Yielding To Opposition, New Britain Kills Controversial Rock Quarry Expansion | Connecticut Public Radio

Yielding To Opposition, New Britain Kills Controversial Rock Quarry Expansion

Aug 23, 2018

A proposal from the city of New Britain to convert a large, protected watershed into a rock quarry for the mining company Tilcon has been withdrawn.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart submitted a letter to the state Water Planning Council Wednesday, backing off the idea.

The move comes following a city-sponsored study examining both the project’s feasibility and need.

As Connecticut Public Radio reported this summer, state officials, environmentalists, and legislators found both lacking.

“We agree with many of the interested parties that the Lenard study and the public have raised several issues which would necessitate further review before any such project could move forward,” Stewart wrote. “Given the increased cost to the City of that additional due diligence, the time it would require and the depth of opposition to the proposal as a result of these unanswered questions, I have concluded that the most prudent course of action at this time would be withdrawal of the proposal from further consideration.”

Previously, Stewart had advocated in support of the project, telling legislators in 2016, “I believe the risk is worth the reward.”

Tilcon was hoping to blast into dozens of acres of protected watershed owned by New Britain, saying its current mine, which is visible off the I-84 corridor in Plainville, was running out of trap rock.

In exchange, the company proposed donating acres of open space to three towns and said decades from now, it would convert part of that expanded mine into a reservoir capable of storing about 2.3 billion gallons of water.

But in May, the state Water Planning Council said the city-commissioned study was essentially inventing numbers in support of the idea.

Tilcon has proposed the quarry expansion idea before, about a decade ago under the administration of then-Mayor Tim Stewart, Erin Stewart’s father.

Tilcon President Gary Wall wrote Wednesday he agreed with Mayor Erin Stewart’s decision to withdraw the proposal. But he also extended an invitation for future talks. In an Aug. 22 letter to the Mayor he wrote, “in the future, should policymakers express an interest in revisiting this proposal or others that would benefit the public, we would be happy to engage in discussions.”

“It’s unfortunate that many issues quickly clouded any ability to have objective discussions about this proposal,” Stewart said in a statement. “This is a serious issue; one day, I sincerely hope our elected leaders will take responsibility for addressing the long-term water needs of our region.”