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Monday, July 29, 2013

Wallingford Taxes – MYTH and REALITY

From the “Contrast in candidates and campaigns: Dickinson-Zandri” article as published in the Record Journal on Sunday July 28, 2013.

“I think if you compare Wallingford with the surrounding area, we’re comparable,” Dickinson said. “We provide a full range of services. I don’t believe taxes have gone up beyond what they’ve gone up in many surrounding communities.”

There’s your first myth “I don’t believe taxes have gone up beyond what they’ve gone up in many surrounding communities”.

Below is your reality.

These are all comparable homes - Bedrooms: 3/4 beds / Bathrooms: 2 baths / Single Family: ABOUT 1,350 SQ FT / Lot: ABOUT 25,000 SQ FT


There’s actually a second myth here - “We provide a full range of services”. North Haven’s comparable home that pays about $40.00 more a year in taxes; they have regular curbside trash removal all included in the cost of their taxes and this includes a couple of bulky pick ups during the year. Wallingford residents pay for that out of their pocket.

They also have full day Kindergarten.

Both of those added cost burdens are managed by North Haven at the cost of an additional $40.00 in taxes against this cross section of homes.

For Wallingford to offer those two additional services taxes would need to go up approximately an additional 10%.


For a better cross comparison of the Wallingford average let’s take homes of all shapes and sizes – the present addresses of the Town Councilors and the Mayor and the taxes as taken from the Wallingford Tax office:


You do not have to take my word for it – call the tax office yourself and get your own taxes from the prior revaluation (pre 2005) and then compare them with your current taxes.

Knowledge – it’s a wonderful thing.

Dickinson-Zandri: contrast in candidates, campaigns

The “Contrast in candidates and campaigns: Dickinson-Zandri article” appeared on Sunday July 28, 2013.

The jump pages split the article – this link will take you to the story as it appeared on Page One.

This second link will take you to the story as it appeared on Page Four.

This is a very well written and rounded article by the Record Journal’s Andrew Ragali and Jeff Gebeau - it is a must read.

It’s your town – get informed and get involved. – VOTE Tuesday November 5, 2013.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Comerford Video – Follow up from the RJ story “Wallingford town official advised against showing video of environmental spill”

In a prior post I directed readers to the story regarding “Wallingford town official advised against showing video of environmental spill” via the Record Journal website. I also included the original O’Hare memo so you could see it for yourself.

Below is the four and a half minute video shot by resident William Comerford for your review.

O’Hare memo to wetlands commission Chairman James Vitali

You can read the story regarding “Wallingford town official advised against showing video of environmental spill” via the Record Journal post online. If you cannot access the article please let me know.

Beyond that, this link will allow you to read the O’Hare memo for yourself so that you can draw your own conclusions but the article written by Andrew Ragali of the Record Journal really says it all.

At the end of the day, if there really was “nothing to see” and we should all just “move along” then why NOT show the video? Show it, offer the same explanations as offered in the memo and then go about other business.

The reasons why are simple – there is more to scrutinize.

As quoted from the article “The town was asked by DEEP to stop storing catch basin materials at the facility in 2009, but the practice continued, according to DEEP. The town is required to file a compliance letter with DEEP in response to the June notice of violation”.

There is still more to these stories; stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

OSHA cites six violations on Wallingford work site

As published via Wednesday, July 17, 2013 8:13 pm

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224       

WALLINGFORD - The state Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the town’s Public Works Department last month for six violations related to work at the town-owned Wooding-Caplan property.

All six were called “serious” by OSHA in the citation sent to the mayor’s office on June 26.

For the full story please see OSHA cites six violations on Wallingford work site

To see the 07-17-13 OSHA letter to Mayor Dickinson of June 26, 2013 please follow this link.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Caucuses will fill November ballot

As published in the Record Journal Friday July 12, 2013

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224       

WALLINGFORD — Candidates for mayor, Town Council and Board of Education will be endorsed at party caucuses Wednesday night.

