Old Lyme to Acquire Two Easements by Eminent Domain

OLD LYME — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday to commence with the acquisition of easements by eminent domain for properties located at 85 Swan Ave. and 86 Hartford Ave. 

The easements are needed for the construction of a permanent sewage conveyance pipe that will be part of the future combined sewage system for three chartered beach communities — Miami Beach, Old Colony Beach and Old Lyme Shores — and the town’s Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Area B. 

The Pavilion Restaurant is located on a .46-acre parcel at 85 Swan Ave., which is abutted to the west by 86 Hartford Ave., an open .09-acre parcel. Both parcels stretch across Pond Road, which is the proposed path of the conveyance pipe that will run from Old Lyme Shores through Sound View to 73 Portland Avenue, where a pump station will process wastewater from all four beach communities. From the pump station, wastewater will travel north along Portland Avenue to Route 156 and east through East Lyme and Waterford to the wastewater treatment plant in New London. 

Timothy Griswold, First Selectman, said the town negotiated with Frank Maratta, the principal of Long Island Sound Properties, which owns the two properties, but the mortgage holder on the parcels would not agree to the easements. 

“We had a proposal to make a payment without going this route but we understood that the mortgage holder on the property was not willing to subordinate, that the regular easement process would not work,” he said. “So it was at that point that we engaged counsel to use this eminent domain proceeding.”

The town will ask for a 40-foot construction easement and a 20-foot permanent easement for the sewage pipe that will run beneath the two properties, Griswold said. 

“The pipe would be put underground through the dirt parking area and would hopefully present very little inconvenience to the operation and the property owners,” he said. 

Griswold pointed out the town was only pursuing the easements by eminent domain but was not acquiring the properties. 

The easements were key to moving forward with the sewer construction project, he said. 

“The engineer Fuss & O’Neill has everything ready to go out to bid. It’s important to have this resolved because we really can’t proceed without this easement,” he said. 

The Superior Court will provide a certificate of taking that will enable the town to proceed. “It’s a very standard process,” Griswold said. 

Old Lyme voters approved a $9.5 million bond for sewer construction in Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Area B in August 2019. A Clean Water Funds Grant will reduce the cost by 25 percent to about $7.44 million. The three beach associations voted to pay for their own sewer projects in 2011-12 and have already negotiated Intermunicipal Agreements (IMAs) with East Lyme, Waterford and New London, which the town is planning to join. 

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