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Wilson Arms Plant Relocates To Branford

by Diana Stricker | Dec 6, 2013 1:30 pm

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Posted to: Housing

Diana Stricker Photo A local industry is expanding in Branford, and plans for a housing development on Gould Lane are progressing.

That is the upshot of two recent commission meetings in town.

Wilson Arms, which manufactures gun barrels, is expanding production and consolidating operations by relocating its Wisconsin plant to Branford.

Hugo Vivero, owner of the Wilson Arms facility at 97 Leetes Island Rd., received unanimous approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) for site plans at an existing building at 48 North Branford Rd. Vivero told the Eagle that he plans to purchase the property, renovate the building and move machinery from his plant in Bristol, Wisconsin.  He hopes the move will be complete by the end of January.

Vivero has been operating the Leetes Island Road business since he purchased it six years ago from the Wilson family, who started the company in 1954. Vivero, who runs the business with his son and daughter, constructed a new building at the site in 2008. But now they need more space. The company had 15 employees when the Vivero family took over, and has since expanded to about 50 employees.

“We’ve been growing the company in the last few years,” Vivero said. Operations will continue at the three buildings on Leetes Island Road, which have a total area of 18,000 square feet, including office space. The purchase of the 26,000 square-foot building on North Branford Road will provide additional space for expanded production and new employment opportunities.

Vivero said he will hire up to 10 employees initially. “The objective over the next couple of years is to expand that to 20 to 30 employees,” he said.

In 2012, Vivero purchased the former Badger Defense Company in Wisconsin, which also made barrels for the military. He said the decision to move the equipment to Branford was a logical one. “We have the expertise here and all the knowledge,” he said, adding that some of the Branford crew has more than 25 years experience.

“We make one of the finest barrels in the Industry,” he said, noting that the gun industry has some critics.  “Our facility is state-of-the-art….and try to be good neighbors,” he said.

Assistant Town Planner Richard Stoecker said the site plans for the North Branford Road property were appropriate for the intended use, and that the move would clean up a vacant property. 

Gould Lane Homes Pass First Hurdle

The Inland Wetland Commission (IWC) approved a proposal last month for a 30-home upscale residential development on 25 acres at 47 Gould Lane, near Exit 56. The matter was the subject of a public hearing which began in July and continued several months. Click here to read the story. 

The property is owned by Joe Capasso and his son Carmine Capasso, who are also the developers. The plans include 21 single-family traditional homes and a cluster of nine single-family homes that would be a condominium association. The project is an open space residential subdivision, which preserves existing wetlands on the property.

The (IW) commissioners put several conditions on their approval. One of the conditions stipulates that no lot can be cleared until a building permit is issued. The commissioners were concerned that the land might be stripped and then the lots would not sell, as has happened in other areas of town.

The engineer for the project is Dan Kroeber, of Milone & MacBroom Inc. in Cheshire.

The next step for the developers is to seek approval from P&Z. The project is considered an open space residential development, which would be a special exception that allows modification of lot area, shape and setback requirements provided the proposal meets specific open space requirements.

In 2009, a Rhode Island developer had plans to build 52 “workforce” homes on Gould Lane in conjunction with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust.  The developer, Stonestreet Corp. of East Providence, R.I., said the homes would be built with union money, by union construction workers, and marketed to working class families. Click here to read the story.

The developer requested a zoning change that would allow more homes to be built on smaller lots, and hearings were held by the P&Z. Click here to read that story. The proposal never materialized, and the property was sold to the Capasso family in 2010.

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