At 7 p.m., the Democratic Town Committee will meet on the second floor of 350 Center St, said committee Chairman Vinnie Avallone. The Republican Town Committee will meet at the same time at Dag Hammarskjold Middle School on Pond Hill Road, said Chairman Bob Prentice.

Six Democrats, including two incumbents — Nick Economopoulos and John Sullivan — have announced that they are running for the council next term, Avallone said. Jason Zandri will give up his council seat to run for mayor. Other council candidates include former councilor and mayoral candidate Vinnie Testa, as well as Debbie Reynolds, Dana Camp and Larry Russo. Avallone said the four current Democrats on the Board of Education will seek endorsement, as will newcomer Patricia Mills.

Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr., a Republican, has announced he will seek re-election. Prentice said Republicans will end up running seven candidates for Town Council. With the exception of Rosemary Rascati, who has announced she will not seek reelection, all the incumbents will run. In addition, former Councilor Ray Rys and current Board of Education member Christine Mansfield will be seeking council seats, Prentice said. The four Republican Board of Education incumbents, minus Mansfield, will seek re-election, he said, adding that the committee is still looking to add two candidates to the Board of Education ticket.

“It’s not official till the caucus is over,” Prentice said.

On the Republican side, a single ballot is normally cast to endorse the entire slate of candidates during the caucus, Prentice said.

Since only six Democrats are seeking council seats, that can happen, on the Democratic side as well, Avallone said. The alternative would be for a nomination and vote for each candidate, he added.

Candidates must file financial registration with the town clerk’s office by 4 p.m. July 29, said Town Clerk Barbara Thompson. This paperwork includes reports on campaign finances. Candidates must file with the office “even if they’re not going to raise money,” Thompson said. If they don’t file in time, they will be subject to a $100 fine, she said.

As of Thursday, Zandri, Dickinson, Camp and Rys have filed paperwork with the office. Zandri is the only candidate to have raised money for his campaign so far.

Zandri has raised $14,335, with $10,107 still unspent. According to paperwork filed with the town clerk’s office, Zandri has spent his campaign money on office supplies. He also spent $200 on three occasions for the services of What’s Next, a political consulting firm based in Wethersfield. Zandri said the firm is developing walking routes so he can efficiently campaign door-to-door, because “you need to knock on the right door,” he said. Zandri also spent $980 in campaign money for the services of The Vinci Group, a Manchester consulting firm that organizes fundraisers, Zandri said, including the July 24 event at Zandri’s Stillwood Inn on South Colony Road. The event will be hosted by local state Reps. Mary Mushinsky and Mary Fritz. Lt Gov. Nancy Wyman will be a special guest at the event, Zandri said.

“It’s generating a lot of interest at the state level, too,” Avallone said of Zandri’s campaign. “There’s a lot of energy.”

Zandri said he has already begun his door-to-door campaigning. Support so far has been positive, he said, with the only negative being that people are upset he won’t be a town councilor anymore.

Dickinson said he will look to begin fundraising in the coming weeks.

“It’s putting the plans together,” he said. “I can’t do a lot of door-to-door, but I try to do some.”

A lot of the work is behind the scenes putting literature and mailings together.

“That’s what most of the campaign money goes into,” he said, adding that there is a lot of assistance from the Republican Town Committee, as well as non-committee members in town.

Prentice said Dickinson’s run for mayor is “usually a pretty simple campaign.”

“He never takes any credit for anything, he said. “That’s what kills me.”

Both mayoral candidates said they support their parties’ Town Council and Board of Education candidates, and view them as teammates in the race for mayor.

Thompson said Prentice and Avallone must file their certificate of endorsement with her office by July 24. This paperwork officially lists whom each party endorses. Throughout the state, all candidates for election must be endorsed between July 16 and July 23.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

No grant for Simpson Court in Wallingford

As published online at Thursday, July 11, 2013 11:07 pm

By Andrew Ragali       
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224       

WALLINGFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday that 14 municipalities across the state were awarded a share of the $5 million Main Street Investment Fund. Wallingford, seeking $500,000 from the fund to renovate the Simpson Court parking lot near the intersection of Center and North Main streets, was left off the list.

