Propane storage facility debate burns on in North Branford

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NORTH BRANFORD - For two years, North Branford residents have fought a proposal that would bring a propane storage facility to an industrial park that is surrounded by hundreds of homes.

That fight, against a facility that would house two 30,000 gallon propane tanks, continued on Thursday night at a public hearing at North Branford High School

Residents opposed to this propane storage facility have created a website and among the information on the site is a note that says an explosion at a propane facility of this size would have a blast radius of a mile, which could impact hundreds of nearby homes and businesses.

"I don't think that they are really considering, you know we got other, a lot of houses around here," said David Candela, who lives in a home that borders the proposed site on Ciro Road.

"Those things, they say they are not dangerous but they are," said Sam Troiano, who once farmed 84 acres, that include s the empty lot where the JJ Sullivan Fuel Oil Company of Guilford wants to put the propane tanks.

"A few years ago, there was that explosion down in Florida," said Candela. "I don't think it ended well for those guys."

Understandably, many business owners in the area, who might soon be neighbors of this new propane storage facility, wished to remain anonymous when sharing their concerns.

One big issue for businesses nearby -  the cost to insure their businesses, which would likely skyrocket.

"I've had insurance agents come to my business to give me a quote and then never come back," said one business owner.

Another issue is how these twin 30,000 gallon propane tanks would be vented. Some business owners wondered how much of it is escaping and what the smell would be like with the exhaust.

"Is it gonna wind up lying in low-lying areas and be any kind of threat?" one owner asked.

A nearby resident, again asking not to be identified, said she would feel stuck if the deal goes through.

"The house value is not going to be what it was, I'm sure," she said. "Taxes are going to go up. There's no doubt about that."

Thursday's public hearing, conducted by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, focused only on potential wetlands concerns for the proposed site. DEEP said they are recommending approval of the application because the facility would have no adverse impact on the wetlands in the area.

During public comment, residents raised concerns about the process. They say this local issue should never have gone to a state department.

Several residents also stated the application itself is flawed because the timeline has expired at the local level and it is different than the one originally presented to the North Branford Inlands Wetlands Department.

"The law is pretty clear that if the application goes to the state it has to be the same application," said Chris Kranick, a North Branford resident who lives about a mile from the proposed facility.

Kranick said, "I'm as hopeful as I've ever been in this process in the last two years that the two fatal flaws that we raise tonight in front of DEEP for this application are so well founded."

The North Branford Zoning Enforcement Officer says it could take a year or more before a final decision is made.