Court upholds preservation of key 1,000 acres in Old Saybrook, Essex, Westbrook

Jul 25th, 2010 | By | Category: Land, Long Island Sound, Open Space, Preservation, River, Water Conservation

This view of the Preserve area is looking south east from Essex (Route 153 in the foreground), toward Saybrook Point and Long Island Sound in the distance. The mouth of the Connecticut River is at the top left, Connecticut Valley Railroad line visible center left, and the Pequot Swamp in The Preserve is at center right. (Photo: © R Lorenz)

“Excellent news,” is what Connecticut Fund for the Environment said of the Connecticut Appellate Court’s decision to uphold the Old Saybrook Inland Wetlands Commission decision to deny River Sound development permits for one of the state’s largest unprotected pieces of coastal open space known as “The Preserve.”

“In upholding the decision to deny the permit, the Court recognized the extraordinary ecological value of the area and the devastating impact that yet another subdivision would have had on the environment and wildlife,” said Charles Rothenberger, staff attorney for Connecticut Fund for the Environment.

“Advocates and members of the public have worked tirelessly to protect this land, and their mission has been bolstered first by the decision of the Superior Court, and now by the Appellate Court.  We hope that this decision will lead to a conservation sale and permanent preservation of this valuable landscape.”

River Sound, a subsidiary of Lehman Brothers, acquired the property in 2002. In 2005, River Sound proposed building an 18-hole golf course and 221 luxury homes on the 1,000-acre forested wetland complex. In beginning its plans to destroy this critical habitat that runs through Old Saybrook, Essex and Westbrook and is part of the Oyster River watershed, the developer themselves had enough moxy to dub it “The Preserve.”

The Preserve property is also significant in that it is Old Saybrook’s last significant undeveloped area, a key natural resource for the lower Connecticut River Valley, and the largest undeveloped coastal wetland and coastal forest between the Connecticut River and New York City. 

In its argument against the development, CFE determined that The Preserve property contains 114 acres of wetlands and is home to six state listed species of special concern.

CFE intervened to oppose the project, arguing that development would impair, pollute and destroy unique wetlands and watercourses on the property. 

CFE is a New Haven-based environmental non-profit. The fight to preserve “The Preserve” has become a model for others wishing to preserve relatively small areas for future generation. A small group of concerned citizens approached CFE and stood up for nearly the past ten years

See also:  Appeals Court Blocks Bid To Build On Forest Land – Courant.com.

River Sound Development LLC has again been blocked from building more than 221 homes and an 18-hole golf course on The Preserve in Old Saybrook, a 934-acre forest along the shoreline that includes wetlands, ridge lines, vernal pools and some of the area’s last undisturbed habitat for several rare species.

And: State Appellate Court upholds Old Saybrook’s denial of Preserve development | in The Day.

Old Saybrook – The Connecticut Appellate Court today upheld the Old Saybrook Inland Wetlands Commission’s decision to reject River Sound Development LLC’s application to develop the 1,000-acre Preserve property into a 220-unit housing complex.

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