Resident calls for investigation as tree and shrubs removed at Pawcatuck pumping station

Stonington - A Pawcatuck resident has complained that the town's removal of trees and shrubs around the River Road sewer pumping station has revealed a spray-painted swastika, which now can be seen clearly from her home.

First Selectmen Ed Haberek said Wednesday night that he will make sure the swastika is removed immediately.

"Something that offensive to people can't stay up," he said.

Gail Shea said she and her husband noticed last week that the trees and shrubs had been removed. Until then, she said, they had taken "an edge off the ugliness" of the gray concrete structure that sits along the Pawcatuck River at the intersection of Mary Hall Road. She said that over the past 30 years, as the plantings grew, the view improved for residents and motorists.

In an email to Haberek, Water Pollution Control Authority Director Harold Storrs, who is set to retire this month, said he authorized the removal of a dead pine tree and some overgrown junipers that were blocking the walkway into the pumping station.

But Shea, who called the cutting a "despicable action against the neighborhood," said Storrs' characterization of the cutting is "grossly misleading" and minimizes what occurred.

"There is no evidence of any dead tree, there was more than one tree and the shrubs were quite large and mature," she wrote in her complaint to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Shea also questioned why no permit was obtained for the cutting, which is illegal in the RC-120 zone where the pumping station is located. She has asked the commission to investigate as quickly as possible as Storrs is about to retire. She said she wants to know what prompted the authorization of the cutting and if anyone requested iwt.

She is requesting that the town and WPCA clean up and restore the site to its original condition by planting attractive and mature trees and shrubs.

Haberek said he has received an email from Storrs who said the vegetation will be replaced with comparable shrubbery.

But Haberek said Shea would still like to proceed with her complaint. He said it now will be up to the Planning and Zoning Commission to decide what the final remedy should be.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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