With the public hearing about the proposed gravel excavation project still open at the conclusion of the Granby Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Oct. 9, the fate of the special permit requested for the project is still undecided.
Residents of Peck Orchard Road and Granville Road spent much of the Oct. 9 meeting discussing their reservations about the project. Specifically cited were truck traffic, noise pollution, general disruption of the neighborhood’s rural character and lowered property values. A major sticking point for neighborhood residents and other community members who had heard of the project was whether current zoning regulations allow for a project that is, at its heart, a commercial mining operation to exist in the rural Granby neighborhood near Hartland.
The proposal for the 7-plus acres of excavation involves removing topsoil, extracting hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of gravel on the property, then screening and crushing the product and shipping it out in trucks. The original application is for a two-year permit, but the actual amount of mining time may stretch out to as many as six years.
Henry Miga, a Hartland resident and Hartland Planning and Zoning Commission member who lives on Peck Orchard Road across the Granby town line, spoke in a measured tone about the project itself. He was quick to point out that, through his position as a building inspector in Simsbury, he has seen Simscroft-Echo perform good reconstruction work and said the company has a good reputation. But he wasn't all positive.
"The devil is in the details," Miga said, echoing a sentiment relayed by others attending the Oct. 9 meeting in Granby.
He pointed out that the proposed access road for the excavation project is near the area of Peck Orchard Road where cars tend to accelerate the fastest and have the shortest line of sight. The addition of a substantial amount of hauling trucks could easily cause problems to both automobile and pedestrian traffic.
Miga also said noise would be a major issue if the permit is given and the project begins. He said there is no ambient noise of consequence in the area of Granville and Peck Orchard Roads and the addition of a large scale excavation project could create serious changes.
"The hours of operation are critical," Miga said.
Chris Levandowski, of 34 Peck Orchard Road, shared the concerns about noise and neighborhood character. Her neighboorhood, she said, is wooded, quiet and peaceful, but this would all change with the addition of the quarry. Levandowski said that the excavation project will create drastic changes that will last for years.
"It will create more noise and dust," she said.
Another serious concern expressed by attendees is the many school bus trips made per day on Peck Orchard Road. Many of those speaking at the meeting expressed concern that school buses and hauling trucks from the excavation project would not be able to pass each other safely.
Local resident Terry Wright was worried about what he said appeared to be selective enforcement of zoning regulations. Drawing parallels to the recent and contentious decisions made over the use of dirt bikes on residential property, Wright said the creation of a commercial excavation site would seem to be "selective enforcement" of zoning regulations.
"This is beyond what you'd expect to find," Wright said. "There is nothing in the zoning regulations that would allow something like this," Wright said of his interpretation of those regulations.
Another Hartland resident, Sue Murray of 106 Peck Orchard Road, said her neighborhood would no longer have peace and quiet, replaced instead by rattling windows.
"THis is a horrifying proposition," she said. "You will destroy the road, the neighborhood and the whole community."
Paula Johnson, Granby Planning and Zoning Commission chair, did make a point to note that the commission is concerned with the effects of the possible excavation project.
"We do value our mountaintops and out neighborhoods too," she said.
UPDATED: The application for the project has been withdrawn and a new application may be submitted. Check for updates on The Granbys Patch as they become available. (Thanks to Chris Levandowski for sharing this update).