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CT Construction Digest Tuesday January 10, 2023

$53M Cromwell Middle School project, including outdoor classrooms, moves to design phase

Andrea Valluzzo

CROMWELL — The new $53 million Cromwell Middle School project is moving along, with the schematic design phase completed and reviewed at the building committee’s meeting Jan. 4.

Next up is the detailed design phase, which is estimated to last about nine weeks.

During this portion of the work, budget items will be scrutinized, consultations will take place with officials from the health department, project estimates tweaked, and plan adjustments made. 

Much progress has already been made. After seeking to hire a construction manager for the project, the committee offered a contract to Newfield Construction of Hartford, which is out for review by the town attorney before being signed.

A traffic study is expected to be done next week, with a survey noting that traffic often exceeds posted speeds. Officials said mitigation issues might include a three-way stop or flashing lights.

Environmental consultant Jim Twitchell of Hygienix Inc. surveyed the building over the winter break. His report is expected next week, as is Geotech’s report on borings.Water flow tests will be undertaken shortly to determine water pressure to see if a fire pump is necessary.

According to committee Chairwoman Rosanna Glynn, the project is still meeting its expected timeline with plans to break ground this October.

At the recent meeting, John “Jack” Butkus of Arcadis, a Middletown-based project management company hired to oversee this project, said work is on budget.

Representatives from Perkins Eastman, the Stamford-based architectural firm also hired to oversee this project, were on hand. Joe Culotta shared site plan updates, including images of the blueprints which highlight the courtyard.

“We start with the sixth-grade wing and the seventh-grade wing and the media innovation center," he said. "Off that, we have an outdoor classroom that will connect through the courtyard, and another outdoor learning area here, and then an amphitheater,” he said during the presentation.

The natural setting of the outdoor classrooms were of key interest to the committee. During the meeting, it was noted that the public would have access to the wooded walking trails outside of school hours.

With any construction project, there are bound to be hiccups. One came to light during the meeting, when it was noted the specifications for the auditorium only had seating for 326, instead of the targeted 500. In the schematic plan, the auditorium is planned to be 3,500 square feet with nearly 1,500 square feet in addition for the stage and storage.

Several scenarios were discussed as to how to gain seating, and if a space waiver or state approvals were required. After the meeting, committee chair Rosanna Glynn said the estimates before last spring’s town-wide referendum vote included expanding both the auditorium and stage areas, but there was a disconnect somewhere down the line with the specs having a lower seating capacity.

“The issue today is trying to understand where the lapse in the Ed spec occurred … so we have some investigating to do,” she said in an email. “The additional seating itself will not drive the budget up, as we already planned for it.

"At this point, the current economic environment and supply chain challenges are the only known risks to the budget we have," Glynn continued. The extent of those risks will be made clear with the new total project cost estimates expected this month by Perkins Eastman and Newfield Construction, she added.

Glynn shared goals for the school: “Creating a middle school environment that includes and supports all students, teachers and staff is incredibly important to the committee and the community,” she said.

“The current middle school is designed with the students separated into teams, where they stay with the same group of students for the entire academic year. The students will change classroom to classroom,  but the broader team will not," Glynn explained. "This allows for the teachers to build community among the students. This programming will be improved in the new building, when the teams’ classrooms will all be adjacent."

She said the new facility will offer breakout spaces for students to foster independence in safe and controlled spaces within grade-level areas of the building. “The building will be designed with special education areas adjacent to each grade-specific academic area, to promote inclusive education and help minimize time away from the regular education programming,” she said.

“The building is being designed to support all students and provide them a space they can both feel comfortable in and be proud of," the committee chairwoman explained.

Meeting STEAM education needs is a top priority with the new building. “The school and community’s biggest need was to provide a building that supports a STEAM education to our middle school students,” Glynn said, noting there are currently enough science labs and the robotics and coding rooms do not have enough space or electricity to support the needed technology.

Residents can expect more updates at an informational meeting on the project scheduled for January 25 at 7 p.m. to be held virtually. Registration information will be shared next week via the committee’s January newsletter and social media channels.

Can a cluster development save the farm? Owners of Madison's Barberry Hill Farm say yes

Susan Braden

MADISON — A proposed cluster housing development on land formerly belonging to Barberry Hill Farm will help save the working farm, according to the developer and farm owner Kingsley Goddard.

