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Trumbull Intervenes With Monroe's Big Box Proposal

A plan for what many believe will be a Walmart has intensified relations along the Monroe/Trumbull border.

Trumbull Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio and attorney Darin Callahan testify before the Monroe P&Z Commission Thursday night.
Trumbull Town Engineer Frank Smeriglio and attorney Darin Callahan testify before the Monroe P&Z Commission Thursday night.
Historically, Monroe residents complain about neighboring Trumbull allowing commercial development on its borders along routes 25 and 111. Now that Monroe has a proposal for a big box retail store at 2 Victoria Drive, off Main Street, Trumbull officials have twice lodged criticism of the plan many believe is for a Walmart.

When a Planning & Zoning Commission hearing for Kimball Land Holdings LLC's special exception permit application started on Nov. 21, Jamie Brätt, Trumbull's director of planning and development, called for an independent traffic study.

"This is bad for the environment. Bad for existing businesses. Bad for both towns' health, safety and welfare," Brätt said.

Then, when the hearing continued Thursday night, Darin Callahan, an attorney hired by Trumbull, filed for intervenor status on the town's behalf. After the P&Z granted the request, Trumbull's engineer, Frank Smeriglio, expressed flooding concerns.

He said the development would speed up stormwater runoff from the site, which would empty into the Pequonnock River and make flood conditions worse for Trumbull properties downstream.

Smeriglio said he does not oppose the development, but believes there are solutions for handling the runoff.

While Kevin Solli, the engineer hired by the applicant, says the property is in the lower reaches of the watershed, Smeriglio says Monroe is north of the watershed and Bridgeport is actually at the lower end.

"I would agree with the applicant's engineering report 100% if we were within a mile of Long Island Sound," said Smeriglio.

But Solli contends the volume of stormwater runoff from the site will actually be less than it is now — making conditions better for neighbors downstream.

Robin Pearson, Kimball Land Holdings' attorney, told Patch there will be less volume because more water will be retained on the site.

The Burden Of Proof

An intervenor must have a specific environmental concern and has the burden of proof to make its point.

Callahan questioned why there was no pre- and post-construction analysis of the impact to neighboring properties in Trumbull. He also charged that increased flooding causes pollution issues.

Pearson said, "There are some general allegations to how this report was reviewed, but there is no specific analysis."

Callahan countered that Smeriglio did give analysis, but it was oral rather than a written report.

Solli testified that the drainage plan for the site complies with all of the requirements of the 2004 Connecticut Stormwater Quality Manual.

At one point, Monroe Town Engineer Scott Schatzlein said he had spoken with Solli when the property was in the wetlands approval phase and some of the things they talked about could be conditions of approval — changes he believes Trumbull will be happy with.

A Border Battle 

With Trumbull representatives asking pointed questions about a proposal in Monroe, the hearing was heated at times.

P&Z Chairman Pat O'Hara complained about Trumbull coming forward to file as an intervenor at the eleventh hour. Then there was an exchange over the regulations.

"We’re only asking the applicant what we would ask a developer in Trumbull," Callahan said of the questioning.

O'Hara said, "You don’t get to come into Monroe and say we want the Trumbull regulations to apply."

Callahan quickly clarified, "Trumbull is asking Monroe to consider analysis of the impacts on a neighboring town. It's not asserting that Monroe is bound by Trumbull’s zoning regulations."

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