The best way to see “The Hills” is from the upper reaches of the Niantic River in East Lyme and Waterford, Connecticut. The “Last Mile” is, as far as we can tell, the last undeveloped mile of salt water frontage on the Connecticut coast. The Hills rise from the river to nearly 100 feet elevation in less than one-quarter mile. The land is dotted with cliffs, steep slopes and shallow soils to bedrock with outcrops in many spots. It has numerous small wetlands and vernal pools as well.
Just north of a 420-acre preserve administered by the Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve is the 240-privately-owned-acres of the Oswegatchie Hills, a pristine small forest that is threatened by a proposed construction project.
Landmark Development, which owns more than 236 acres fronting Caulkins Road, is proposing to build 408 one-bedroom apartments and 432 two-bedroom apartments in a development that would be called Riverview Heights. The new housing development would include multi-family housing and some moderate to low income housing. The developer also has an application for 678 two-bedroom townhouses in the same area pending.
One question at hand is whether or not the town would have the sewer capacity to accommodate the new development. An engineer representing the town estimates that East Lyme has an available flow of 130,000 gallons per day. The new development would need a sewage disposal capacity of about 118,000 gallons per day, around 90 percent of the town’s available flow.
While Landmark Development Group and Jarvis has been thwarted by two denied zoning applications which have been upheld by the Superior Court, a third application was sent back to East Lyme Zoning Commission by the Judge for reconsideration.
The Oswegatchie Hills have been part of the Town of East Lyme’s plan for open space for over 20 years. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has listed it for preservation and actively tried to purchase the land for over four million dollars. The Stewardship Committee of the Long Island Sound Study has placed it on its list of parcels that should be preserved to protect the sound.
Save the River-Save the Hills, Inc. and the FOHNP are registered as Intervenors in the continuing legal battle against a predatory speculator. The East Lyme Water and Sewer Commission currently has 65 days to make a decision on this development. We need citizens to speak out to save this “Last Mile.”
You can also check out this video to learn more about protecting the Niantic River.
Visit Save the River-Save the Hills’ Facebook page for the most current information on the Water and Sewer Commission proceedings.
Today’s guest post is written by Fred Grimsey, president of Save the River-Save the Hills, Inc.