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Private Road Nixes Open Space Deal in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — “It simply got down to the point where the restrictions on the road and the properties were obstacles that we could not overcome,” said Evan Griswold, co-chair of the Open Space Commission, on Tuesday, about the end of a deal to purchase two parcels of the Ames property for town open space. 

Last year the commission signed a $400,000 contract with owner Steven Ames for two lots on Whippoorwill Road. The properties, totaling 35 acres, would have connected with the town’s 195-acre Ames Open Space and provided space for a parking area and access points to the property. 

Complications arose because the two lots are part of a five-lot subdivision accessed by its own private road. All five of the lot owners would have had to vote to waive the restrictions on the road to allow public access to the town’s open space. 

“If the town had gone through with a purchase, we would be responsible for about 40 percent of the cost of maintaining the road and the other lot owners would have the remaining 60 percent,” Griswold said. 

He said neighbors on the road were initially in favor of open space abutting their property but changed their minds and decided that public access along the private road would not be in their interest. 

“So that kind of put a kibosh on the whole thing,” he said.

In previous coverage by CT Examiner, commission co-chair Amanda Blair had suggested the installation of a turnaround for buses and cars for the Ames property off of the private road.

Another restriction on the lots requires a buyer to commence building a house within 18 months, which would have needed to be waived for the sale to go through, said Griswold. 

“We weren’t going to build anything, obviously. We’re the Open Space Commission and the only thing that we would be putting up would be maybe a kiosk with a map and rules and regulations of the trail and that sort of thing,” he said. 

Griswold said that building new houses will likely result in traffic along the private road. 

“I think it’ll be interesting when you think of the amount of traffic that private lots engender with UPS and FedEx and Amazon and everybody else going in and out several times a day, plus whoever lives there. If it’s developed into building lots, there’s going to be traffic as well.” 

Steven Ames could not be reached for this story. Joe and Tammy Tinnerello, who live on Whippoorwill Road, declined an opportunity to comment. 

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