Some 5.8 acres, the rear portion of the 17.5-acre farm, was sold last November for $2.4 million to developer Adam Greenberg, who most recently completed the upscale The General’s Residences at Fence Creek in downtown Madison.

The Goddards still own nearly 12 acres of farmland that fronts Route 1. The back section that was sold borders Fort Path Road and Stony Lane.

The working farm was a major selling point for Greenberg and he said he believes it will make it uniquely attractive to homebuyers.

“I think the most important thing is just the cool factor of ‘I live on an active working farm and there’s a farm stand below,’” he said.

“It’s not every day that someone can say, ‘hey, I live on a farm.’ Especially downtown Madison — it doesn’t exist. That’s pretty cool,” he added.

The proposal is to construct 12 units, each from 2,250 to 3,400 square feet. The official name of the project is Barberry 12 LLC and Greenberg is partnering with John Gianotti of Waterside Building and Development, who is the builder.

The plan is set to go before the Inland Wetlands Commission in the next month or so. Greenberg was granted a continuance of a Jan. 9 public hearing with the commission so his team can collect more information. 

The property falls under wetlands agency’s purview as the Neck River runs through the property, in addition to wetlands there and its proximity to Long Island Sound.

However, one neighboring couple is worried about the development’s impact on wetlands. They filed with the town as an intervenor, saying the development would hurt the environment, negatively impacting the Neck River and Long Island Sound.

The unique project will feature homes built in a coastal New England style, with some having farmhouse details, according to Greenberg. 

“We’re still kind of finalizing the exteriors,” he said. “We’re working on the interiors first,” he added, to learn “what people are really desiring.” As many as seven prospective homebuyers have reached out to him once they heard of his plans.

“We have some reservations from people who are very interested in specific lots that have been laid out,” he said.

Greenberg noted that both he and the Goddards agreed that keeping the working farm was key.

“We didn’t want to come in and develop the whole thing. I actually even went as far as to say — even if you offered the whole thing, we don’t want it,” he explained.

“It’s been a staple in town — the farm stand in the front. It’s just a wonderful thing that’s been there forever,” Greenberg said. 

“Farming isn’t overly lucrative and it’s very hard. There’s some financial reasons they were looking at selling a piece of what they had.” Greenberg said. 

His development plan, Greenberg said, “was more of a collaboration with the Goddards” who wanted to “best maximize the use of the property.”

But he stressed the collaboration “wasn’t just with the Goddards, but with the town officials and the neighbors who live there and see it and are a part of it.”

Kelly Goddard, who owns the land with her husband, Kingsley, said she is happy to be able to stay in their home, which has been in the Goddard family since 1909.

The stately farmhouse that sits up on a hill features antique wallpaper and original woodwork. The farm stand is a popular stop for many motorists to pick up heirloom tomatoes, cut flowers, other seasonal crops or their weekly CSA share.

The Goddards had to sell the land, she said, to settle an estate from some 30 years ago. They had been slowly paying off family members as they sold off pieces of the farm over the years. Now they own it free and clear, she said.

The Goddards had listed the entire property in 2019 for $5.65 million, but had always hoped to sell a portion to meet their financial obligations and keep the remainder in the family, she said.

“We wanted to be able to stay here in our family home — it has always been in the same family and we wanted to keep farming,” she explained.

Greenberg was more than amenable, she recalled. He told them: “'We want to have you guys keep farming.’ And we were thrilled with that.”

Her husband agreed: “The main part about selling this piece and having a cluster — it’s saving the rest of the farm. And, some development can save farms.”

“I’m not farming that land,” Kingsley Goddard said about the piece that was sold. “It’s a boulder field. Frankly, I didn’t use it. It’s just pasture — pasture and rock.”

He added, “It’s not going to change the farming operation with respect to the growing capacity. We’re still farming it.” 

The land which is in an R-1 zone, which is approximately 1-acre zoning. Greenberg hopes to get a special exception from Planning and Zoning to allow the cluster development. 

Greenberg also noted there is an application before the zoning board to create a Planned Development District text amendment to the zoning regulations. This would allow his proposal at Barberry Hill Farm go forward without a special permit. However, he still would have to go before Inland Wetlands.

Inland Wetlands hearing next stop

Regarding the inland wetlands application, intervenors James and Margaret Nordgren say the development, which would include paved surfaces, would allow stormwater and sediment runoff into the Neck River and Long Island Sound, in addition to the potentially harmful impact of septic systems creating a nutrient load in the waterways. 

