Concrete Plant Planners Back Down

Allan Appel File PhotoOpponents of a proposed concrete plant in the Annex have an extra reason to give thanks Thursday, now that a developer has pulled the plug on his plans. At least for now.

That was the word in a letter sent to the City Plan Department on Wednesday by representatives of Henry Criscuolo. The property owner, who has been looking for City Plan permission to build a concrete plant on Goodwin Street, has withdrawn his application, the letter stated. Read the letter here.

It was music to the ears for people opposed to the concrete plant, who had raised concerns about noise, air pollution, and traffic from putting a new plant in their neighborhood. See previous coverage here, here, and here.

“We’re delighted,” said Fran Calzetta, a member of the opposition.

The battle isn’t over yet, she cautioned. While Criscuolo has withdrawn his application for the concrete plant, he retains a special exception for industrial use of the property, granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals in September. Wednesday’s letter explicitly reserves Criscuolo’s right to pursue development in the future.

Allan Appel File PhotoAttorney Marjorie Shansky has filed an appeal of the BZA decision on behalf of Elaine Stetzer, who lives right next to the proposed concrete plant site.

“We’re not completely out of the woods,” Calzetta said. “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Calzetta said she’s on guard against another move to push the plant plan through. “You don’t know whether the maneuver is honest, as in, ‘Oh, I’m pulling out. You people can be happy.’ Or, ‘Oh, I’m pulling out but I still have one more trick up my sleeve.’”

Representatives of Criscuolo could not be reached for comment.

“This is a good step, but we are still facing going through an appeals process, which could last up to a year,” said Anstress Farwell, head of the New Haven Urban Design League. Her organization was one of several parties that successfully petitioned to intervene on the City Plan Commission’s review of Criscuolo’s site plan.

Farwell said the appeal of the BZA decision will move forward early in 2011.

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posted by: lynne bonnett on November 24, 2010  7:05pm

I’m glad that Mr. Criscuolo has withdrawn his application before City Plan.  It is most unfortunate that this proposal got as far as it did.  This part of town is overburdened with terrible air pollution that causes cancer, asthma attacks, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, stunted lung growth in children, diabetes, lung disease and premature death.  It also has a very large number of multifamily homes and apartment buildings with small children and senior citizens that are most vulnerable to getting sick from this pollution. Polluting facilities, such as cement factories, are inappropriate to have in anyone’s back yard including the annex neighborhood.  It was great to see this community come together to speak up in defense of their right to clean air, less truck traffic, and a clean environment.
As Fran says, it’s not over until it’s over; we will continue to be interested in the outcome of the appeal regarding New Haven’s Board of Zoning approval of Mr. Criscuolo’s proposed use of this property.  We are most grateful for the legal support of Attorney Marjorie Shansky - thank you.

posted by: L on November 24, 2010  9:54pm

Good, and thanks for fighting for our neighborhood!

posted by: Louis on November 25, 2010  7:42am

Way to go Fran!  The Annex is luckey to have you.  Now it’s time to force the owner to clean up that mess.  Shame on him.

posted by: abg on November 26, 2010  7:25pm

This episode has highlighted the need for stronger community notification and public participation requirements for polluters that want to locate in New Haven’s environmental justice communities.  Because of loopholes in the 2008 statewide EJ law, certain kinds of polluters (such as concrete plants) are not subject to the same protocols for notifying and involving the neighborhood in a public hearing process as are other types of polluters (such as the proposed transfer station on Wheeler Street, whose developer Murphy Road Recycling LLC has had to set up community meetings and respond to questions from neighborhood organizations). These loopholes must be closed. If the Urban Design League and other activists had not sprung into action and canvassed the neighborhood, many Annex residents would never have known that a major polluter was trying to relocate in their midst. Even the local alderman was not kept in the loop. This should not be permitted to happen again.