“We knew it was a competitive grant,” Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said after learning the town will not receive the money. “Everyone was not guaranteed money, and I guess quite a few towns did apply. That’s the nature of the process.”

In all, 64 towns submitted projects worth a total of $26 million to the program, but the state only authorized spending $5 million. Not making the cut is “disappointing,” Dickinson said, “but certainly our concerns about the downtown and the needs for improvement here as well as the other facets and locations in town will continue.”

Dimple Desai, community development coordinator for the state’s Office of Policy and Management, said it was “the nature of the application” sent in by Wallingford that prompted the denial. Desai said the application was for maintenance and upkeep of the parking lot. But according to state statute, Desai said, any renovations that are solely the result of a lack of ordinary maintenance can’t be funded by the Main Street Investment Fund.

“It has to be maintained,” Desai said. “This should have been part of ordinary maintenance.”

Desai said a letter penned by three town councilors discrediting the town’s application for the grant had nothing to do with the denial.

“No, those letters were submitted after the application deadline,” Desai said. “Any documentation after the deadline will not be considered.

“To be fair to all, once the deadline was done, that was it,” he said.

Republican Councilor Craig Fishbein joined Democrats Jason Zandri and Nicholas Economopoulos in sending the Nov. 1 letter to the OPM. The town applied for the grant in late September.

“Components of the application do not appear to comply with the grant specifications and should be taken into consideration when reviewing the town’s application,” Fishbein wrote.

After learning why the state denied the town’s application, Zandri said, “That was a lot of the argument we made originally in the letter. ... Craig indicated that.”

Fishbein, in his letter, argued that elements of the Simpson Court project, such as repaving, restriping and new drainage, amount to normal maintenance and should be excluded.

A plan to renovate the parking lot backed by Dickinson, a Republican, and others was defeated in a 2011 referendum. That plan was similar to the one stalled by Thursday’s announcement from the state, but would have been funded through money the municipal Electric Division transfers to the town for capital projects, rather than from a state grant.

In past months, councilors have indicated their concern over the letter sent by Zandri, Fishbein and Economopoulos. In early June, Democrat John Sullivan said, regarding the letter, “I can’t help but feel it’s damaging” to the town’s chances of receiving grant money for the project. In January, Republican Councilor John LeTourneau, a supporter of the grant application, said the councilors are entitled to their opinions but felt the letter was misleading. Councilors found out about the letter in late January. Fishbein said he never intended for the letter, written in October, to be kept private and believed fellow councilors were aware of it when it was sent. But most councilors said they weren’t aware of the letter until the end of January.

“You have to assume it’s not helpful if there’s controversy over a project,” Dickinson said Thursday.

“I stand by my decision to sign that letter,” said Zandri, who is opposing Dickinson in the upcoming mayoral race.

“I had a good feeling about it, but I had no special reason to feel that way,” Town Council Chairman Bob Parisi, a Republican, said of the town’s chances of getting the grant. “The project was needed, well thought-out and well planned. I couldn’t see any reason why we wouldn’t be selected.”

In regard to what happens with the parking lot next, Parisi said, “I think we need to have a chat with the mayor.”

“I’m very disappointed,” LeTourneau said. “If it’s something we should be maintaining, they’re telling us we didn’t maintain it properly. That’s really not good, to lose a grant because we didn’t do what we were supposed to be doing.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Fishbein said, “but certainly I wouldn’t be pointing at the letter. I think the people have spoken through referendum.”

The future of the property may now come down to litigation, in LeTourneau’s opinion.

“It’s not going to go down a good road,” he said. “It’s all going to end up in litigation. That’s the long and short of it.”

“Could it end up in litigation?” Zandri asked. “Absolutely.”

Through a contractual agreement with business owners, upkeep of the lot was the town’s responsibility, Zandri said. “And it’s questionable if that work was done.”