Additionally, the Nordgrens claim that disturbing the land there would endanger wildlife, such as the spotted turtle.

Greenberg was granted a continuance of the Jan. 9 public hearing so his team can gather more information for the wetlands agency.

“We’re not pushing to just have a hearing and hope it works,” he said. “We’re making sure we have all the answers to any intervenors or any opposition or any questions the inland wetlands committee members may have.”

“So we’re based 100 percent solely by science and will be able to showcase that in the hearing,” he said.

Greenberg’s team plans to monitor the site during the next 45 to 60 days when the water level is at its highest.

“We’ve got a lot of monitoring to do — digging holes, then monitoring,” he said.

“We’re working with our team and our engineers to satisfy any potential questions or concerns there may be from anybody — so this is not just in response to the intervenors,” he explained.

“Basically making sure we are in compliance and doing things the right way and adhering to the public health code,” he said.

“So we’re continuing forward. The neighbors on Stony Lane are continuing to have their support and the intervenor is not an immediate neighbor on Stony Lane,” he said.

“We’re taking everything in stride. We’re not upset, we’re not angry. We’re none of those things. ... We have an obligation to the town, the neighbors, to anyone who has any sort of questions,” he continued.

Early opposition won over

“The key word for us is everything in collaboration,” Greenberg said. He noted that earlier objections from immediate neighbors caused him to cut the density of the project from 22 units to 12.

“And the neighbors kind of voiced some specific concerns. And we heard them,” he said.

“We noted them and then we went back to the drawing board and worked with the Goddards and the architect and the engineering team and worked with the plan that financially worked for the sellers and was going to work for the neighbors where they’re now excited.”

“It wasn’t that it was sheer opposition, it was just concern over things moving quickly and a little bit too much density,” Greenberg said. “I now speak to one of the neighbors quite regularly and keep him quite abreast of what’s going on. He’s excited.”

Torrington gets $5.2M grant for railroad park plan

Emily M. Olson

TORRINGTON — An ambitious plan to revitalize and redesign the areas of Church Street and Railroad Square near Christmas Village took a step forward this month, now that the city has received a $5.2 million grant. 

Economic Development Director Rista Malanca applied for the grants through the Communities Challenge Grant program in October 2022.  

The proposals were first presented to the City Council in 2021. The plan includes a platform for train passengers on nearby Railroad Square, a public park area, improved sidewalks and street surfaces, signage and landscaping. 

"Governor Lamont announced (that) the City of Torrington was awarded a $5,278,470 Community Challenge Grant for the 'Revitalization of Railroad Square.' Railroad Square is the neighborhood bordered by Water Street, John Street, Mason Street and Church Street," said Malanca in a statement, posted to www.itshappeninghere.com.

"The Railroad Square Revitalization Project is a true public private partnership, leveraging, state, local and private funds to complete an estimated $27 million project," she wrote.

On Dec. 29, Lamont announced that the state was awarding approximately $36.5 million in grants to eight cities and towns under the second round of the recently launched Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program. Administered by the state Department of Economic and Community Development, the program was created in 2021 to fund a range of revitalization projects intended to create new jobs, according to portal.ct.gov/officeofthegovernor.  

The Revitalization of Railroad Square project is now in the design phase, and construction is anticipated to start in fall 2023. In the area of Church Street, the plan is to "preserve, and enhance a compact, mixed-use urban block by creating new outdoor programming space for the YMCA at 136 Water Street, extending the Sue Grossman Greenway, creating a new trail head/parking lot, new train platform and many sidewalk and pedestrian improvements," according to Malanca. 

The Naugatuck Railroad runs the Torrington Express tourist train from May to October, with hundreds of passengers weekly traveling from Thomaston. When they arrive in Torrington, a new landing area at the railroad tracks will be waiting, Malanca said. Last summer, the railroad brought groups of visitors to Torrington for the afternoon or early evening with opportunities to visit Main Street's shops and restaurants.

On Dec. 30, North by Northwest Express was presented by Movies @ the Warner and the Naugatuck Railroad. The event began with a train ride from Thomaston to downtown Torrington, with original passenger cars New York Central Hickory Creek and Tavern Lounge 43 from the famous 20th Century Limited Passenger train featured in the film. Once the train arrived in Torrington, patrons walked to Salt 2.0 on Main Street for dinner, then went to the movie at the theater next door. The train returned to Thomaston later that evening. 

