Wednesday night, the Conservation Commission unanimously rejected an to install a stone processing facility at 28 Industrial Drive.
The Waterford-based company originally for the project, after the commission felt it didn’t have enough information. Kobyluck Brothers resubmitted the application again this winter, only to have it rejected by the commission Wednesday.
Neighbors , arguing it would pollute Jordan Brook and create dust, two points the commission agreed with. Neighbors also hired an engineer to protest the application, and formed a group called Waterford Against Mining.
“It feels good,” said Mark Verity, who is part of Waterford Against Mining. “The commission did the right thing, they made the right decision.”
Kobyluck Brothers' owner Matt Kobyluck didn’t share Verity’s enthuasium. After the meeting in an interview with Patch, he criticized the town’s planning department and particularly Planning Director Tom Wagner, who he said “had way too much responsibility” and the power went to his head.
“There was clearly an agenda behind the scenes,” Kobyluck said. “Tom Wagner had an agenda from the very beginning.”
Kobyluck Brother’s proposal was to excavate the property at 28 Industrial Drive 50 feet down through mainly bedrock while crushing, processing and selling the stone it was removing, a process that would take up to five years. Then, they would install stone crushers at the site and crush stone brought from off-site and sell it.
Reasons Why It Was Rejected
The commission rejected the application because of its potential impacts on the surrounding wetlands, and because Kobyluck Brothers did not provide acceptable alternatives to the plan. The planning staff, led by Environmental Planner Maureen Fitzgerald, wrote an extensive report detailing the problems town staff and commissioners had on the project.
Specifically, the report said the application would adversely affect the water temperature of Jordan Brook, fugitive dust would hurt the wetlands, Kobyluck Brothers did not do enough to control storm water runoff and the application would hurt the existing animals, such as wood frogs and spotted salamanders. The report also said many of these problems would be the worse during the five years of constructing the facility.
“The proposed activity is found to have long-term adverse impacts on wetlands and watercourses due to the proposed long-term operation of the crushing and processing operations at the site,” the report said.
Regarding the water temperature, the report said the water leaving the site would be too warm and ruin the cold-water habitat in Jordan Brook. The report said Kobyluck Brothers did not provide sufficient evidence or alternatives to fix that problem.
After the meeting, Kobyluck said he was “extremely upset” although not surprised with the ruling. Wagner did not want to see the application passed, and the information he and his staff provided to the commissioners was biased, Kobyluck said.
Kobyluck said Wagner’s actions are anti-business, and Waterford is the worst town around to try to develop property in. He said he had talked to many general contractors in the area, and because of Wagner “the prevailing theme is that they would never build in this town again.”
“For the town, this is unfortunate,” he said.
Kobyluck added he was planning to build his stone processing facility as "a model" for all other stone processing facilities in the state. He said his engineers "poured their heart and soul" into creating the application and he was proud of the work they did.
Kobyluck said he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on trying to get the application approved, and said “I wouldn’t call this the end.” Kobyluck, who said , has 15 days to file an appeal of the decision in superior court and “would weigh all the options” before making a decision.
Meanwhile, the Planning and Zoning Commission still needs to rule on the application, according to Town Attorney Rob Avena. Wednesday’s rejection doesn’t automatically guarantee a rejection by the Planning and Zoning Commission, but that will be factored in, Avena said.
In December, the Planning and Zoning Commission that make what Kobyluck Brothers is proposing – processing stone brought from off-site – illegal. Kobyluck submitted his application for the stone processing facility before those regulations were adopted, but now his plans for 28 Industrial Drive would be against the town’s regulations.
Kobyluck has appealed