Posted on March 8, 2021
Residents in the next 60 days will have continued opportunities to voice their comments or concerns about an organic composting facility proposed on nearly 70 acres at 331 and 351 Main St. South.
The first is at a virtual town meeting, planned for March 23, at which voters will decide whether to adopt a noise ordinance, which was drafted in part as a response to citizens’ expressing apprehension about truck and machine sounds echoing from the facility.
In addition, a hearing is scheduled for April 27 on a revised application for a town permit to operate the facility. At this hearing residents can express their views about the plans from Grillo Services, LLC of Milford, developers of the site.
Town officials said that these are part of the necessary steps toward a decision on whether this business can create on the property various forms of mulch, top soil and other soil-related materials. They are sold on the bulk, commercial and residential markets.
The company plans on receiving trees, brush, leaves and demolition items that are separated for use or discarded.
Town and state permits are required for the composting and other plans for the property. None have been granted yet for this site because reviews are still underway.
Bethlehem First Selectman Leonard Assard said that the go-ahead to a town meeting for the noise ordinance came at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.
A recent hearing on the ordinance — the first for this small community — produced questions about its effects on residents’ everyday lives and some opposition to putting more regulations on the community.
The local measure would apply to all businesses and residents in the town. In essence, it says people risk sanctions and a possible $100 maximum fine if noise reaches beyond property boundaries in excess of 55 decibels between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., or in excess of 45 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. This also applies to motor vehicles and there are exceptions.
“This ordinance is really designed for the constant noise that’s there all day long,” Assard said trying to reassure residents concerned about incidental noise, such as early-morning lawn mowing or excessively loud parties.
In those instances, the police would ask those responsible to stop or quiet down the noise, he said. Repeat offenders, however, could be slapped with a summons. A copy of the full ordinance is available on the town’s website at ci.bethlehem.ct.us Also meeting Tuesday evening, the town’s Inlands/
Wetlands Agency approved Grillo’s revised application for the permit.
Board Chairman Robert Smith said that this application, unlike an earlier submission, addressed missing issues. It has now been referred to the town’s engineering consultant, LandTech Consultants, Inc., of Westford, Mass., for a detailed analysis.
The board expects that the analysis will be completed for the April 27 hearing and for public review.
In accepting the revised permit application, Smith said that Grillo made certain adjustments and scaled back some of the plans. The full application with reports and maps runs about 600 pages and can be found under the March 2 Inland/ Wetlands Agency agenda on the town website.
For instance, the company at first wanted to include other areas of the property for potential expansion. However, that aspect has been removed based on the panel wanting to limit this permit to just the current proposed operational site, Smith said.
“They will need to come back if they want to do any expansion and go through this process again for review,” he said. Part of the company’s plans involve creating different colored mulch and chemicals are used in that process, the chairman said.
It has now included more storm water mitigation – also known as a “rain garden” – filtering areas close to water courses and property lines. This mitigation helps to sift debris, chemical waste and other solids from water as it moves deeper into soil, Smith said.
Nearby streams and other waterways drain into East Spring Brook that empties into the Watertown Fire District’s well fields, which help provide drinking water for sections of Watertown, he said.
“We want to make sure that it doesn’t get contaminated. That’s the biggest concern, the groundwater contamination for us. Groundwater eventually becomes drinking water,” Smith said.