“I don’t know,” said Dickinson when asked if litigation was possible. “Clearly the private property owners there have options that they can pursue.”

From here on out, Dickinson said, the town will have to wait and see what the next step is for the parking lot.

“If everybody can’t sit down and can’t negotiate some peaceful means of repairing the parking lot,” LeTourneau said, “well, then a judge is going to decide.”

Excerpts from DEEP notices / PDF of letter of violation

Via this link you can review the entire “Notice of Violation for solid waste violations in the Town of Wallingford.”

Below are the “Excerpts from DEEP notices” as published in the Record Journal on Sunday July 7, 2013

WALLINGFORD — The town has been cited for nine violations of environmental laws and regulations for its handling of waste at two town-owned properties — 91 N. Turnpike Road and 157 John St. The following are excerpts from the DEEP’s June 13 Notice of Violation addressed to Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.:

The purpose of this Notice is to inform you that personnel of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”) have made observations or otherwise obtained information indicating that a violation of law has occurred at property located at 91 North Turnpike Road and 157 John Street in Wallingford, Connecticut. On May 15, 2013, an inspection was conducted by DEEP, Bureau of Materials Management and Compliance Assurance... Based upon that inspection, it appears that the town has:

1. Built, established, altered and/or operated a solid waste facility where more than ten cubic yards of solid waste including, but not limited to catch basin cleanings and oily wastewater, were disposed of after July 1, 1971, without a plan, design and method of operation of such solid waste facility having been filed with the Department and approved by the Commissioner by the issuance of a permit to construct and operate a solid waste facility...

2. Violated the Approval of Registration under the General Permit to Construct and Operate Certain Recycling Facilities to Operate a Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration ... at 157 John Street in Wallingford.

3. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration ... at 157 John Street ... for failure to provide a berm so as to prevent run-on and failure to provide a spill containment system capable of containing 100% by volume of the contents of the 275 gallon existing used oil tank.

4. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration ... at 157 John Street ... for failure to ensure that no person other than an employee of the facility, or person under the supervision of such an employee, may pour used oil into a collection container or tank at the facility.

5. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration at 157 John Street ... for failure to provide an adequate temporary storage area for residents to drop off containers of used oil. This temporary storage area shall be adjacent to the used oil tank and shall, at a minimum, have a sufficiently impervious surface, have three walls and a roof, and provide for secondary containment.

6. Violated the Drop-Site Recycling Facility Permit Registration at 157 John Street ... for failure to store no more than sixty (60) scrap metal appliances containing CFCs on-site. Specifically, approximately seventy (70) individual units were observed on-site at the time of the inspection.

7. Failed to manage used oil as required by Section 22a-449(c)119(a)(2)(N) and (O) of the RCSA,incorporating Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“40 CFR”) 279.22(d), with specified changes.

8. Failed to ensure that used oil generated by the Town of Wallingford was transported only by transporters who had obtained EPA identification numbers as required...

9. Failed to have a permit to operate a used oil collection center as required... Specifically, there are certain regulatory requirements that must be met prior to aggregating the used oil from the used oil storage area’s secondary containment to an aggregation point.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Under the Department’s “Guideline for Municipal Management Practices for Street Sweepings and Catch Basin Cleaning” ..., street sweepings are allowed to be stored at a designated temporary storage location for less than one year. The Town of Wallingford stated that the existing street sweepings stockpile at 91 North Turnpike Road accumulated over three years. The Town of Wallingford is required to either reuse in accordance with the Department’s guideline or send off-site for disposal at a permitted facility all street sweepings from this site. The Town of Wallingford is advised that the violations cited above can reasonably be expected to create a source of pollution to the waters of the State, by a release of used oil and other solid waste to the ground. Such a condition would be in Violation of CGS Section 22a-427, and would require action by the Town to remedy this condition.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Town challenges DEEP notice on recycling issues

As published in the Record Journal Wednesday July 10, 2013

By Andrew Ragali       
Record-Journal staff   
(203) 317-2224       

WALLINGFORD — The town is either asking for clarification or disagreeing with seven of nine violations cited by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The violations, subject of a notice issued June 13, pertain to operations at the municipal recycling center on John Street and a Public Works dumping and storage facility on North Turnpike Road.

