Tilcon, one of Connecticut's largest quarrying & paving companies, is lobbying to change the state of Connecticut legislated protections for our watershed lands to quarry 131.4 acres of the New Britain watershed over a 40 year period. If approved, the change would drastically weaken the protection for all of Connecticut's watershed lands that supply our drinking water.
Citizens are taking a stand against this land-grab by a corporate giant who stands to gain at the expense of our forested watershed land, our open space, and our clean water supply. Below is a diagram of Tilcon's plan.
Tilcon and the Stewart Administration in the City of New Britain are proposing to enter into a 40-year lease agreement to allow Tilcon to quarry 131.4 acres of watershed protected land. The quarrying would only be allowed through an exception to an existing state law that protects all of Connecticut watersheds. This legislative change would affect the entire state of Connecticut.
Typically, exceptions to the state law within watersheds are allowed for minor land use changes, for example, for capital improvements to water filter plants. However, the legal exception proposed by New Britain and Tilcon is not a minor change. They plan to change the land-use zoning from protected watershed property to high industrial. High Industrial zoning in our watershed land? This is no minor change.
Quarrying is the most intrusive and permanent landscape change imaginable. During the proposal's 40-year lease period, Tilcon will entirely remove much of the eastern portion of Bradley Mountain. Bradley Mountain is a popular hiking spot along the Metacomet Trail and is part of the New England National Scenic Trail. This trail is best known for its expansive views along the ridgeline onto Crescent Lake, a very popular public fishing and boating destination. Under this plan, the mountain would be cut down several hundred feet for removal of trap rock used as crushed rock in roadway and other construction projects.
Most critically, Bradley Mountain and its soil, forest, and fauna are an important element of the watershed to filter rain water and snow melt that replenish the reservoir and underground aquifers. The forest and fauna also provides carbon reduction and valuable wildlife habitat.
THIS PLAN IS NOT NEW
This plan was already attempted once in 2007 by former New Britain mayor Tim Stewart who supported it. Now again in 2016, Tilcon, New Britain, Plainville and Southington are pushing this through the Connecticut Public Health Committee. In 2007 the lease arrangement was for Tilcon to pay New Britain $15M. But what is the cost of irreplaceable watershed land today? The Stewart Administration has not yet revealed it. Make no mistake, Tilcon is no longer Tomasso Quarry, a locally owned business. Since 1996, Tilcon is owned by a building material conglomerate controlling the top third of the industry, found in 31 countries, called called CRH Group.
In early June of 2016 Governor Malloy signed the Bill 300, now Public Act No. 16-61, allowing an environmental study of the impacts of Tilcon's proposal.
VIEW THE BILL HERE:
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS DEAL?
1) First, it's prohibited under current law. Tilcon and New Britain are seeking an exception to existing laws that protect all of Connecticut's watersheds. And exceptions can make laws meaningless. If this deal gets passed, all protected Watershed property in the State of Connecticut will be jeopardized when other business opportunities come along. Changing the law and making exceptions result in the erosion of the public health, safety and welfare of our citizens, and our right to clean water.
2) Second, it's a land-use conflict Connecticut is the 4th most densely populated state in the country. The quarrying of traprock ridges in Connecticut is no longer compatible with its land uses. Specifically, the zoning of this particular area will change from protected *Watershed Land* to *High Industrial* which is incompatible with surrounding residential and open space land uses. This area is a widely popular recreation area for boating, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, picnicking, snowshoeing, and bow hunting. The folks who live near the quarry, both in New Britain and in Plainville are already putting up with cracked foundations due to vibrations and explosives, poor air quality due to crushing, lower well water levels due to well-water extraction, and the removal of the natural areas around them as the quarry drills, blasts, loads, hauls, crushes and screens the quarry material. All these land uses would be adversely affected with Tilcon's plan.
3) Third, it's an environmental justice issue. Twenty three percent of New Britain's population lives below the poverty line. The per capita income of New Britain is at $20,000 - about half that of the state's. This would not be happening in West Hartford or Greenwich. Our environmental laws can not be for sale, particularly in those locations where people are most vulnerable to economic and environmental exploitation. When we make exceptions to environmental protection laws, citizens lose.