Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Madison Landing Gets a Tentative OK From The Connecticut DEP

The state of Connecticut appears ready to give its approval to the proposed Madison Landing development, next to Hammonnasset State Park, a project that some environmentalists and smart growth proponents (like Audubon Connecticut and Connecticut Fund for the Environment) oppose and some environmentalists and smart growth proponents (like me) think is a good idea.

Last week the state issued a tentative permit that would allow the developers, Leland Alliance, to build a sewage treatment plant to serve 127 new houses and discharge 52,500 gallons a wastewater a day. The requirements for the treatment plant seem both strict and completely reasonable:

* Limit the total amount of potential pollutants, including nitrogen, that may be discharged into groundwater. DEP is requiring an advanced level of treatment to minimize pollutant loading to enhance and maintain the long-term health of the Long Island Sound. Nitrogen, which is contained in domestic sewage and other discharges, was closely evaluated because of the negative impact it has on water quality, natural resources and aquatic life.
* Require that a state-certified wastewater treatment operator be responsible for the operation, maintenance and monitoring of the system to assure compliance with the discharge permit. The Department has already obtained certification from the Town of Madison that it will ensure the effective management of the system through the establishment of financial and institutional controls to be negotiated by the applicant and the Town.
* Require that the design engineer, wastewater treatment operator, and Zenon system representative provide written confirmation that the Zenon system is operating within design specifications and permit conditions within three months of startup.
* Require that a state-licensed professional engineer perform an audit every two years to evaluate compliance with the permit and ensure the proper operation of the Zenon system. The results of the audit will be reported to the DEP, the Madison Water Pollution Control Authority and the Madison Health Department.

The permit is tentative to allow for a public comment period:

The tentative decision on the permit triggers a 30-day public comment period, which ends January 16, 2007, during which comments on the recommended action can be submitted to DEP for consideration. The agency will also schedule a public hearing on the proposed permit if it receives a formal request to do so. After reviewing public comments – and the finding of the hearing officer if there is a public hearing - DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy will make a final decision on the permit.

I think the Madison Landing project is a good because it’s compact, it’s built on a site that was already developed and therefore it isn’t gobbling up valuable open space, and because if it works it might encourage other communities to rethink their development policies, which have done nothing but turn Connecticut into endless subdivisions connected by ugly strip malls. I wish it weren’t next to Hammonasset, but that’s life.

If you’re interested in a longer discussion of why I like Madison Landing, I wrote about it here and here and here.



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