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    Sunday, May 28, 2023

    Commission vote dims prospects for proposed RV park in Preston

    Preston — Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission seemingly scuttled a proposed RV park on Mashantucket Pequot-owned land at the junction of routes 2 and 164 on Tuesday night, voting 4-3 against a motion that it be approved with certain modifications. 

    The vote, however, is not the final word on the project.

    Further action on the developer’s special-exception and site-plan applications for the project was unanimously tabled until the commission’s June 28 meeting.

    “People could change their minds,” said Richard Chalifoux, the commission vice chairman, who chaired Tuesday night’s meeting in the absence of Chairman Art Moran Jr.

    Prior to the vote, commission member Denise Beale voiced opposition to Blue Water Development’s proposed development, citing its proximity to Preston Plains Middle School and residences near Avery Pond. Joining her in voting against the motion for approval were members Charles Raymond, Doreen Rankin and Terri Eickel, an alternate.

    Voting in favor of the motion were Chalifoux, Mike Sinko, who made the motion, and Fred Eddy, an alternate.

    “While I feel the applicant has taken every effort in addressing the concerns of townspeople, I still have my concerns,” Beale said before the vote. “Though it complies with the regulations, it is a special exception. It’s the town's responsibility to review whether it is in the best interest of the town.”

    “In the end, it’s really our responsibility to represent the people’s wishes — that’s what a special exception is,” she said.

    Following the vote, Sinko said the commission’s only role is to determine whether an application conforms to the regulations.

    Town Planner Kathy Warzecha recommended approval of Blue Water’s applications, conditioned on a list of 23 modifications, including the elimination of several proposed campsites, the addition of certain buffers, restrictions on music festivals and the amplification of sound, and maintenance of the stormwater system.

    She said she must now prepare a recommendation that the application be denied, based on the objections of those members who voted against the motion.

    Tuesday night's vote came after both the planning commission and the town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission held public hearings that continued for several hours over multiple sessions.

    On April 19, the wetlands commission voted 3-2 in favor of issuing a permit for the project. One of the seven-member commission’s members was absent and three recused themselves, requiring two alternates to be seated prior to the vote.

    The RV park and campground resort would be built on three Route 2 parcels the tribe owns on Avery Pond. Much of the 65-acre site is in a resort commercial zone, while the rest is zoned for residential development.

    Residents of Avery Pond neighborhoods have opposed the project. A petition bearing the signatures of 400 people opposed to the project was submitted to the commission last month.

    In the face of the opposition, Blue Water downsized the project to 280 campsites and eliminated a dock, a boardwalk, tent sites along the pond and one bathhouse.


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