"The dilapidated conditions that currently meet the passengers will soon be gone and passengers will be greeted by a well lighted pedestrian promenade, new platform and a park-like setting that will be used by the YMCA to offer outdoor programing,," Malanca said. "This project creates a safe environment for kids and families to play and encourages physical activity & healthy habits that will lead to improved social emotional health and self-esteem. We’re excited this recreation area will become a hub of positive youth experiences."

In partnership with Michael R. George and Victor Terranova, owners of MV Motorsports and the Water Street Health Care Group, a portion of the grant will be used for "an adaptive reuse plan" to convert the first floor of 190 Water St., the former home of the Register Citizen, into a marketplace.

The renovated space would include boutique stores with meat, cheese and produce, a bakery, deli, coffee and tea shop, a boutique clothing store, or artesian shops. The Water Street space will include common space, rest rooms, seating areas and Wi-Fi, she said.

Demolition-Cleanup-Redev Plans Advance


Science Park’s redevelopers are still planning to knock down an abandoned factory building saturated in toxic oil and marked by broken glass.

They’re now one small step closer to realizing that goal, as alders advanced a grant application that would cover a portion of the $10 million they need to demolish and remediate the derelict former site.

That was the outcome of Thursday’s latest meeting of the Bard of Alders City Services and Environmental Policy (CSEP) Committee meeting. The meeting was held in-person in the Aldermanic Chamber on the second floor of City Hall.

The committee alders heard proposals from Science Park’s redevelopers and from four other owners of to-be-rebuilt industrial and commercial lots, all of whom are seeking out funding from the state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) for environmental remediation for their respective projects.

The state’s Brownfield Municipal Grants program requires that a municipal government itself apply for each environmental cleanup grant, even if a private developer is ultimately responsible for the remediation process. As a result, the city and partnering developers have to receive formal approval from the Board of Alders to apply for each grant.

On Thursday, committee alders heard pitches to fund cleanups of the former Winchester Arms factory building at Mansfield and Munseon Streets as well as the forthcoming “Monarch” apartment complex on Derby Ave., ConnCorp mixed-use redevelopment of Dixwell Plaza, the non-profit affordable housing complex slated for 16 Miller St., and a currently-city-owned parking lot at the corner of George and Orange. 

All five state-grant-application proposals received favorable recommendations from the committee, and will next go before the full Board of Alders for a final vote.

The Science Park parcel under discussion on Thursday is the crumbling former industrial building at the corner of Mansfield and Munson Streets, also known as 275 Winchester Ave., which was once part of the Winchester Arms rifle factory. Two years ago, Science Park developers announced plans to build hundreds of apartments there as part of a broader neighborhood redevelopment project called Winchester Center. 

“Unfortunately, we can’t save these buildings,” Science Park Development Corporation CEO David Silverstone told the CSEP committee. Having formerly housed a factory, the buildings are full of trichloroethylene, lead, asbestos, and oil. “They’re toxic. They’re dangerous. And we have to take them down.”

While Silverstone estimated to alders that the project would cost $10 million (the formal grant application places the cost at $8.6 million), the developer is only applying for $2 million from the state’s Municipal Brownfield’s Grant. Another $6 million for the remediation will come from other state funding sources, such as the Community Investment Fund, Silverstone said, while Science Park Development Corporation is contributing $2 million toward the process.

“I’m afraid someone’s going to get hurt,” Silverstone said after his presentation about the current building. He and his New York-based developer Alex Twining said at the aldermanic meeting that people have been breaking into the abandoned buildings. When asked about a timeline for demolition, Silverstone said, “We’re gonna take them down as soon as we can.”

Representative ConnCorp, a local economic development nonprofit, also appeared before the alders on Thursday to describe their application for $2 million in state funds to clean up the former Dixwell Plaza, a commercial corridor across from the Q House community center. There, ConnCorp plans to build 174 apartments and a daycare, grocery store, and job center, among other resources.

The company is planning to abate PAHs, ETPHs, and lead from the area.

CSEP Committee Chair and East Rock Alder Anna Festa asked ConnCorp leaders Anna Blanding and Paul McCraven the same question she asked every developer on Thursday: if for some reason the state doesn’t approve the funding, “will you still go through with the project”?

McCraven offered an answer that echoed other developers’ responses: “We’re committed to getting the project done, so we’d find other sources.”

