No Erosion Controls or Enforcement on Neck Road, Plenty of Finger Pointing

For more than six months, construction of a 9-lot subdivision at 16 Neck Road in Old Lyme has continued without erosion control or clear protection of wetlands in place. (CT Examiner)


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OLD LYME — Officials are at odds over construction on a nine-lot subdivision in town, which has been allowed to continue without erosion and sediment controls or clear protection of wetlands in place for more than six months.

Two town commission chairs disagree with land use coordinator Eric Knapp about when he can enforce erosion measures, in his capacity as zoning enforcement officer and inland wetlands officer. 

Knapp told CT Examiner on Thursday that he could not proceed with enforcement until the mylars for the 16 Neck Road project had been recorded. 

“Once the plans are OK’d by the town engineer … the mylars can be recorded and then the land office can hold the developer to the conditions approved by the Planning Commission,” he said.

The developer, Keystone Capital Corp., received project approval with conditions from the Planning Commission on Sept. 29 and proceeded with construction on the 12-acre parcel. Since December, the company has been granted two 90-day extensions to file mylars.

On Friday, CT Examiner obtained a June 15 letter addressed to Knapp from the town’s engineering firm, Nathan L. Jacobson & Associates, that provided a review of the project and stated an engineer had done a site visit on June 13. 

According to the letter, no erosion and sediment control measures were in place during the visit. Concerning the site’s wetlands located close to Neck Road, the letter stated, “Apparent efforts were made by the developer to protect the wetlands from site runoff with the wood chip berm, but the berm was incomplete and did not surround the wetland entire upland area of the wetlands.”

The firm detailed a number of potential problems on site.

“The site has significant areas of disturbance from recent construction. Clearing and grubbing operations are in progress. Stockpiles of downed trees, stumps, and excavated earthen materials were located throughout the site east of the property’s crest elevation.” 

Excavation for the 900-foot driveway and the proposed stormwater basin have also been performed, according to the letter.

Rachael Gaudio, chair of the Inland Wetlands Commission, said Knapp had the authority to enforce erosion and sedimentation measures on the project. 

“Eric Knapp, as ZEO and inland wetlands enforcement officer, has the ability to go out to any project that we’ve given approval to and talk to them and tell them to put in erosion controls. That doesn’t have to be the commission itself.”

Planning Commission Chair Harold Thompson told CT Examiner that a delay in choosing a new town engineer and engineering firm resulted in project setbacks. He said Knapp only received instruction on Thursday to install erosion and sediment control.  

But, he said, “[Enforcement] doesn’t really involve Planning, it involves the Zoning Enforcement Officer. It is the Zoning Enforcement Officer’s responsibility.” 

Knapp recently enforced erosion controls on Buttonball Road, including the installation of a hay bale border on a property where a dirt berm had been constructed next to wetlands. The town’s Inland Wetlands Commission also considered issuing its own cease & desist order in that case.

But Knapp told CT Examiner his office did not have the power of issuing a cease and desist remedy for 16 Neck Road. 

“The remedy would be to bring the developer back to planning and to revoke the subdivision,” he said. “But we are hoping not to get there.” 

If there was a violation of the approved inland wetlands plan, Knapp said, then the Inland Wetlands Commission could impose a cease and desist order. 

Knapp was not available for additional comment on Friday.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story did not make clear that Knapp did not decline to comment, but was rather unavailable on Friday prior to publication.