RICHARD BLUMENTHAL – Will monitor compliance

Several homeowners on Montville’s Podrugiel Lane will have their houses connected to the town water supply after a failed dam and retaining wall separating the homes from construction on a new shopping center caused mud to slide down their backyards and contaminate their wells.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal – who two weeks ago won an injunction to stop construction on the project, known as Montville Commons – along with Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy reached an agreement last week that will allow construction to resume once the embankment between the homes and the shopping center is stabilized and a permit for the embankment is secured. The companies constructing the shopping center were not granted a permit for the dam, which failed during the heavy rains a few weeks ago.

“The agreement allows construction only when safety is assured for neighboring homes and provides for securing the slope and repairing the damage,” Blumenthal said in a prepared statement. “Job number one is to stabilize the embankment and correct all structural problems. The agreement holds the developers and owners accountable to make any necessary emergency repairs and fix neighbors’ property. Homeowners will be connected to the town water supply and have mud and muck removed from their property. To resume building, the developers and owners must ensure the physical integrity of the site.

“My office, working with DEP, will closely monitor compliance with this agreement to assure that residents are kept safe and that the environment is protected.”

The agreement prohibits the owners and builders of Montville Commons, which will include a Home Depot, from doing any work until engineers inspect the site and assure its safety. The owners and builders – which include Home Depot USA, property owner Second Family LLC and construction firms Manafort Bros., Antrim Development and Nittany Construction – must make emergency repairs and pay to connect 18 homes to the municipal water system.

The owners and builders must also submit to the DEP an engineer’s plan that assesses and assures the “integrity and adequacy of the earthen dam, slope, spillways and detention basis” and outlines any steps needed to stabilize and improve them and remove all sediment from the affected properties.

“Working with the Attorney General’s Office, we are taking important steps to resolve the dangers raised by this construction project,” McCarthy said in a prepared statement. “That is certainly good news for those who live near this site and for our environment. But there are also critical lessons to be learned from this experience.

“Developers must fully assess proposed construction sites when preparing their plans, and they must obtain all local and state permits before they start work. If developers do their homework up front, we will not be forced to respond to emergencies later on. People have every right to expect that a development project will not have unintended consequences that threaten the health or safety of the public or the quality of our environment.”

A call to Manafort Bros. was not returned by press time.