going to be better than it’s ever been before. Right now it’s going untreated into the Norwalk River.”
The proposal, which is the topic of a public hearing Thursday at City Hall, has evolved a bit in the three months since zoning commissioners first began studying it. Plans now call for drivers to travel to the middle of the underground garage before being able to search for parking to prevent too many cars from stacking on Main Avenue while waiting to turn into the store parking area. Sidewalks have been pushed back further from the road to make senior citizens safer, a concern because Miss Laura M. Raymond Homes, a senior housing complex, is next door.
Zullo likes to stress that a 109,000-square-foot BJ’s Wholesale Club would actually reduce the impervious area that creates water runoff on the lot. He is referring to the 2007 state of the property, before ELINCO (Electric Indicator Co.) was demolished. The site is part of the Kellogg Deering Well (Aquifer) Field.
New to the plans architecturally are glass fronts for the protruding towers, an effort to visually reduce the mass of the property, with lighting from the inside. In terms of landscaping, a 30-inch grass strip has been added between the curb and the planned 7-foot wide sidewalk. About two dozen trees have been added to the plan, bringing the total of new trees and shrubs to 182. An 8-foot tall, vinyl clad chain link fence is now planned to screen residents of the senior home from the store. The store is now planning to donate an unspecified number of trees to the senior complex.
The seniors also would benefit from the availability of a crosswalk in front of the BJ’s, Zullo said.
The Rolling Ridge Condominium complex is behind the proposed store, albeit 35 feet higher. There would be 50-60 feet of vegetation between the parking lots, planners said. Ordinarily, trucks would park behind a BJ’s Wholesale club but they are planned to go in and out beside the Norwalk store, with more screening and higher fence than originally thought.
The lighting is 30 feet below the elevation of the parking lot at Rolling Ridge. Planners say none of the lighting will creep off the site, and the design meets the city’s requirement of zero lighting.
Commissioner Joe Santo expressed a desire to have the store’s trash compactor put inside. He was told that BJ’s Wholesale Clubs don’t do that, that the outdoor trash compactor had been included in the sound study for the project, but Zullo promised it would be looked into.
New to the plans are 1,000-gallon grease traps connecting to the sewer. That is in addition to “ultra-urban sponges” in the catch basins and the Vortech hydrodynamic separators, an effort to meet the standards of a 25-year storm or 5.7 inches of rain.
Water comes down from the condominium’s parking lot and from a pond up above, Juan Perides of Landtech said.
“It is very likely that the water coming from that pond through our property picks up some pollutants and goes untreated into the drainage system on Main Avenue and ultimately into the Norwalk River,” he said, promising to make the situation better.