Mystic hotel owner clearing land next to Coogan Farm center

Heavy equipment continues to clear property Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, behind the Holiday Inn Express in Mystic.  (Joe Wojtas/The Day)
Heavy equipment continues to clear property Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, behind the Holiday Inn Express in Mystic. (Joe Wojtas/The Day)

Mystic — The owner of the Holiday Inn Express on Coogan Boulevard is clearing a 4.5-acre lot behind his hotel, creating confusion among some residents who incorrectly think that the clearing is taking place at the Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center.

That’s because when residents approach the McQuade’s Marketplace parking lot, they face a closed gate that leads to the Coogan Farm site but which is adjacent to the land being cleared. Further confusion occurred when a resident posting on the popular Stonington Community Forum Facebook page erroneously said town maps indicate the land is owned by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, which owns the Coogan Farm site.

Stonington Director of Planning Jason Vincent said his office has received calls from residents inquiring about the clearing.

He said that town regulations do not prohibit hotel owner Babu Moore from clearing the site. He said no wetlands or protected areas are included in the clearing.

Vincent said he has had informal discussions with Moore about the possible development of the site but no application has been filed.

Moore has said in the past he was considering the construction of a second hotel on the site. Reached Tuesday, he said he has no plans for the property now but expects to be able to make an announcement in a few months.

At this point he said he is just clearing the land. As of Tuesday afternoon, heavy equipment remained on the site, where much of the vegetation had been removed.

Maggie Jones, the executive director of the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, could not be reached for comment.

Last Friday on the Stonington Community Forum Facebook page, nature center communications director Cassandra Meyer-Ogren wrote that the land does not belong to the center but to the owner of the Holiday Inn and that she does not have details about what is happening there.

“While development is inevitable, this is an example of why land conservation is important in our community. True to our mission, the Nature Center’s Coogan Farm will forever be protected as open space close to the heart of Mystic.”

j.wojtas@theday.com

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