Planning and Zoning Commission approves new contractor yard near South Norwalk School

34 Meadow Street (Courtesy of Norwalk)

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 5-2-2 to approve a contractor’s storage yard and materials-processing facility at 34 Meadow Street despite some questions around environmental and traffic impacts. 

The application from WEB Construction is to erect a more than 18,000-square-foot building where the LeBlanc Auto Parts car storage lot currently exists. 

“The parcel is surrounded by other industrial and commercial buildings that have been developed over time,” Attorney Liz Suchy, the attorney representing the applicant, said. 

WEB already operates a rock-crushing operation on the site, according to Suchy. This new building would be used to reprocess the byproduct of the rock crushing and create new products.

 Rock crushing produces bedding sand, which Suchy said was used  to provide a “protective layer” on I-95 after the recent fiery crash to protect the roadway before the Fairfield Avenue bridge was demolished. 

The new processing facility would break down bedding sand into three types of materials that can be sold for use in construction. 

James Brenia, the plant manager for WEB Construction, said they are using a “wet screening plan” that helps to reduce the dust. 

“It’s a wet system—it’s like a conveyor belt system that’s taking place inside the building. It’s wet the entire way,” he said, adding that the wet screening plan is “state of the art.” “No one else has a system like this in Connecticut.” 

The commission votes included: Chapin Bryce, Tammy Langalis, Richard Roina, Louis Schulman, and Jacquen Jordan-Byron in favor; Nick Kantor and Ana Tabachneck against the proposal; Darius Williams and Galen Wells abstained. 

Close proximity to the new school

One of the biggest questions was related to the traffic impacts of the site, since the project is up the road from the site of the new South Norwalk School. 

When the application came before the commission in April for a pre-application review, Bryan Baker, a principal planner for the city, said, “We know that the new South Norwalk School is going in there nearby and then there’s the redevelopment of the Housing Authority property up the street, so we just wanted to see which way trucks come in, which way trucks come out, especially given the new school. Most of the kids are supposed to get there by walking so that’s just one of the things we raised.”

The city’s Transportation, Mobility, and Parking department had asked if all trucks could be sent down Meadow Street to Wilson Street to Martin Luther King Jr.

“That seems to fly in the face of what they want to do—truck traffic would be directed in front of where the school is going,” Suchy said. 

However, Steve Kleppin, the city’s director of Planning and Zoning, said that would be the quickest way for trucks and not have them go through city streets above the site. 

Lou Schulman, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, also asked if the northern entrance to the site could be closed. 

“If you were not to use it, there would be a reduction in traffic coming and going through that area which would enhance safety for the children walking to and from school,” he said. 

However, Suchy said that the path that exists today is the “safest” because it gets trucks on and off the road the quickest. She also noted that the additional building would only add one or two trucks at most during peak hours because the work taking place in the new building would be  recycling materials already on-site. 

Environmental questions 

Diane Lauricella, a Norwalk resident and environmental activist, raised multiple concerns about the environmental impact of the project. 

She specifically highlighted particulate matter as an issue as materials are moved.

“They will be transferring materials—there is a space, an open-air space,” she said. “You all need a much better idea about how that dust is going to be controlled, and vents at the top of the building give me pause.” 

She also raised concerns about how contractor yards are regulated, noting that the “enforcement mechanisms in this city are not up to speed.” 

Lauricella also said she had concerns about the noise generated by the site, particularly from trucks backing up as well as air quality issues from trucks idling. 

“Make sure they answer properly—the air quality questions the noise questions, and I ask that you reject this and you deny this,” she said. 

Suchy said their proposal would improve the site, particularly through adding stormwater management protocols and infrastructure.

“I have to admit, every time Diane Lauricella comes before this commission, it’s the same comment—you don’t have enough information. The staff didn’t do its job. The application that was submitted is incorrect. She needs more time,” Suchy said. “But let’s face facts here, this is a site that is an auto junkyard. There are no controls. There’s no stormwater management. Any opportunities to increase and improve this site and its condition are going to happen by virtue of this proposal.”

The application did call for additional storage piles onsite, to which the commission did add a restriction stating that there be “no more piles than absolutely necessary,” and staff would work with them to “dig into their process even further and saying what what what’s the maximum amount you need to function,” Kleppin said. 


One response to “Planning and Zoning Commission approves new contractor yard near South Norwalk School”

  1. Bryan Meek

    WTAF? And we still don’t even own title to all the land required for the school. What happens when the city loses its eminent domain strategy that just took another death blow here?

    What are we about $20 million into this fantasy that this is a suitable site for children?

    Not many, but there are several other places that were more suitable for children (including Springwood park where we would have a school open today for half the price in a park).

    Unlike a highway or critical infrastructure that can’t really be moved, this building doesn’t have to go here for the “public good”. In fact the “public good” would be to NOT have children co-mingling with heavy trucks and manufacturing of fine particle industrial products.

    The lawyers of the property owners must be licking their chops this morning.

    Once again, Norwalk loses.

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments