OLD LYME — The special permit application for the proposed pump station at 73 Portland Avenue proceeded fairly quickly through a Zoning Commission public hearing Tuesday.
The pump station will be the “central collection and discharge point for the wastewater generated in the participating Old Lyme beach areas. The station will convey flow through approximately 16,000 feet of proposed force mains to an existing sewer manhole at 275 West Main Street in East Lyme, about 1,900 feet east of the town line at Four Mile River,” according to the special permit application prepared by Fuss & O’Neill, dated September 6 and amended October 1.
Scott and Kathleen Boulanger, who live in Colchester and own property in the Miami Beach Association, are the owners of the .12-acre site and received approval for a variance for the project from the Zoning Board of Appeals in July.
The site is partially located in the VE Zone, a coastal high hazard area subject to storm-induced velocity wave action, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The pump station, estimated to cost $800,000 in Fuss & O’Neill’s report, will consist of two underground submersible pumps that will operate “within an underground enclosure, submerged in the wet well wastewater, and will therefore operate silently,” according to the report.
The operating life of the mechanical equipment will be designed to last 20 years. The critical equipment will be protected against flooding damage up to a height of 16.5 feet, which is the 500-year flood elevation. The 100-year flood elevation is 13 feet.
A nearby building on the site will house the “emergency backup generator, power, controls and related critical equipment will be located,” according to the report. The generator, fueled by liquid propane, will provide backup power during power failures and will be able to run for 48 hours at peak flow and for 96 hours at normal flow. The project includes a buried 1,000-gallon propane tank.
The building, designed by TLB Architecture LLC of Chester to be “a non-descript,” is “a narrow and tall structure, the scale of which is different from most structures in the architecturally eclectic neighborhood,” states the report.
Generator noise, the security of the propane fuel and plans for fire suppression were among the concerns raised by Jane Cable, chair of the commission.
“As far as noise controls, the pumps will operate in underground enclosures submerged in the wet well, so they’ll operate silently,” explained James Otis, an engineer from Fuss and O’Neill. “The emergency generator will be enclosed in a building [equipped with] acoustical drywall, wall and doors as best practice and generally equipped with a hospital grade noise suppression system.”
Propane generators are “generally quieter and cleaner” than other fuel-types such as diesel, he said. “So, we think we’ve done done everything that can be done to minimize the noise.”
The access cap to the liquid propane tank will be located halfway up the stairs of the building. “It’s pretty secure,” Otis said, adding that other measures to discourage trespassing and parking on the site will be implemented.
In terms of fire suppression, an existing fire hydrant is located directly in front of the site, he said.
Resident Lawrence Osowiecki, who lives in the Miami Beach Association area, expressed concern that the town had already decided on a pump station location on town land at 72 Portland Ave. The town’s website, has several documents showing 72 Portland Ave. as the pump station site.
However, the town did not apply for a special permit for 72 Portland Ave., said Cable. “This is the only application that has come to us,” she said.
With no further public comment, the commission voted unanimously to close the public hearing. No discussion followed. The matter will be placed on the agenda of the Zoning Commission’s November 12 meeting.