Oct. 01--GLASTONBURY -- State legislators, in a harshly worded letter, have asked the state to reconsider a landscaping plan and noise study for a fuel cell plant along Hebron Avenue.
State Reps. Prasad Srinivasan and Mark Tweedie, both Republicans, and Democratic state Sen. Steve Cassano, whose districts include Glastobury, sent a letter to the Connecticut Siting Council Wednesday slamming the company building the plant.
The letter also asked the agency to accommodate the town's request for an extensive landscaping plan and noise study at the plant, currently under construction by UIL Holdings Corp., the parent company of United Illuminating. The siting council oversees power plants, telecommunications and other infrastructure facilities in Connecticut.
Although UIL developed a landscaping plan, the town in July drew up its own detailed plan to screen the facility, and requested a noise analysis around the site for 18 months.
"From the start and throughout the petition process, whether changing plans without approval, notifying abutters, being up front in sharing details of their plans or being willing to engage in meaningful dialogue with neighbors -- the inconsistencies, lack of due diligence and lack of transparency by [UIL Holdings Corp.] has raised questions and generated mistrust," the letter signed by the three legislators reads.
The letter notes UIL's "utter disregard for the formerly picturesque residential neighborhood they have invaded." The legislators also noted there is hope that UIL can "use this opportunty to build trust with the local community."
The legislators said they plan to hold a community forum in the coming weeks with town officials and residents. They have also invited officials from UIL and the siting council.
"Throughout this important energy project, we have attempted to work with the town in a collaborative manner and consider all input," Anthony Marone, senior vice president for customer and business services of UIL Holdings, said Wednesday.
"We believe that the approach approved by the Connecticut Siting Council regarding landscaping and project security will provide a reasonable balance to the concerns that have been raised," he said.
The plant, part of the state's Project 150 initiative aimed at increasing renewable energy supply in Connecticut, creates electricity using a natural gas distribution line. The electricity produced is fed into UI's power grid.
Many of the trees around the facility were cleared over the winter, exposing an industrial-looking 21-foot-high, 70-foot-long structure with pipes and exhaust chimneys sitting atop a 10-foot-high concrete foundation.
The town's landscaping plan was designed to "block, blend and buffer" the fuel cell complex. The plan called for the installation of 123 trees and 46 shrubs. The siting council supported UIL's plan to plant five trees along Hebron Avenue and 48 shrubs along the Chalker Hill Road side of the site.
The siting council also noted that any noise from the facility, which has not yet started operating, would not exceed state regulations. The plant would operate at 40 to 43 decibels, while the state limit is 51 decibels.
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