OLD LYME – A cease-and-desist order will be issued to the owner of a Mile Creek Road gravel pit where prohibited activities such as trucking in and stockpiling of materials with inadequate erosion protection have apparently been ongoing over the past two years, the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission voted unanimously this week.
The owner, Eastport South LLC, part of a commercial development company with an office in town, also has refused several requests from town officials to inspect the 43-acre property off Shore Road, said commission Chairman Rachael Gaudio.
“Obviously, the owner is not respecting our jurisdiction over the property,” Gaudio said at the Tuesday meeting, noting that the town’s land use officer was denied access after issuing letters of violation in March and April. “They have refused entry to us three times, which is alarming to me.”
The 308-1 Mile Creek Road site — bordering wetlands and the Three Mile River — was a long-dormant gravel pit “grandfathered” with a permit issued every two years to allow material to continue to be removed, but not trucked in or processed.
Neighbors of the site told the commission that over the past two years there has been a steady increase in activity there.
“They started working the property big time,” Shore Road resident Peter Caron said at the Tuesday meeting, noting that he has seen truckloads of asphalt, cinder blocks and construction debris being brought in and stored in piles perhaps 20 feet high and about ten feet from the river without adequate erosion or sedimentation barriers.
Gaudio said the work at the site “seems completely outside the scope of their permit,” to remove gravel.
The long gravel entrance to the pit, adjacent to Union Chapel, is fenced with a “Private Property” sign.
In letters sent to the company this spring, former town Land Use Administrator Dan Bourret wrote that “observations made from an adjoining property appear to support this information” about prohibited activities being conducted there.
Caron said in a written complaint that “My concerns are that there seems to be a total disregard for polluting the river, which at this point is about a half-mile from Long Island Sound” and is inhabited by wildlife such as osprey and heron.
There is also a 5,000-gallon fuel tank on the property, he said, which he worries may be leaking.
Caron said he approached the owners last December, and “was told I should mind my own business.”
Commission member Gary Gregory said he has witnessed numerous “dumpster trucks” entering the site.
“That’s a red flag if they won’t let you in there,” Gregory added.
The cease-and-desist order was to be issued Friday, mandating the immediate halt of any prohibited work at the site.
Penalties for non-compliance include fines of up to $100 a day. Gaudio said if the company ignores the order, it is likely the town would file a lawsuit against it.
“This is eventually going to wind up in court if they don’t comply,” Gaudio said, noting that the Board of Selectmen and Planning and Zoning Commission may also become involved due to overlapping issues with those boards.
An attempt by CT Examiner to contact Eastport South LLC for comment was not successful.
“To allow an operation like this to carry on without strict compliance to protective measures in such an environmentally fragile area is not only risking an environmental tragedy,” Caron said in his written complaint, “it’s unfair to the businesses that are complying with regulations and are in the same competitive market.”