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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Developers withdraw concrete plant proposal for Waterford Airport site

    Waterford – The most recent plan to develop the former Waterford Airport property never really got off the ground.

    Concrete product manufacturer Fabcon Precast has withdrawn its application to develop the property into a concrete plant, Planning Director Abby Piersall said during Monday's Planning & Zoning Commission meeting. The meeting was being held so the commission could accept, deny, or continue to examine Fabcon's application for a special permit and site plan approval following months of consideration and some public opposition to the facility proposed for 140 Waterford Parkway South.

    "Earlier today, the Planning & Zoning Commission received a letter from Fabcon ... asking formally to withdraw the application without prejudice," Piersall said. "The commission's option tonight would be to accept that withdrawal letter and that would close the Fabcon project at this location."

    Commission Chairman Joe Bunkley said he was sorry to hear of Fabcon's decision. He asked the company's CFO Mark Pederson, who was at the meeting, if he had anything to say.

    "I just appreciate all the work the town put in on this," Pederson said. "As I told a couple of you earlier, we've got another option here that we're pursuing at this time."

    In September, Pederson addressed how the company scoped out the Waterford property for development.

    "We're interested in opening a new plant somewhere in the New England market," Pederson said. "When you start looking around at sites that are big enough to accommodate our needs, it was hard to find an appropriate site. The airport site happened to fit."

    Since it opened its first plant in 1971, Fabcon has steadily expanded its operations. The company now has plants in Minnesota, Ohio, Kansas and Pennsylvania. Fabcon did not disclose the details of its deal — now moot — to purchase the property from owner Mathon Fund I LLC, except to say the agreement was contingent on the town approving the development.

    Bunkley thanked commissioners and Planning Department staff for their efforts in reviewing Fabcon's application.

    "Unfortunately, it didn't pan out for us, and I'm a little disappointed in it, but we will move on," Bunkley said.

    In multiple public hearings preceding Monday's meeting, members of the nearby Beechwood Estates Homeowners Association, a senior community of 40 homes at 168 Parkway South, voiced their opposition to the proposed development. A letter from Beechwood Board of Directors President Victor Ferry outlined the residents' misgivings, including truck traffic passing close to residences late into the night, worsening the already poor condition of Parkway South and threatening pedestrians.

    "Beechwood Estates residents have an aggregate investment valued at approximately $12,000,000 for homes, sans outlying property, and approval of the Fabcon proposal is likely to negatively impact property values and quality of life issues," Ferry wrote in the letter. "Surely, with all factors considered, Waterford can do better in attracting a use for the former airport property than the current proposal."

    The commission discussed the concerns at length in a November meeting, and then tabled a decision on the application until Monday's meeting.

    Residents also raised concerns about concrete's contribution to climate change and how the town's water supply could be affected by a concrete plant.

    At 188 acres, the airport property value is currently about $4.3 million, according to the town's tax assessor's office. Some in Waterford are unaware the town was home to an airport from 1945 to 1987. Its three runways were destroyed decades ago. Now, the property is mostly a wooded area with overgrown vegetation and some litter. Fabcon is the latest in a long list of entities who have unsuccessfully sought to develop the property since 1987.


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