BRISTOL – A surety bond of $60,000 is being called by the Bristol Zoning Commission after a vote Tuesday night due to the nonstabilization of earth on a development site at Pine Street and Mitchell Street, east of Middle Street and west of Christopher Street.
The city intends to utilize the bond funding to pay for the erosion control of the site. All commissioners voted in agreement to call the bond after concerns were voiced that site developer John Senese, and his development company Calco Construction, had defaulted on its obligations as part of prearranged discussions. Officials said development site neighbors had been complaining about dust around their properties.
Surety bonds or cash bonds are placed as part of construction projects as a form of insurance in case a development does not go as planned when conversations occur with city officials and municipal permitting processes. Surety bond companies assume liability for a default or debt of an individual obligated to cover debts in such arrangements.
City officials said two original sites in question had been broken into five smaller parcels. Senese had worked with Calamar Enterprises in an earth removal project as part of a 128-unit apartment construction project. The earth removal was part of a special permit approved by the zoning commission in September 2018. The permit said applicants Calamar Enterprises and property owner John Senese of Calco Construction could engage in earth removal in excess of 1,500 cubic yards at the locations. The earth removal was to prepare the ground for structure construction.
Senese originally put in place an erosion control bond in July 2019 of $60,000. Land clearing of the construction site area began in September 2019 and ended in December 2019. Earth removal began in January 2020 with around 36,800 cubic yards removed from the area. The commission said this had not been independently confirmed however.
RM44 Holdings, LLC, a holding company for Calamar Enterprises, purchased lot one in the site, roughly 6.5 acres from John Senese on July 10, 2020, Commission Vice Chair Michael Massarelli said. Earth removal activities were completed near July 27, 2020. Assurances were given the construction of the apartment building was imminent. Since that time, no significant site work had occurred, said the vice chair.
City officials said erosion control notes called for specific grass seed mixtures to be placed on the land outside paved areas as well as topsoil and this had not happened. The Zoning Commission believed Calco had defaulted on its obligations in application 2287. City staff was directed to contact the Travelers Casualty and Surety Company regarding the $60,000 to rectify the commission’s concerns.
Bristol City Planner Robert Flanagan said the city wanted to see the project continue in Bristol, but with no progress having recently been made, city officials needed to see neighboring residential properties were also protected from excess dust and other earth stabilization issues. The city planner also said Senese had done good work in previous development projects.
Commission Chair Louise Provenzano said the commission worked with businesses as much as possible and the calling of a bond was not common for the commission but it felt it needed to also serve the interests of city residents as well as businesses.
Calamar Enterprises representative Jerry Hill expressed concern the company would soon be ready to move forward on the project and may be peeling off freshly laid topsoil just to begin construction. He also said much of recent construction issues were outside of development control due to pandemic-related challenges.
City officials said Senese was not present for the meeting but had reached out to him.