The state is hoping to complete negotiations soon on a proposal to swap 17 acres it owns near the Connecticut River in Haddam for 87 acres in Higganum.
Officials with the are still in discussions with the owners of the Higganum land but hope to complete those talks “very soon,” DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said Wednesday.
While the land swap is still in negotiation, Schain said, state law allows the state to keep the appraisal information under wraps. Opponents of the land swap have requested the information but the state has denied those requests.
Schain added, however, that all of the appraisals done on both parcels, two appraisals for each, indicate that the state-owned land is worth more than the 87 acres of woodland in Higganum.
But Schain said that doesn’t mean the swap can’t still take place. Though state law requires any private property being swapped for state land be worth at least as much as the state land, the law includes provisions for owners of private property to offer money or additional lands to make the deal equitable for the state.
The has been hotly contested by some residents and environmentalists who want to see the 17 acres, which the state bought in 2003 as conservation land, kept as public open space. The owners of the , a private banquet hall, proposed the swap because they want to develop the 17 acres, which abut their banquet facility property.
of the swap recently sought to force Haddam leaders to hold a town meeting on the proposal, but the Board of Selectmen earlier this month rejected that idea.