Two months ago, the town of Stonington provided the Connecticut of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) with a zoning map amendment for the proposed Smiler’s Wharf development in downtown Mystic for review.
Two months later — the day of a key hearing of the Planning and Zoning Commission — Brian Thompson, Director of DEEP’s Land & Water Resources Division replied.
The four-and-a-half page letter, though late in coming, is by any reading, damning.
Thompson concludes that the project — which recently received the unanimous approval of Stonington’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) — adversely affects the “water-dependent use” of the site, contrary to General Statutes 22a-92(3).
Basically, that means the project is contrary to the state’s legislated interest in preserving maritime uses for waterfront properties.
It’s an argument that in the near future could equally be applied to constrain redevelopment of the waterfront in Essex.
Thompson also cites the lack of easy egress from the site during a storm — an argument similarly applied to a proposed development on Shaw’s Cove in New London (a complaint which in that case has apparently been withdrawn).
Thompson denies in advance approval of flood and erosion control walls.
In numerous instances, Thompson argues even that the Smiler’s Wharf proposal is at odds with the town’s own Plan of Conservation and Development.
We have not yet heard from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation or any other preservation group that would presumably voice concerns that the project will adversely affect the nearby National Register Historic District and the defining historic use and aesthetic of the working harbor.
We encourage you to read Thompon’s letter.