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Haddam Land Swap is Over

Riverhouse Properties LLC has pulled out of the deal.

 

After more than a year of emotional legal wrangling, the controversial has come to an abrupt and quiet end.

The developers who had sought the 17.4 acres overlooking the Connecticut River have notified the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection that they are backing out of the deal to swap 87 acres in Higganum for the river view land in Tylerville.

In a letter sent to the DEEP, , through its lawyer, said it will no longer pursue the land swap because appraisals of the two properties have shown that the state’s river land is worth $1.3 million more than the Higganum forest land. You can view a PDF of the letter above.

The letter goes on to say that Riverhouse “takes exception” to the appraisals, but that its concerns have made no difference in the appraisers’ findings.

In a statement issued today a DEEP spokesman said Riverhouse could have offered additional money or other property to make the deal more equitable to the state, but the developer opted not to do so.

"Our state-owned land was valued some $1.3 million higher than the property being offered by Riverhouse.  Riverhouse has declined to offer additional land or money to make this a swap of equal value - as was called for in last year's special act - which effectively brings this matter to a close.”

Under state law any swap of private land for state land requires that the private land be at least equal in value to the state land.

The DEEP statements goes on to defend the appraisals that were conducted by two independent firms.

"Last year's special act called for the value of the two properties involved to be set through the use of two independent appraisals.  Two qualified and respected appraisers were selected to do this and they followed all of the widely accepted procedures and practices for establishing the value of the two properties.  Both appraisers reached the same conclusion: that the value of the state owned land was about $1.3 million higher than the property being offered to us in return."

Riverhouse’s withdrawal from the land swap brings to an end that had divided the community and set environmental groups against those who had sought development in Tylerville village.

the organization that spearheaded the initiative said of the withdrawal, "this is good for the town, good for the region, and good for the state."

"And, it is a victory for the citizens of Haddam, now the planning for the town will be back in the hands of the local residents."

Riverhouse had sought the land, which abuts their banquet facility, the Riverhouse at Goodspeed Station, to build a commercial development that would augment their banquet hall business.

