Op-Ed: If the Focus Is on Protecting the Mill River, Aspetuck Land Trust Will Do That

I don’t fish and I’m not an expert on rivers.

But I have learned over the years that the Mill River, which runs along the South Park Avenue property owned by the town, is special. Experts in those areas and conservationists have expressed how important it is to protect that habitat.

We as a town now have that opportunity. The sale of 18.7 acres of the South Park Avenue property to the Aspetuck Land Trust accomplishes what so many people have been fighting for over the years. It preserves and protects the most environmentally sensitive areas of the property in perpetuity. I think that should be the focus. If the concern is really about protecting the Mill River, then the sale should go through.

Yes, the question remains about what will happen to the other 10 acres that are owned by the town. Many thoughts, suggestions and ideas have been mentioned. Some deserve serious consideration but I don’t think any of those should jeopardize the offer on the table. That offer is for the purchase of 18.7 acres. As many speculate about what may happen with the remaining acreage, keep this in mind. Rejecting this sale leaves the entire parcel vulnerable and subject to “what ifs.”

Again, if the focus is on protecting the Mill River, Aspetuck Land Trust will do that.

Contrary to what some may say about splitting the parcel, the state cannot require the town to put affordable housing on the remaining property under CT General Statute 8-30g. That statute applies to an appeals process where an application for a development has been denied by a local planning and zoning authority. CGS 8-30g would only apply if the town sells the land to a developer, who then proposes a project which is denied zoning approval and the developer then appeals to the state to allow the project to proceed.

Do not confuse the proposed sale to Aspetuck Land Trust with discussions about potential options to increase affordable housing units in town. They are two separate issues. Remember that when you go to vote on May 3.

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