The Day – Preston Wetlands Commission approves RV park near Avery Pond

Preston – A planned RV park and campground cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday, with the Wetlands and Inland Waters Commission voting 3-2 to approve the scaled-down but still controversial 65-acre project on land owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation at the junction of Routes 2 and 164 and abutting Avery Pond.

Blue Water Development Corp., based in Maryland, offered the RV park and campground as Blue Camp CT LLC, on three parcels owned by the Mashantuckets at 451, 455 and 495 Route 2.

Commission Chairman John Moulson clarified that he was not voting “for”, but was voting to approve the project because it complied with wetland regulations. The commission set several conditions, including a requirement that a bond of $600,000 be held by the city in the event of a problem or abandonment of the project. Other conditions give the city’s Wetlands Officer, Len Johnson, the authority to issue a cease and desist order to all activities if violations are discovered.

Commission members Doug Fox and Rebecca Hayes voted in favour, and commissioners Paul Andruskewicz and Henry Wrigley voted against.

The project has been revised several times in response to concerns from residents and city consulting engineers and was estimated in March at $18.5 million. The plan originally called for 304 campsites, a T-shaped dock at Avery Pond, an elevated boardwalk leading to tent campsites along the pond, three bathhouses, paved roads and parking areas and several other amenities.

Blue Water reduced the size of the project to 280 campsites, eliminated the dock, boardwalk, tent sites along the pond, and a bathhouse. All roadways and parking areas will be gravelled except at the main entrance and visitor center.

The commission was understaffed for the review and vote on the RV park, with members Chuck Barnicki, Ian Stammel and Zach Turner all recusing themselves because they live near the proposed project. Commission member Jerry Grabarek abstained after drawing criticism from project lawyer Harry Heller for allegedly seeking information about potential soil contamination outside of the open court testimony.

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