Wetlands Agency Approves Sandy Hook School Project

Inland Wetlands Commission (IWC) members have approved a wetlands/watercourses protection permit for the proposed new Sandy Hook Elementary School at 12 Dickinson Drive.

The new school would replace the former Sandy Hook School, which the town demolished last year following the December 2012 massacre there.

IWC members unanimously approved the permit at a special meeting on Monday, July 28.

Before the IWC’s approval, IWC member Anne Peters said, “a huge amount of energy and effort has gone into this application.”

The applicant of record for the project is the town’s Public Building and Site Commission (PBSC). PBSC Chairman Robert Mitchell attended the July 28 IWC session.

Ms Peters noted that at a July 9 IWC public hearing on the project, “We didn’t have a lot of feedback from the public.”

Four people attended that hearing, none of whom commented or asked any questions about the school project.

Ms Peters said that all pertinent details concerning wetlands and watercourses protection at the school site are clearly explained in the school application documents.

“The standards have been met,” she said.

“This is the most reasonable and prudent [construction] alternative,” she said of the plans provided by the applicant.

Although the construction will affect the site’s wetlands and watercourses, the planned mitigating site work would environmentally balance the project, she said.

“I feel we can approve this [application],” said IWC Chairman Mary Curran.

In approving the application, IWC members placed nine sets of conditions on their endorsement, which the applicant will need to meet.

Among those conditions: erosion and sedimentation controls must be installed before construction starts; any changes to development plans must be approved by the town before such changes occur; and the applicant must hire an environmental management consultant to implement the plans.

Overall, 13.5 acres of terrain would be modified at the Dickinson Drive site.

Earthmoving at the site would involve 32,000 cubic yards of cutting and 24,000 cubic yards of filling.

The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) is now scheduled to hold a public hearing on the zoning aspects of the school project on Thursday, July 31.

The proposed 87,160-square-foot school would have facilities for children from pre-kindergarten to grade 4 within 23 classrooms and other school facilities. There would be parking for 150 vehicles.

Svigals + Partners, a New Haven architectural firm, is the lead firm in presenting the application for town land use agency review.

The school construction project may start sometime this fall.

Last October, town voters approved spending more than $49 million in the form of a state grant designated for the demolition of the former school and the design and construction of the new school.

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