An Environmental Impact Evaluation/Environmental Assessment hearing 6 p.m. Thursday at Montville Town Hall about The Villages, a 120-unit housing project planned for Route 32 near Fort Hill Drive, concerns the future of Montville.
This step of the review process is required under the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Connecticut Environmental Policy Act.
In this case, the developer has already awarded $250,000 in state funding for preliminary site work and has submitted application for a federally guaranteed loan to continue the project. This $19 million project has estimated annual tax revenues of $1.5 million, along with 100 new construction jobs.
Unfortunately, a proposed Tribal Cultural Property (TCP) zone sought by the Mohegan Tribe could permanently block its path.
Since its inception in 2005, the town and Vizion Enterprises have worked together throughout the planning and evaluation sessions.
In 2011, the Mohegan Tribe voiced an objection because The Villages is adjacent to its elder housing community. The entire area of Mohegan Hill would be identified as a TCP under the National Historic Register and would block all development within the identified Route 32 corridor.
Ironically, the Mohegan Tribe submitted an application for a federal permit to construct a power substation in Mohegan Hill and indicated there was nothing of cultural significance in the area. In fact, the entire area has undergone extensive commercial and residential development.
The Villages' developer, Vlad Coric, M.D., was born and raised in Montville.
The Mohegan Tribe asserts that "Traditional Cultural Property zone is nothing new." According to Dan Forrest, deputy state historic preservation officer, it is the first formal TCP zone evaluation undertaken in Connecticut.
Moreover, when asked if such a boundary would have significant impact on future development in Montville and potentially interfere with the ability of future applicants to secure federal funding (including guaranteed loans) for similar projects that fall within the affected area, Mr. Forrest responded that he's not a planner or economist. Therefore, he could not comment on the potential economic impact of the review process for the town.
Formal listing of a TCP zone on the National Register would require the consent of a majority of property owners within the district boundary, approval by state review and National Park Service's National Registry in Washington, D.C.
The Mohegan tribe will not control development. Property owners are free to make improvements and/or sell their property. The broader issue is the TCP zone would negatively impact federally funded projects in Montville and undoubtedly suffocate any significant future economic development.
Please attend the hearing.