Public Works Director Henry McCully wrote June 28 to Laurene Buckowski, a DEEP sanitary engineer, questioning many of the violations cited. While McCully wrote that the town has fully complied with DEEP standards at 91 N. Turnpike Road, he questions or asks for clarifications on seven of the eight violations cited regarding the town’s recycling center.

“In addition to working with you to resolve these issues,” McCully wrote, “it may be advisable to review certain requirements with our contractor at the recycling center.”
Fabio Enterprises, of Wallingford, is under contract with the town to operate the recycling center.

The nine violations cited were the result of a May 15 DEEP inspection of both facilities. The state found the town violated state environmental laws and regulations by improperly disposing of residential waste oil at the 157 John St. facility, while Public Works was cited for illegal dumping on the 91 N. Turnpike Road property.

A letter of compliance must be submitted within 30 days of a notice of violation, according to the DEEP. If the town does not comply, civil penalties of up to $25,000 may be assessed for each day the town is knowingly in violation of DEEP standards.

According to the timeframe of the initial notice of violation, the town must officially respond with a compliance letter by Friday. On Tuesday, Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said, “I believe that we will be able to respond within that timeframe.”

In his letter, McCully said he was concerned about the timeframe. He said that the mayor did not receive the initial notice in full until June 21, eight days after it was issued. Mc-Cully wrote that “if it becomes necessary, we may need additional time.” Dickinson said he is overseeing the situation with DEEP, but at this point the law department and McCully are the main parties involved.

Corporation Counsel Janis Small said Tuesday that she asked McCully to respond to DEEP with some questions, but that his letter was not the town’s final compliance letter.

“We did have a few questions,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re all on the same page.”

McCully’s letter says the town has made the necessary changes at 91 N. Turnpike Road. DEEP had said the town did not have proper permits to store catch-basin cleanings and oily wastewater in the area.

McCully said that from now on, street sweeping waste will be stored in the public works salt shed before being taken to a landfill in Manchester. The oily release at the site, which prompted the DEEP investigation, is being removed, he said, and future catch-basin cleanings at the department’s truck wash station will be done by a contractor. Catch-basin cleaning has been temporarily suspended, he added.

Notice of another violation, related to oil disposal at the recycling center, was issued because the town does not have a “used oil” sign on storage tanks. McCully responded that the tanks are labeled with the words “waste oil,” as well as another sign that reads “used crankcase oil only, do not contaminate this waste oil.”

“It is our belief that the terms ‘waste oil’ and ‘used oil’ have historically been used interchangeably,” McCully said. He asked for further comment.

In another violation involving oil disposal, DEEP said the facility failed to provide an adequate containment area for the 275-gallon used-oil tank.

“The town does not believe there is a violation,” McCully said.

“The secondary containment berm has a capacity of 320 gallons while the tank has a capacity of 275 gallons.”
DEEP said the town failed to ensure that no person other than an employee of the facility, or someone under the supervision of an employee, pours oil into the used-oil tank.

McCully responded that the town contracts with Fabio Enterprises, and that according to bid documents, the contractor is responsible for the collection of waste oil.

McCully said Fabio Enterprises has indicated that residents disposing of oil are supervised.

McCully asked for additional information about what is required.

Responding to a violation cited because a temporary storage area for waste-oil containers isn’t available, McCully said that because the waste-oil tank is supervised, “a temporary storage area for the collection of containers of used oil is not required.”

“Is this correct?” he asked.

A DEEP inspector visiting the recycling center noted about 70 scrap metal appliances, and only 60 are allowed. McCully said the town’s agreement with Fabio Enterprises makes the state’s regulations clear, and the contractor has been notified of the violation.

While Fabio Enterprises runs the facility, “the town is ultimately responsible,” said Robert Isner, program manager of DEEP’s waste management program. “The town is the permit holder with the department,” he said.

