A monstrous 76-bay distribution center in the Hawleyville section of Newtown is being evaluated as a Special Exception under Newtown’s M-2A zone. Because there is general confusion about what these designations mean, I researched Newtown’s zoning regulations and here is what I found.

General M-2A zone: “The purpose and intent of the M-2A Zone is to provide for significant economic development activities without adversely impacting the basic character of the surrounding neighborhoods or overburdening the natural or built environment.”

Comment: I do not see how this enormous facility with its increased traffic, noise and air pollution, would not adversely impact the surrounding neighborhoods or overburden our local infrastructure (roads).

Special Exception Uses specified for Distribution Center, Warehouse or Wholesale Business:


11.01.421: “The location type, character and size of the use, and of any building or other structure shall be in harmony with the appropriate and orderly development of the town and the neighborhood, and will not hinder or discourage the appropriate development and use of adjacent property.”

Comment: The size of the use is what is unacceptable here. I do not object to development at this particular site BUT it should be of a size that does not create a multitude of problems for residents and the town. In addition to the obvious issues of traffic and pollution, little has been said about the ultimate costs to the town — increased police and fire services and increased road maintenance for secondary roads as queueing mega-trucks wait to access the facility.

11.01.423: “The proposed use shall not depreciate adjacent property values.”

Comment: Common sense tells you that property values in the area are bound to decline (or at least not increase relative to other areas) with the construction of this sprawling project. Who wants to buy a house where the congestion makes it difficult to even get to that house?

11.01.427 Second sentence. “Adequate provision shall be made for entering and leaving the subject site in such a manner that no undue traffic hazard to traffic or undue traffic congestion shall be created.”

Comment: The scope of this project tells you that trucks will not always be able to enter the site as they arrive and will be forced to circle around area roads creating congestion and hazards to local drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

11.01.500 section (d) Public health, safety and welfare.

Comment: The American Lung Association has reported that “Fairfield County has some of the most polluted air in America. It also has the highest ozone reading in the eastern United States.” How can adding a large number of mega-trucks do anything but make things worse?
Residents will certainly be at a higher risk for asthma and other respiratory and cardiac diseases.

Thus I cannot see how any member of Newtown’s Planning and Zoning Commission could vote for this project. I have to trust that this project will be evaluated in light of the commission’s own very good and specific regulations, together with common sense and a desire to do the right thing for the town.

Mary Gaudet-Wilson is former chair of the Newtown Conservation Commission, founder of Protect Our Pollinators and board member of the Pollinator Pathway. She has lived in Newtown for more than 50 years and has degrees in education, chemistry and an MBA.

https://www.newstimes.com/opinion/article/Opinion-Warehouse-plan-unfit-for-Newtown-17152875.php