sharon botelle April 04, 2012 at 02:00 AM
YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pomeroy April 04, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Now, to examine the change in assessment of the river property to support the swap - a change defended by our tax assessor and first selectman. It was a disservice to all parties involved in that it unnecessarily prolonged the conflict. It will take a long time to repair the damage done to the community. Accountability is in order here.
Jacquelyn April 04, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Say Halluljah; say Amen!!! One major (back) step for "politics", one GIANT LEAP for "the People"!!! Thank you to all who continued to fight AGAINST the land swap and FOR the right cause!!!
Jacquelyn April 04, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Oh - One more thing... State Senator Eileen Daily is up for re-election. Ms. Daily is clearly NOT representing "the people". Lets put an end to this "career politician". Remember to vote AGAINST Eileen Daily!!
CJTOO April 04, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Wonderful news!
Belle April 04, 2012 at 10:09 AM
From the other side of the River... THANK YOU!!!!!!!
Gene Bartholomew April 04, 2012 at 11:22 AM
I'll gladly run against her.
Gene Bartholomew April 04, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Don't forget to DUMP LIBERTY BANK, I will never do business with them. I believe it was the Liberty bank loans of 2 million (THAT SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED) that artificially inflated the value of the 87 acres that gave DEEP pause. It was clearly BS. Whoever leaked that info is the real hero.
Gene Bartholomew April 04, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Now we need to worry about Sunrise.
Elize Nizet April 04, 2012 at 11:51 AM
things are not as they should be in Haddam. We still have an out of control gravel mine in a neigborhood with huge sand trucks coming and going where people try to live. The habitat of many species is gone forever - what once was a beautiful mixed forest with Laurel, wildflowers,turtles, woodpeckers, woodfrogs, salamader, and many others - and wetlands are all gone for ever. We are left with huge heaps of sand and holes - nothing there - gone everything that was cool and lush and beautiful full of life. Like the swap - this is a terrible thing of destruction in our midst. Please help put an end to that too.
Semi Happy Resident April 04, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Now is the time to pass a law for the town so the land cannot be swapped permanently so you don't have to go through this again
Gene Bartholomew April 04, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Thats the one thing you all keep forgetting, its not Haddam's land, its the states, its all of ours. They (Daily,Riverhouse.Goodspeed) wanted to keep it a local issue to keep the issue off the radar, it is much easier to sell a bridge to nowhere to a small town than it is the entire state. The actual action they tried to do IS illegal already, you cannot trade state owned park to a developer for several reasons, the first of which was that the money used to purchase the land in the first place was Conservation Funds, which stipulate that the money cannot be used to purchase any land that will later be sold or traded. Malloy, Daily, & Esty all ignored this because they are arrogant and think that laws do not matter. I agree it would be wise to revamp Haddams local laws but State laws will have to be reinforced as well, the only issue facing Haddam was the actual building of the hotel and theater once the land was traded, they needed to get verbal approval in the backroom before getting the land.
Gene Bartholomew April 04, 2012 at 12:21 PM
If you remember the meeting in E. Haddam, Daily stated "these types of transactions happen all the time". I challenged her and stated that there has never been a State Park quit claimed to a developer, the only thing the state does is quit claim unused land like old on/off ramps, fields, unused buildings to local towns and cities, not to developers and never a park or forrest, only unused former state land. When I challenged her to show me a document showing any previous trades of a state park to a developer she stated: " I never said that".
Mary Ann Gilman April 04, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Thank you Melissa Schlag and John Kennedy and all the other citizens that supported "Citizens for Protection of Public Lands "
Mary Ann Gilman April 04, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Bouquets to Melissa Schlag and John Kennedy for their sucessful efforts in their quest for Protection of Our Public Lands! Ms. Schlag has served the Town of Haddam well in her interest for improving Haddam and I, for one, would hope she seek the job of Select(wo)man for OUR town. I have NO doubt she could do that job well as she participates in so many town meetings and well understands the needs of Haddam. Thank you Melissa!
Ed Gubbins April 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Right! I hope this doesn't get lost or forgotten
Ed Gubbins April 04, 2012 at 01:45 PM
She lost my vote, and I will gladly work for the candidate running against her!
Ed Gubbins April 04, 2012 at 01:51 PM
GREAT NEWS!
Constance Anderson April 04, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Thanks to all who persevered on our behalf!
John Schlag April 04, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Hopefully this land grab by unethical state officials ,legislators and developers is finally dead. However, it will have to be watched carefully so that it is not resurected in another form. I for one do not trust the people involved including the state officials and believe they must be watched VERY carefully. It seems that Eileen Daily has done enough damage and it is time for her to go.
Ilene Coman April 04, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I agree totally! She spearheaded the swap from the beginning and used her power to get the swap in, no thanks to the new DEEP commissioner Dan Esty and Gov. Malloy, after she failed 2 yrs in a row before last year thanks to Gov. Rell and the DEP Commissioner under her were against the swap! I will never vote for Daily again! She and her swap didn't pass the smell test!
Ilene Coman April 04, 2012 at 06:39 PM
A huge THANK YOU to Melissa and everyone else who worked incredibly hard for months to stop the swap and educate the public of the wrongs being done. But like John Schlag said above, people have to be wary. If the only thing that broke this deal was that Riverhouse Properties weren't willing to pay the state the extra million dollars or give them more land, than what will stop some other developers with the money (or land to swap) to go forward with a deal for this land. It's scary that Daily can do this over again with this Preserve or some other state land that is supposed to be open space. Even though the Haddam land that she wanted to give to Riverhouse Properties was bought with state funds that are specifically for buying land for conservation, Daily wasn't fazed by that fact and didn't care whether it was ethically or legally wrong, she still pushed it down peoples' throats 3 yrs in a row until a new administration was in place that supported her deal! Until I hear her say that the deal is gone and that she won't fight to let a developer have this land again, I wouldn't trust that the land is safe from developers. I really hope that it will be safe but I just don't trust Daily and never will about anything!!!
Melissa Schlag April 04, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Thank you Mary Ann for the wonderful compliment. But I do have to say it was all the people who signed petitions, came to meetings, contributed funds for mailings etc, and continued to ask questions that helped make this a success. And a huge thank you to all CPPL members and friends, some of whom persevered for over three years. But as some of you have already stated, the precedent has still been set and until we find some way to protect our existing parks and wildlife management areas, nothing will be safe. The wording in the deed for Clark Creek Wildlife Management Area was the strongest the DEEP has on the books and if it can happen there it can happen to any other state land. Environmentalists aren't against development and/or developers and they are truly each others best friends; they can coexist in beautiful harmony. However, there has to be an open and honest forum to discuss these issues, not underhanded, back room deals.
John April 04, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Well, Missy and the group actually failed to stop it. It was the appraisers who stopped it. You should be sending them the congratulations. Maybe an Incredible Edible.
Jaclyn Farnham April 04, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Congratulations to all of you who fought to save this land and to the leaders with Citizens for The Protection of Public Lands. I helped save a portion of Elm Ridge Park in Rocky Hill, and have been in touch with the citizens of New London who saved their Riverside Park, as well one of the leaders in New Britiain who helped saved Stanley Park from Costco development. I would like to organize a media press conference and smaller media interviews with representatives from all Towns. Can someone please contact me who lead the group in Haddam? saveelmridge@saveelmridgepark.com
Luella Landis April 04, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Wonderful news! Lu Landis Cromwell
John Schlag April 04, 2012 at 08:57 PM
John you may be right about the technicalites of the failure of the swap but if it wasn't for the so called "group" fighting the process it would have been a done deal with no input from the residents and taxpayers. I seriously doubt that an appraisal would actually have been done if CPPL had not shown a really bright light on the whole sordid affair.
Tanja Moriarty April 04, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Thank you, CPPL! I agree w John Schlag. If citizens didnt keep plugging it would have made it easier for the state and developers to play the shell games. Melissa has my vote, Mary Ann!! We need tenacious and thorough people like her.
Melissa Schlag April 05, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Good idea, "John," but I already sent them a Hickory Farms Cheese and Sausage basket, had to pay extra for the special Dijon mustard, but it was worth it. Thanks for your creativity though.
Belle April 05, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Definately what disarry that place has turned into, such a shame!!

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