McCully said the town did not understand another cited violation regarding managing used oil, and requested clarification. The town was cited for failing to ensure used oil is transported by those with proper credentials. It’s unclear if violation makes sense, McCully said, because his department reuses the waste oil. DEEP also said the town lacks the proper permits for the waste oil site, but McCully said he believes the town’s permit includes the facility.

McCully said he would meet with Buckowski this week for further discussion and clarification.

“We are analyzing the response to the notice of violation provided by the town of Wallingford,” DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said Tuesday. “We plan on discussing with them issues they raised in their letter and also following up with another inspection of the facility. Our goal is to achieve compliance with conditions of the town’s permit and sound environmental practices and we will continue working with the town to achieve that.”

Monday, July 8, 2013

Town mulls DEEP reply

As published in the Record Journal Sunday July 7, 2013

By Andrew Ragali
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

WALLINGFORD — The town has drafted a response to nine environmental violations issued by the state for a municipal recycling center on John Street and a Public Works dumping and storage facility on North Turnpike Road, according to Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr.

Dickinson said the town plans to respond to the June 13 notice of violation from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection by the end of the week to comply with the department’s orders. The town violated state environmental laws and regulations by improperly disposing of residential waste oil at the 157 John St. facility, while Public Works was cited for illegal dumping on the 91 N. Turnpike Road property.

According to the DEEP, a letter of compliance must be submitted no later than 30 days from when the notice of violation was issued. On Friday, Dickinson said he did not believe the compliance letter had been sent to DEEP yet.

“The communication from DEEP is still being reviewed,” Dickinson said.

Civil penalties of up to $25,000 may be assessed for each day the town was knowingly in violation of DEEP standards, although the town’s response “may affect DEEP’s decision whether or not to pursue a formal enforcement action,” according to the notice of violation.

The notice advises the town that the local violations “can reasonably be expected to create a source of pollution to the waters of the state, by a release of used oil and other solid waste to the ground.”

Asked if the town will contest any of the violations, Dickinson said “at this point, it’s being reviewed.”

“A determination will be made,” he said Friday. “Nothing has been totally decided as of yet.

“We’re looking to comply with most of it as far as I know.”

Eight of the violations stem from the town’s recycling center and how used oil was recycled at the facility. The town contracts with Fabio Enterprises of Old Colony Road to run the recycling center. Violations vary, from the lack of a “used oil” sign, to the failure to provide a spill containment area, or failing to ensure no person other than an employee of the facility, or a person under direct supervision of an employee, pours used oil into the collection tank.

On May 15, Laurene Buckowski, a sanitary engineer at DEEP, visited the town to investigate any possible violations. She was escorted by Public Works Foreman Stephen Palermo. According to an interoffice memo between Buckowski and DEEP Supervising Environmental Analyst Frank Gagliardo, Buckowski said there was about 10 gallons of an oily black liquid in the oil recycling containment area. Buckowski states in the memo that Palermo said the area would be closed, cleaned out and renovated due to violations.

Dickinson reported during the June 11 Town Council meeting that, due to improper disposal practices, oil recycling would no longer be available to residents. At the time, Dickinson said residents were disposing of liquids other than oil, such as antifreeze, and that the service would be discontinued because an employee of the facility could not constantly oversee it. He did not mention the environmental violations.

“It makes me wonder why the mayor would say the reason we shut it down is because of the wrong liquids,” said Democratic Town Councilor Jason Zandri, who is opposing Dickinson, a Republican, in the upcoming mayoral election.

If Dickinson wasn’t being forthcoming during the June Town Council, “I would not be very happy, as a councilor or a resident,” said Democratic Town Councilor John Sullivan.“That is extremely serious to me. I’d be disappointed in Mayor Dickinson if he did that.”

Republican Town Councilor John LeTourneau said the issues at 91 N. Turnpike Road, known as the “dog pit,” need to be kept separate from the issues at the recycling center. LeTourneau said he was surprised the department only handed out nine violations in total because of past experiences with the department and how “they have to go by the books.”