McCraven anticipates that demolition of the existing Dixwell Plaza buildings will begin sometime this year, and that construction on the new complex will begin next year.

Meanwhile, the West River Housing Company, LLC, is applying for $1.3 million to remediate 16 Miller St. — where the developer hopes to build 56 affordable housing units along with a community center, playground, coffee shop, and other amenities. 

The developers themselves did not appear before alders on Thursday; instead, city Economic Development Officer Helen Rosenberg and the Livable City Initiative’s Mark Wilson presented on their behalf. 

Rosenberg said that 11 feet of soil will be excavated in order to clean up lead, PAHs, and buried wood at the site.

Local voting and environmental activist Aaron Goode pressed for more information on the boundaries of the proposed remediation. Goode has been working with neighbors to revive the West River Peace Garden, which occupies part of the lot at 16 Miller St. Goode said he “supports wholeheartedly” the development at that site, but asked the city to delineate in writing how the peace garden (including a bald eagle’s nest located there) will be protected, potentially abated, and made accessible throughout the remediation process.

When committee alders deliberated, Festa issued a “strong recommendation to the city to clarify and guarantee access” to the peace garden.

A nearby proposed affordable housing development, The Monarch, has applied for $985,000 to remediate the property at 149 – 169 Derby Ave. The site is a former dry cleaning business, which saturated the soil with PCE, a toxic solvent associated with dry cleaning.

Ally Michaud, a representative of the developer Vesta, said the company anticipates breaking ground on the remediation “before end of year.” She expects the building itself to be completed in 18 months.

Finally, the city is applying for $2 million to clean up a city-owned parking lot at the corner of George and Orange (on the northeastern side of the intersection), which was contaminated with ETPHs and PAHs. 

There’s no developer currently slated to purchase and build atop that parking lot. Rather, the city hopes that abating the property will help make it more attractive to prospective buyers — especially as the Coliseum project is set in motion across the street.

Once it receives the expected Brownfield Grant, the city would have three years to remediate the parking lot, according to Economic Development Officer Helen Rosenberg. “It would make sense to wait for a developer” before beginning that process, she mused.

Windsor mixed-use development moves closer to approval

Hanna Snyder Gambini

The developers of a proposed new mixed-use project are hoping to get the green light as soon as Tuesday to bring much-needed residential and retail spaces to the Windsor town center.

Sachdev Real Estate Development Group and Dr. Mohan Sachdev’s development plan application will go to a public hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission tonight.

The project, called The Residences at Bowfield Green, calls for a new complex on two vacant sites at 109-125 Poquonock Ave., with a 4-story building containing 77 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments over 11,790 square feet of retail, office and amenities space on the main floors.

The units would be market rate, and include 28 studio apartments, 41 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom units.

There will be parking for 126 vehicles on-site, 11 new parking spaces along Poquonock Avenue.

The project area is 2.3 acres where a former brownfield auto site had been remediated. 

Town officials said the project will transform an empty parcel into a gateway to the downtown area.

“Currently, it’s a vacant lot, so having mixed-use development that brings more feet on the street and commercial units is great,” said Windsor Economic Development Director Patrick McMahon.

If the plan and permits are approved, development team members are eyeing a May groundbreaking, said Chris Hill, of Terryville-based Blue Moon Design.

He anticipates retail and residential occupancy in about 18 months after groundbreaking.

Team members have already fielded inquiries for the retail sites from some potential businesses and small-scale food operations, Hill said.

“There’s lots of interest, and we’re excited to get going,” he said.

The hybrid meeting starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, in Town Hall, and is also available via Zoom.

Middlebury Residents Push Back on Proposed Distribution Center

Cate Hewitt

MIDDLEBURY — In a packed, often-heated public hearing at Thursday night’s Planning and Zoning meeting, residents lined up to express their disapproval of a proposed zoning change that would allow distribution centers in the town’s light industrial zones. 

The applicant for the zoning change, Stacey J. Drubner, of JSD Partners in Waterbury, is proposing the construction of a 720,000-square-foot distribution facility on the 93-acre Timex Headquarters property at 555 Christian Road and the adjacent 18-acre parcel at 764 Southford Road – totaling 111 acres. 

The location is close to the Long Meadow Elementary School as well as a number of housing complexes, including Avalon Farm and Benson Woods.

The project would include 90 trailer storage spaces and 450 parking spaces for employees, according to the town’s Nov. 29 Conservation Commission minutes. 

