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Haddam Land Swap On Its Way To Governor’s Desk

by Christine Stuart | Jun 9, 2011 1:10am
(11) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Environment, Local Politics

Christine Stuart photo

Rep. Philip Miller, D-Essex

Despite a brief attempt by freshman Rep. Philip Miller, D-Essex, to amend it, the House voted 90 to 58 to give final passage to a conveyance bill, which included the controversial Haddam land swap.

Miller argued that the 17 acres of land the state purchased and wants to exchange with a developer for 87 acres of land, was purchased as conservation land.

Speaking on the floor, Miller said he recognized that the other conveyances in the bill were legitimate but maintained that the “Haddam land swap is based on 17 acres that is definitely conservation land.”

He said despite of what he called “slick marketing,” the formerly industrial zoned sandpit is now a sand barren, a critical habitat in Connecticut.

Rep. Edward Moukawsher, D-Groton, who spoke against the bill said he thinks “common sense has finally prevailed in this matter,” as he referenced the debate in the Senate. He said there’s nothing in the deed to indicate it’s conservation land. Miller disagreed.

A government source at the State Capitol on Tuesday said the controversy comes down to the difference between the words “should” and “shall,” the former of which appears in the deed as part of a key phrase suggesting the land “should be retained in its natural scenic or open condition.” If the phrase were to read “shall be retained” or “must be retained,” there would be additional language spelling out specific conditions of the parcel’s conservation, according to the source.

But Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, said she thinks it sets a bad precedent for anyone wanting to donate land to the state to be maintained as conservation land or open space. She said there’s no guarantee anymore that the land won’t be developed based on the action the legislature took Wednesday.

Rep. Russ Morin, D-Wethersfield, said he doesn’t believe the environmentalists who say this bill was rushed through the process. He said this piece of legislation and the land swap was thoroughly vetted by the General Administration and Elections Committee.

He said there was a public hearing where lawmakers listened to the discussion and made a sound decision based on those discussions. He added he didn’t believe this would impact the donation of land to the state because this parcel was not donated.

“It was purchased,” Morin said.

The bill was brought up at around 10:45 p.m. and a vote was taken shortly after 11 p.m. as the legislature sped to its midnight deadline.

Hugh McQuaid contributed to this report.

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(11) Comments

posted by: ... | June 9, 2011  1:34am

...

What is the bill number for this piece of legislation?

posted by: Doug Hardy | June 9, 2011  1:43am

it’s linked in the lead graph jonessy wink

posted by: ... | June 9, 2011  1:51am

...

Oh geez my bad Doug :p. I’ve been with a bit of a flu the past couple of days. Thanks!

posted by: Doug Hardy | June 9, 2011  2:18am

no problem!

posted by: Disgruntled | June 9, 2011  10:42am

How much was the land purchased for and why?
What did the developers pay for their land that they want to swap? What is the condition of that land next to the preserve? Has anyone evaulated the relative worth of both parcels,outside of government? Why does a developer want to put housing on this land and not the desirable land next to a nature preserve?
Let the light of day shine on this “deal” even after the Nutmeg King signs off on it.You will probably find out that it was not such a deal for Connecticut.

posted by: countryliving | June 9, 2011  1:24pm

But lets just let the land sit there and do nothing shall we?? I can not believe that of all the pieces of legislation this has gotten the attention that it has. I am glad the legislature stood up and did what was best.

posted by: Davefrom NewsTalk2niteOTH | June 9, 2011  4:42pm

With due respect to Representative Morin, the implications of the pasage of this bill are TERRIBLE for the State.  When the land in Haddam was purchased, under the CONSERVATION program that permitted the use of state funds to set aside land, it was CLEAR that the intent of the sellers, who have publically spoken about their intent and expectations, to set this land aside for conservation purposes.  Now folks who WERE inclinded to make such sales or donations to the State with think twice, thrice and even four times before going ahead with a deal with the State.  This sets an AWEFUL precedent for the future.

posted by: gutbomb86 | June 9, 2011  6:50pm

gutbomb86

Doesn’t make sense - the deed (which newsjunkie has here) says the land is “free of encumbrances” according to previous story. Means it wasn’t conserved, no?

Story on DEP commish bailing out on providing a clarification is puzzling.

posted by: ... | June 9, 2011  7:28pm

...

Disgruntled: Click on the ‘conveyance bill’ link on the article to look for the answers you ask. If it doesn’t satisfy, call up CT-N. I believe the CGA had public hearings on the entire bill (which includes more than Haddam). You can either find out when it will be replayed on TV or request (pay) for a recording.

posted by: LevelHeadedandObjective | June 10, 2011  4:56pm

It was a great idea right from the start. Rep Miller completely overreacted to the issue.  The hysteria and hyperbole was just plain wrong and the legislators saw right throught it. Kudos to them. And thank you Senator Daily, you make all of your friedns and constituents proud.  Can’t wait to hike the new 87 acres next to the State Forest. Generous exchange for sure.  Or as some might call it. Common sense!

posted by: Disgruntled | July 8, 2011  12:15pm

The Nutmeg King is all for open and honest dealings!
Of course he signed the bill today. It stinks of backroom politics and he has a key to the backroom!

“Although the Malloy administration has denied that the environmental commissioner and his agency were told to keep quiet, Esty did write in an April 1 e-mail, as environmentalists’ opposition to the swap grew: “I cannot dodge this much longer.”