Jurisdiction is a “Red Herring” in Old Lyme Open Space Dispute


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To the Editor:

I am a member of Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission and recently toured the town-owned property along Black Hall River as an educational visit. The site is town owned and a portion is within the jurisdiction of the IWWC.

In my opinion, whatever local authority has jurisdiction on this property is a “red herring”. What is important is that it is a town-owned property. Furthermore, when the property was deeded away from private ownership it came with a restriction that it shall be used for a public access boat launch to access the navigable Black Hall River. That restriction is what is relevant. Abutting land owners brought suit against this use back in the 1950s and the state’s highest court ruled against the abutters.

If one were writing a conspiracy piece, it is interesting that a member of the Open Space Commission, a co-chair, is an abutter, is very vocal about this property not being used as deeded, and that the property was not placed on the open space inventory list.

It seems without question that the property was deeded for the public to use and enjoy and that use is being thwarted by some members of the Open Space Commission. I would ask all of our town’s citizens to look into this matter and stay abreast of this issue. The State Supreme Court decision, deeds, and maps are all readily available for the public to review. Kudos to Michael Barnes for bringing this matter into the sunlight. This property has been hidden for too long and perhaps by people who had a reason to hide it.

Michael Miller
Old Lyme, CT

Miller, a lawyer, is a member of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission