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Montville approves Bozrah's efforts to preserve open space for Avalonia Land Conservancy

Montville — The Montville Town Council voted Monday night to support Bozrah's grant application to preserve the Glemboski property, 160 acres of land shared by the two towns.

As stated in the council agenda, the land has forested uplands, forested wetlands, meadows and shrubland that provide a wide range of habitat and edge conditions supporting a diversity of wildlife.

Apart from preserving the open space and habitat, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's grant would require public access to the property for passive recreational uses, such as hiking and mountain biking.

Councilor Tim May, who previously approved it on the Conservation Commission, said the initiative would be beneficial to communities in both towns.

"The proposed access point is across from 102 South Road," said Samuel Alexander, the contracted planner for Bozrah who works through the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments.

The land still is privately owned and worth $400,000. An Open Space Watershed Land Acquisition grant would cover up to 65% of the land purchase price and it would be on Bozrah to fundraise the rest, Alexander said.

Allowing for the permanent protection of drinking water resources, the acquisition would expand the open space area within the Trading Cove Brook Watershed. Norwich Public Utilities already sent in a letter with its approval of the preservation, said Dennis Main, resident of Bozrah and chairman of Avalonia Land Conservancy's Finance Committee.

Avalonia, a nonprofit land trust working to preserve natural habitats in southeastern Connecticut since 1968, has intentions to manage the land once the grant is approved.

Main said Avalonia would have directly applied for the grant but, due to recent rule changes, an entity cannot apply for the grant if the organization holds grants for open projects in the region within the last two years. He said the town wants the open space and the current owners would like to see the property preserved rather than developed.

The parcels also abut the Milo Light Preserve in Montville — about 330 acres of land preserved by the Nature Conservancy — making the future expansion of trails possible.

"It makes for a critical mass of greenway," Main said.

During public remarks Monday, Wills Pike said the Planning and Zoning Commission, of which he is a member, had yet to endorse the protection of the Glemboski property as the agenda stated.

Mayor Ron McDaniel responded that was done in anticipation of the commission's approval to adhere to the timeliness of the grant application, knowing the commissions were at liberty to oppose it.

The application, originally due Sept. 30, has been extended for another month and requires that protection of the land is consistent with both towns' plans of conservation and development and is endorsed by the planning and zoning, the inland wetlands and the conservation commissions.

On Tuesday, the Montville Planning and Zoning Commission held a special meeting to work on the town's Plan of Conservation and Development for 2021-31 and discussed the Glemboski property.

Assistant Planner Colleen Bezanson said if the commission were to approve it, the property would go into the new plan. She has taken over writing the plan, since Marcia Vlaun, the town's planner, recently retired.

Some members of the commission voiced concerns about adding more open space to Montville and did not like how Bozrah was applying for the grant on behalf of Avalonia.

After some hesitation, the commission drafted a motion with five in favor, two opposed and one absent vote.

Alexander said via email Wednesday that once Bozrah has received approval from the commissions and town of Montville, he will just have to finish a written component on his end before submitting the application.

j.vazquez@theday.com

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