The state's Government Administration and Elections Committee voted to send to the full Senate a controversial land swap proposal in Haddam.
The committee voted with little comment on the plan to swap 17 acres near the Connecticut River for 87 acres of forestland in Higganum is contained in a land conveyance bill that committee will vote on when it meets today at noon. The issue has become increasingly heated in Haddam over the last several weeks, as opposition to it mounts from residents and land preservation groups.
State Sen. Eileen Daily, D-Westbrook, inserted the land swap bill in the conveyance measure on behalf of the developers of the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station. The 17 acres abuts the Riverhouse property and the owners of the business have proposed building a boutique hotel on the site along with associated retail space.
“Riverhouse Properties is grateful the committee recognizes the value of this land exchange for the state and its residents," said Trevor Furrer, managing partner of Riverhouse. "We pledge to work hard in the weeks to come reaching out to those with concerns and educating more people about the environmental and economic benefits of the project.”
Opponents, however, say the land is ecologically sensitive and should remain as open space. They also have complained that the land swap would set a bad precedent and could discourage others from donating open space to the state.
Proponents of the swap say it would give the state 87 acres that abut the Cockanponset State Forest in Higganum and increase access to that state park. They also argue that the river land being swapped gets limited public use and would provide for much-needed development in the Tylerville section of town.