A plan to install solar panels at Meriden-Markham Airport has been held up by the Wallingford Zoning Board of Appeals.
Meriden operates the airport but approval from Wallingford is required because the airport straddles the town line. The panels could save Meriden an estimated $1.5 million over 20 years. A city official said Friday that Meriden is considering its options in light of the ZBA decision. On Monday, the ZBA denied a special exception required for the project to move forward. An exception is necessary because the solar panels would be in a residential zone in Wallingford, said Steve Montemurro, chairman of Meriden’s energy task force.
“To say I was disappointed would be an understatement,” he said of the ZBA decision. “This would really be a benefit to the citizens of Meriden and taxpayers.”
Montemurro attended the meeting with staff from San Mateo, California-based SolarCity Corp. The company would be responsible for financing, designing, installing, maintaining and monitoring the solar panels.
Montemurro said he did not understand the board’s reason for denying the exception.
“That’s something we’re still trying to figure out,” he said.
SolarCity officials couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
Montemurro said there is still hope.
“We’re looking at our options right now,” he said. “We do have the option to appeal.”
ZBA Chairman Michael Glidden said he couldn’t comment because he wasn’t able to attend the meeting. Wallingford Town Planner Kacie Costello and Assistant Town Planner Tom Hogarty could not be reached for comment Friday. Ray Rys, who voted against the exception, was the only member of the board at the meeting who could be reached Friday.
While the board voted 3-2 in favor of the exception, four affirmative votes are necessary, according to local regulations. Rys said Joe Rusczek, Alan Reed and William Birney voted in favor of the exception, while he and Jeffrey Knickerbocker voted against it.
Rys said he was concerned about how the glare from the panels might impact pilots. Rys also felt Meriden did not prove a hardship, which is required for an exception to zoning regulations.
“There wasn’t really a hardship, this was just a municipal venture to make some money,” he said.
But Rys said he was also not sure why an exception was necessary for the solar panels.
“At this point, I question why the ZBA should even be involved,” he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
NAUGATUCK -- The construction company that has been hired to tear down a dilapidated former restaurant downtown wants to start demolition at the beginning of the new year.Weise Construction, Inc., of Norwich, has filed an application with the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency to demolish the three-story white building at 1 South Main St., at the corner of Maple Street near the Whittemore Bridge. The building has sat vacant for more than five years after serving as a restaurant for more than 10 The company plans to begin demolition with two excavators as soon as it receives permission from the agency, which will likely be in January.
The demolition will start at the top floor and will end at the ground level, according to documents on file at the land use office. If all goes as planned, Weise Construction anticipates having demolition wrapped up in February, said Wayne Zirolli, borough engineer.The borough is paying the company $42,900 to tear down the blighted building that officials have complained about for years.
The building is owned by One South Main Street, LLC., whose managing member is Shellie Hertel of Rich's Car Works. Rich and Shellie Hertel bought the vacant building within the past two years with Charlie Wasoka, owner of American Vintage Furniture. They wanted land for parking spaces, and hoped to work out a deal to have it torn down. The borough was willing to work with them because they say the building makes the community look bad. A proposed demolition plan on file at the land use office states it will take two days to tear the building to the ground. Before demolition begins, the company will establish a traffic control pattern and hire two police officers to help control traffic. In October, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses agreed to settle a tax appeal filed by the owners of One South Main Street, LLC. The agreement drops the valuation of the property, therefore lowering property taxes. In exchange, the LLC allows Naugatuck to tear down the building, gives the borough land for a greenway expansion and additional land for the borough to build a small park with benches to enhance the main entrance to downtown off Route 8. The building is the first structure motorists see coming off Route 8 south at Exit 27. Borough officials have long complained about two dilapidated buildings downtown — the one at One South Main Street and Building 25, the former hub of the U.S. Rubber Co. Officials tore that building down last month. Ron Pugliese, president and chief executive officer of the quasi-public Naugatuck Economic Development Corp., says that tearing down those buildings makes downtown Naugatuck more attractive for potential commercial investors.