DEEP officials familiar with the violations in Wallingford were not available for comment, a spokesperson said.

Concerns about practices at 91 N. Turnpike Road date back 20 years. In 1993, Town Environmental Planner Brent Smith issued a cease and desist order to Public Works Director Henry McCully, asking him to stop all expansion activities at the site. According to a letter from Smith to McCully on May 12, 1993, the order was issued because in March of that year McCully came before the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission and said expansion at the site would stop. Between March and May of that year, Smith wrote that commissioners observed further activity at the site.

“If private citizens are obligated to abide by state and municipal environmental legislation, should the town itself be any different?” Smith wrote.

In 2008, the Department of Environmental Protection investigated the site after receiving a complaint that catch basin clean out waste was being dumped there, according to a March 3, 2009 department memo. The memo states that McCully was made aware of the issues, and that he would address the problem with the local wetlands commission. The DEP found McCully’s response adequate and closed the investigation.

The current violations at 91 North Turnpike Road stem from a complaint by local resident William Comerford, who noticed large pools of oily liquid at the site on April 8 and reported it to Environmental Planner Erin O’Hare. Comerford took video of what he found. On April 10, Comerford contacted the DEEP. Donnell Thigpen, of the department’s emergency response unit, visited the site that day and filed an “emergency incident field report.” He said an investigation of the area revealed “soil in the storage area that had a petroleum odor, it appeared that the pile was not covered immediately, causing the liquids to migrate around the area.”

O’Hare and McCully then arrived on scene, Thigpen said, adding that McCully had hay bales put around the release to prevent any spread. McCully could not be reached for comment.

On Friday, O’Hare said her jurisdiction, as well the jurisdiction of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, is 50 feet outside of wetlands. The release, as O’Hare characterized the dumped material, came within 47 feet of her jurisdiction. “It’s very serious,” she said. O’Hare said she is investigating the incident on her own, and will share a report during the July 24 wetlands commission meeting. At this point, “I don’t see any contamination to the wetlands,” she said.

According to the DEEP’s notice, a violation was handed out in regard to dumping at the “dog pit” because more than 10 cubic yards of oily waste or catch basin material were stored at the site without proper permits.

O’Hare said she would approach her investigation with due diligence.

“I would get to the bottom of it no matter what department is involved,” she said.

Democratic Town Councilor Nick Economopoulos said Friday that a fair investigation isn’t possible within the town.

People in town positions shouldn’t be investigating people in town positions, he said. “The town should not self-investigate.”

LeTourneau said he expects O’Hare to be honest, and hopes her investigation doesn’t just scratch the surface, “because you have people’s reputations at stake.”

The Planning and Zoning Department was also briefly involved with the situation at 91 N. Turnpike Road because the area is in a protected aquifer zone, and the department oversees aquifers. The town was ordered by DEEP to cease dumping at the site, so the department is no longer involved, according to Town Planner Kacie Costello. Materials must now be shipped to the proper facility by an outside contractor.

From now on, “you really shouldn’t be dumping anything there,” Zandri said. “There has to be a better location to temporally maintain those materials until carted off.”

Republican Town Councilor Tom Laffin said the facility does not need to be totally abandoned “if you watch it and you’re careful.”

Councilors agreed that if necessary the party responsible for the violation should be punished. But punishment, they said, should depend on whether the violations were malicious or not as determined by the Personnel Department.

Republican Town Councilor Craig Fishbein questioned whether the investigation by O’Hare was necessary.

“Certainly it makes things tricky,” he said of a town employee investigating another town department.

Going forward, O’Hare said she will establish town regulations for what can and cannot be placed at 91 N. Turnpike Road.

Economopoulos said that within the next few months he plans to put the topic of illegal dumping on the Town Council agenda to address the “attitude of disrespect to the taxpayer, to the environment and to authority.”

“If you don’t answer to those things,” he said, “who do you answer to?”