By Joan Smith, GOSA Board Member

GROTON — The Inland Wetlands Agency unanimously denied June 11, 2008, an application by Konover Development Corp. to make changes in a previously approved plan to build a Wal-Mart Super Center in the watershed of the Groton Utilities drinking water reservoir.

Konover had characterized its application as being for minor changes to a plan with minor potential impact. Many members of the panel had made it clear they felt this description did not fit the application.

Voting against the project were Eunice Sutphen, who was acting as chairman in the absence of Chairman David Scott, Barbara Block, Robert Ashworth and Mary Ellen Furlong.

In explaining its decision, the agency said it found “that there will be very limited infiltration, if any, of stormwater due to the soil conditions on the site and that there will be inadequate pollutant removal prior to the discharge of the stormwater to the wetlands as a result.”

During the discussion that preceded the vote, Ms. Furlong said that this is a large and complex project, and it is better to deny it and have Konover come back with a full and better plan. She said the applicant should have submitted a full list of the changes proposed in the application. Konover’s narrative did refer to proposed changes in a stone wall, but these were insigificant, she said. What are important are changes in water flows caused by the proposed plan alterations, Ms. Furlong said.

Mr. Ashcroft said, “The infiltrators in the first plan were changed in the second. The discharge to the wetlands has changed the whole system … We did not see all this change when the application was presented to us. I would have to deny the current application…there is no longer infiltration, just a holding device–no guarantee that it will improve the water.”

Barbara Block asked if the proposed changes would make the original plan better.

Deborah Jones, the town’s environmental planner, advised the panel that “changes under your jurisdiction require your approval,” and that the panel could look at impacts beyond the “traditional” regulated area.

The decision doesn’t affect the IWA’s previous approval of Konover’s original plan. However, the original plan has been denied by the Planning Commission, and the denial has been upheld by the New London Superior Court.