By TAYLOR HARTZ
Before any decisions are made on a plan to expand Tilcon quarrying, the state legislature is requesting that a study be conducted to determine the effects of the project.
Tilcon, a paving and construction company that provides crushed stone, hot mix asphalt, and ready mix concrete, is looking to expand their quarry by 131 acres.
In March, the company requested approval from the state to lease city-owned watershed land in New Britain for a project that would span a 40-year period.
After a lengthy public hearing, the Connecticut General Assembly’s Public Health Committee introduced a substitute for the bill concerning the water company land (Senate Bill 300), requesting further study take place.
State legislators for Southington, Rep. David Zoni (D), and Sen. Joseph Markley (R), both serve on the PHC.
Zoni explained the substitute changed the nature of the bill to make it a “study bill.” “This is quite common at the capitol,” said Zoni.
The bill was approved unanimously.
Tilcon’s proposal included “environmental benefits,” but the city of New Britain will now need to commission a study by a third party.
Tilcon proposed the donation of a new water reservoir in New Britain, and a 3 for 1 open space exchange – Tilcon would donate 327 acres of open space land across Southington, Plainville, and New Britain.
The additional quarrying “will create sustained economic, environmental and natural resources for the region,” said Tilcon representatives in a presentation to the PHC last month.
Town Manager Garry Brumback agreed the project was “a win-win for the economy, the future water sources of the region, the Town of Southington, and the surrounding neighborhood.”
Brumback supported the original bill, in favor of the open space. If the plan moved forward, Southington would receive 75 acres.
“This acreage would be forever protected from any future development,” said Brumback, “The open space would significantly enhance our Crescent Lake Park with additional trails and open space.”
Zoni agreed “the first reaction was that it was great for the community.” But at a public hearing on March 7, the committee heard a lot of opposition.
More than 60 individuals and organizations gave testimony at the hearing, including the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, the Connecticut Land Conservation Council, and Raul Pino, commissioner of the Department of Public Health.
The DPH was opposed to the original bill.
Pino said they needed to assess and analyze the impacts to public health and drinking water, due to long-term construction near the watershed and Shuttle Meadow Reservoir.
Pino also wanted to study water supply needs, changes to reservoir water quality, and a study of environmental impact.
He said that since a third party environmental evaluation had not yet occurred, “the potential effects of such change are still not known.”
With the passage of the substitute bill, a committee will be formed to commission the third party study.
“We’ll probably act on it in the next session depending on what the study says” said Zoni.