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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Developer withdraws controversial quarry proposal for Ledyard historic site

    Ledyard ― Gales Ferry Intermodal LLC has withdrawn its application to create a quarry operation at Mount Decatur, and a Thursday public hearing on the proposal that drew a phalanx of criticism over the past few months has been canceled.

    An attorney for Cashman Dredging & Marine Contracting Co. of Quincy, Mass., the parent company of Gales Ferry Intermodal, filed a notice Tuesday with the town informing the Planning & Zoning Commission of its decision. No explanation was offered, nor was there any indication whether the application might be amended and resubmitted.

    Harry B. Heller, lead attorney on the application, simply wrote in a letter dated Tuesday, Feb. 6, that he was withdrawing from consideration “the Special Permit, Site Plan and Coastal Site Plan Applications currently pending before the Town of Ledyard Planning and Zoning Commission for the extraction and processing of earth product and stone” at the former Dow Chemical property off Route 12.

    Town Planner Juliet Hodge said Wednesday morning that she is unsure whether Gales Ferry Intermodal would be refiling another application for the site or what that would look like. She added, however, that if the company does refile the whole public hearing process would have to start over.

    David Tranchida, a spokesman for Gales Ferry Intermodal, said the group decided to pull its application to look at various concerns expressed by nearby residents as well as recent questions from the town planner to try to determine what the company’s next steps might be. He said he couldn’t give more specifics until a final decision has been made, and calls to a GFI principal went unreturned.

    Virginia Beall, who lives nearby and opposes the project, said Wednesday that she believes the applicant rescinded the project because it was becoming clear it would be denied. She is hoping that if Gales Ferry Intermodal submits a new plan, it will involve the site’s use as a transportation hub or a light industrial area.

    “I’m opposed to the idea economic development takes precedence in this town over quality of life,” Beall said.

    Over the course of three public hearings during the past several weeks, the quarry proposal has been criticized for its possible effect on the neighborhood, including worries over the health effects of silica dust being released to the atmosphere, as well as concerns about blasting, increased truck traffic, loss of bird habitat and the degradation of Mount Decatur, which is the site of a historic War of 1812-era fort.

    Dozens of residents and local groups have opposed the application, while only one person, who lives in another town, expressed support.

    Gales Ferry Intermodal had pointed to another quarry operation in town that received approval in recent months as proof that the proposed project could live comfortably within a neighborhood setting. The company also had promised to leave intact the portion of Mount Decatur that contains historic significance.

    Beall, who is on a citizens group called the Dow Community Advisory Panel, said she would like Gales Ferry Intermodal to take neighborhood concerns seriously, as Dow Chemical did in the past when its officials met regularly with locals. But she says the panel has been much less active recently after Dow sold the property, initially leaving Americas Styrenics as the main operation on site.

    Beall said she is concerned that another proposal for the site might not be much better than the last without citizen input.

    “We’ll have to see what happens,” she said.


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