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.