NEW HAVEN — The public had its say here April 7 as the town of New Haven’s Planning Board listened to a dozen residents express their dismay over the potential approval of a proposed cement plant in their midst.
Andrew Merriam, of Darrow Road, lives diagonally across the street from the site of Jason Simmons’ proposed plant. Like many in opposition to the plant, Merriam objected to its construction prior to Planning Board approval. He was the first to speak.
“I’ve been an architect for 14 years,” he said. “I have never seen the blatant disregard that Mr. Simmons and Circle T have done to the town process. He’s completely erected this thing without anything put in place, and I can tell you, without a doubt in my mind, that any other jurisdiction in the state of New York would immediately deny this based on what he has done to date.”
Leon (no last name given) voiced a similar objection along with another commonly heard complaint: noise.
“It’s just the noise and going from daylight ’til dark with the dumping and the tailgates and the backup beepers from daylight ’til dark, that’s terrible,” he said. “I have to stay in a lot. I got COPD and asthma, so even in my house, it drives you nuts. It’s all uncalled for, especially, if they’ve got no right to even be there. I mean, nobody had an opportunity to turn this down. They just went ahead and built the damn thing. Nobody else can do that. I don’t understand how come one person can, and nobody else can do what they want to do.”
Roger Aubertine stood to object to the plant’s trucks and their potential for damage to the road. He ended with a completely unsubstantiated allegation.
Holly (no last name given) expressed what many others have said: that they can’t do, or haven’t been allowed to do, anything even barely close in size and scope to what Simmons has done.
“I can’t tell you,” she said, “when I moved back here, and we put a trailer on the lot, what a hard time it was that they gave us for putting a single-wide on that lot.”
Debbie (no last name given) reiterated Holly’s sentiment in her own words.
“I keep saying,” she said, “it’s time for me to build a pole barn because I don’t need permits, and I can just do what I want. Is that the way it works? We can’t do it one way for the little people and this guy gets away with everything.”
Nick (no last name given) concurred.
“We wouldn’t be allowed to do this stuff, put up a barn or anything. I know people who had to tear up their concrete pads because they didn’t have it inspected before they poured it, or got a permit, or whatever the case may be. There’s several different ones I know about. It’s just not fair.”
He went on to also predict the effect of cement trucks on Darrow Road’s future.
“We’ll give it one month,” he said, “and that road will be done.”
Mark (no last name given) added a more scientific appraisal of that situation.
“I am not a licensed engineer,” he said, “but I have talked to a materials engineer that states, ‘Given the vehicles mentioned by Mr. Simmons in some of the documentation, at least 10 inches of asphalt would be needed on Darrow Road to withstand the heavy loads. We currently have approximately three inches of asphalt.”
Cindy Konu, who lives two houses north of the plant, spoke of potential future concerns.
“The town has admitted that they do not have the means to prevent this type of development,” she said. “While local laws would disagree, this would imply that the town also does not have the means to regulate this type of development. This is a huge concern for our residents, as it would mean that there will be no stopping the applicant from future expansions or potential impacts to the neighborhood, road, or the town character in the future.”
The town of New Haven has no zoning ordinance but is in the process of creating one. Some have called for the Planning Board to delay its decision on the cement plant until that ordinance is in effect.
Jason Simmons has said he is saddened by the level of unexpected criticism he and this plant have received and that he would welcome calm, respectful conversations with his neighbors. Oswego City Attorney Kevin Caraccioli reiterated those sentiments for the public.
“If you have any questions,” he said, “Mr. Simmons and his company are more than welcome to entertain any of those questions. He invites anybody with their permission and advance knowledge to come on the property. He’ll show you around. There is nothing to hide here folks. He will show you around, proud of the product that is going to be produced at this location, very proud of it. And we look forward to the next set of meetings and hopefully a final decision sooner than later.”
Regarding future meetings, the board set a work session (open to the public) for 6 p.m. April 28 and a meeting for 6 p.m. May 6. A second public hearing on the entire issue of the Simmons’ cement plant will be held on an as-yet-undesignated date.