Thursday, January 17, 2008

Connecticut Appears Ready to Approve Madison Landing, Next to Hammonasset

Good news for a big new development next to Hammonasset State Park in Madison, bad news for the people who want to stop it: a hearing officer for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has decided that a new-fangled sewage treatment system will be adequate to handle the waste of 127 new houses.

The project is called Madison Landing. It's proposed for the old Griswold Airport. The reason it's different and imporant is that the developer -- Leyland Alliance -- wants to build in a relatively dense, "traditional" development rather than a less dense sprawl-type development. And they want to build it next to the state's busiest park, which happens to be on Long Island Sound.

Lots of people who I respect, including my friends at Audubon Connecticut, think it's a bad idea. The fellow who writes the Connecticut Smart Growth blog, up in northwestern Connecticut, thinks it's a bad idea too. My opinion is that Connecticut needs to do something to counter prevailing development practices, which have turned much of the state into indistinguishable strips. So if Griswold Airport is going to be developed, then Leyland's plan should get a shot.
But I also agree that the state and the town of Madison should start to talk to Leyland about a sale for preservation. The Courant today says (here) that Leyland isn't interested in selling, but as someone who is in the land preservation business, I can say confidently that what developers say in public isn't always what they say in private. And money talks.

Speaking of which, the Madison residents who are opposing Madison Landing need to put their money where their mouths are, in the form of a local bond issue to raise acquisition funds and also in the form of private donations from their own bank accounts. If protecting Griswold Airport is that important, make a commitment to it.

Here's what I've had to say about Madison Landing in the past.



Anonymous Outraged Citizen said...

We just went over many rounds of inland wetlands hearings here in Guilford over a project involving the Zenon system. What I've learned about the CT DEP and the process for permitting and monitoring is that they are an absolute joke and anything they say about it should be summarily dismissed.

Government and business have become a two-headed monster that devours the public trust with no pity or shame. Asking citizens to open up their wallets to save the airport from development when THE LAND SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DEVELOPABLE TO BEGIN WITH (as you on reported here via Courant article here) is a bit much.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Tom Andersen + Gina Federico said...

Dear Outraged,
I couldn't disagree more. No matter what the state did to make the land more developable, it's still private property and it still was bought in good faith by the current owners. Local contributions to land preservation don't have to be big but they're often necessary, and they're becoming the norm, particularly in communities, such as Madison, that can afford it.

Also, read my policy on anonymous comments, in the right sidebar. I let your first one in but if you're going to tell me your opinion in the future, I'm going to have to know who you are.

-- Tom Andersen

10:35 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

I've tried many times to fight developments or questionable permits and at the end of the day, as Tom says, it is always "show me the money." The best option is to buy the land, secure the development rights, or create a conservation easement.

Strangely, you can hire lawyers and fight the battle in court for about the same cost; go figure.

I've said this before and I'll say it again. The problem is not with the "mini-pack" sewage plant and its approval, but with those platted 147 lots which could sprout houses and lawns on them. The wastewater system is designed to have near-zero emissions of contaminants into the Sound, much better than the old systems that date back decades.

But what if you learned that the 147 lots could send tons of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into the Sound, just from indirect sources such as disturbed soil, lawns, and stormwater runoff?

As the Sound is cleaned up for all the point sources such as wastewater treatment systems you're STILL going to have a hypoxia problem simply because of non-point pollution, lack of cleaning wetlands and sea grasses, and more lawns groomed as if golf courses. I rest my case.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Sam is right... Development will always happen--as Tom says, private landowners have rights that we often forget. The best approach is to be proactive, and have very good zoning regulations, and a long-range plan for land preservation and land acquistion in the Town's plan of Conservation and Development. If we look at the bigger picture, the major increases in nitrogen loading to the Sound are occurring not just from obvious coastal development but development inland in coastal and larger watersheds draining to the Sound. All development increases nitrogen loading (with the exception of agricultural land conversion to low-density development). We know for instance that nitrogen loads from developed lands are often 3-10 times larger than from forested areas. Forested watershed areas are still (for how much longer before nitrogen saturation?) able to take up about two-thirds of the atmospheric nitrogen that falls on them. For a look at changes to this central coastal area of Connecticut-- look at the UCONN Clear research page. The South-Central Eastern complex watershed
has experienced an 18% increase in the amount of developed area, as well as major loss of forest cover.

The south-central watershed (direct coastal area)
has experienced an 8.4% increase in developed land, and a significan loss of forest cover also. Anyway, just my 2 cents...
Sorry about the anonymous post, but I work in this field, and it is best if I stay anon. Great Blog!

12:05 PM  

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