After eight hours of presentations and questioning conducted over two meetings, everyone in the Town Hall Council Chambers Tuesday night anxiously awaited Windsor's Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission's vote on Dollar Tree's application to build its proposed one-million-square-foot distribution center.
But neither proponents nor opponents of the project had the pleasure of having their anxiety eased as, for the second time in less than a month, the commission decided to postpone its vote, citing time constraints.
As the clock approached 11 p.m., the commission voted to close the public hearing and hold a special meeting Monday, May 7, — one day prior to the Planning and Zoning Commission's meeting. The wetlands commission’s vote is needed for the planning commission to make a decision on the project.
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Tuesday, town officials, the developers and members of the public focused their discussion on the presence and handling of pesticides found on the site, namely chlordane and dieldren.
To support the company's argument that construction on the Stone Road site will not contribute to a public health risk, Dollar Tree attorney Tom Fahey called on Patrick Bowe, director of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's remediation division, to share his findings and opinion on the potential public health hazard of pesticides found on the site.
Bowe's findings were directly in line with : levels of contamination on the site do not approach significant environmental hazard levels; and the project, being a development on former agricultural land, does not fall under the department's remediation standards and regulations.
Bowe said that Dollar Tree's plan to handle the contaminated soils are in line with the department's guidelines for projects that do come under DEEP's remediation standards and regulations, despite the lack of a requirement to do so.
Bowe and Fahey characterized soil samples taken from the site as having contaminant levels that exceed industrial remediation standards and regulations levels; however, they said, those levels do not approach qualifying as a significant environmental hazard.
A significan environmental hazard, Bowe explained, would be contaminant levels that are 30 times greater than remediation standards and regulations levels.
Dollar Tree officials and those from Clancy & Theys of Newport News, VA, the construction company hired to develop the site, said their contaminant-hadling plans include the use of impermeable barriers to separate contaminated and non-contaminated soils, monitoring the amount of contaminated airborne dust particles through the use of six dust-monitoring devices on the construction site, and utilizing water-spraying trucks that will dampen the soil, hampering its mobility.
Ed Lally, the project's engineer, was careful in conveying to commission members the practice of dampening soil would not contribute to increased mobility of the contaminants on site.
"These chemicals are soluble and have moved," Lally said, adding that dieldren and chlordane "are as soluble as your granite counter tops."
Despite Dollar Tree's presentation of its plan to handle the contaminated soils in ways that exceed the requirements set by DEEP, Tuesday's discussion left much to be desired for some.
The commission questioned the last time the site had been farmed, and asked how much of the site is still used for farming. A concrete answer could not be determined.
The effect of erosion and soil runoff on groundwater on site was also an issue of uncertainty that no one seemed able to provide a definitive answer to.
Another question for some that remains unanswered is a true assessment of the presence and danger of chemicals on the proposed site other than chlordane and dieldren.
When questioned by an attorney representing Save Windsor's Neighborhoods, a group of the project's would-be neighbors who oppose the construction project, Jeff Day, a licensed environmental professional for Terracon commissioned by Dollar Tree to analyze the site's soil samples, said there could be contaminants in the soil in addition to chlordane and dieldren.
Day added that findings in relation to additional contaminants had not been submitted to the commission.
Following Tuesday's decision to postpone the Commission's vote, Windsor Inland Wetlands Agent and Environmental Planner Cyd Groff said the extra time is needed for the office and the commission to analyze the new findings and information presented.
The Dollar Tree agenda item has been tentatively scheduled for May 7 at Sage Park Middle School.
The planning commission is scheduled to meet the following night in Town Hall Council Chambers.
All other Inland Wetlands items on Tuesday's agenda have been postponed.