The town currently allows warehouses to be used for storage in its light industrial zones at a maximum height of 35 feet. The proposed change would increase the height to 50 feet. 

The change would add “distribution facilities” as a permitted use, defined as “a specialized warehouse that serves as a hub to store finished goods, facilitate the picking, packing and sorting process and to ship goods out to another location or final destination.” 

At the hearing, attorney Edward Fitzpatrick, who represented Drubner, said that the project was consistent with the goals of the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development, or POCD, which included promoting economic growth, encouraging industrial development and preventing sprawl. 

Fitzpatrick said development in industrial areas of communities like Middlebury are “net, net, net plus positives” to the town’s tax base.  

“All towns are fighting for this type of growth,” he said.

Fitzpatrick was interrupted a number of times by objecting audience members whom commission chair Terry Smith admonished would be given a chance to speak later in the hearing. 

Ryan McEvoy, an engineer with SLR, Milone & MacBroom, who also spoke for Drubner, said that the request for a 50’ building height would accommodate robotic technology that required higher clearances. 

When an audience member disrupted McEvoy’s explanation – saying that McEvoy was simply going to present a list of bullet points – Smith warned that the applicant had the floor. 

“He gets to talk, you don’t,” Smith said. “When I open the floor up for comment, then it will be your turn… If you don’t want to follow it, I’ll ask you to leave.” 

McEvoy explained that the 35-foot height had been established as the regulation in 1997, but the 50-foot was the modern standard. 

When another audience member interrupted McEvoy, Smith responded, “Sir, one more time, and you are going to leave. The police chief is here. I’ll have him take you out.” 

Public Comment

Jennifer Mahr, who lives close to the Timex property, said the first overall goal of the POCD is to “maintain the semi-rural character of Middlebury.” 

“It doesn’t define how we do that, but our zoning regulations do. Middlebury is largely a residential community with small pockets of commercial and retail use, targeted for the needs of town residents. We do not intend for you to be able to shop for everything you need in one place. We stock the essentials and we expect you to do your traffic generating errands elsewhere,” she said. 

She said that warehouses in Middlebury were to be designated primarily for the storage of goods and materials in conjunction with a manufacturing facility, prior to distribution. 

Mahr said that current regulations prohibit trucking terminals except for the transportation of goods manufactured or assembled on the premises. She called the applicant’s description of distribution facilities as a “specialized warehouse for finished goods” a “completely generic definition,” which she said served “only one purpose: to give the developer a free pass to build whatever he or she wants with zero regulation.”

The audience applauded.

“This is designed to appeal to the greatest number of clients with the least amount of restriction on who those clients are or how they use the site,” Mahr said. 

She urged the commission to put a moratorium on projects like this one until the town can “better define what uses we want and don’t want, what kind of traffic we’re willing to allow.” 

She said that it was up to the commission to bring the town’s regulation up to date with the modern economy. “We don’t do that by giving the applicant a blank check to do whatever they want,” she said. 

Another resident said that a poll on Facebook showed that 90 percent of the residents who responded were against the project.

Another resident, who is a resident of Benson Woods, an over-55 community adjacent to the Timex property, said the proposed changes were contrary to the POCD.

“Tractor trailers within 100 feet of the schools, and loading and unloading activities will be taking place within 200 feet of homes 24/7,” she said. “Changing the text amendment will only devalue every home in the immediate area and will constrain peaceful enjoyment of their homes by our neighbors and friends.”

Gary Kline, who said he spoke on behalf of the 44 homes in Avalon Farm, said the project would have a devastating impact on home values in the area. 

Chris Martin, a resident of Middlebury, said that distribution centers operate 24/7, resulting in light, air and sound pollution. 

“This is so clearly inappropriate, it seems unfathomable that the town is not fighting this, especially considering their stance on preservation,” he said. “It only takes a 60-second google search to see what damage these distribution centers do.” 

He said the client is unknown and there will be no accountability. 

“This is worse than Amazon. This would have none of the corporate responsibility,” he said. 

Another resident pointed out that if the text change were approved, distribution centers could be built in the town’s other LI 200 zones, potentially including the former Uniroyal property at 199 Benson Road.

After two hours, Smith stopped taking public comment and said the hearing will be continued on Feb. 2. 

“The applicant will have a chance to address residents’ concerns,” he said. “Right now we need to take it one step at a time.”

Information on the project can be found at on Middlebury’s Southford Park page.