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Montville to hold public hearing on turning over roads to Mohegan Tribe

Montville — The Town Council will hold a public hearing July 19 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Town Hall to discuss turning Sunny Hill Drive and portions of Fort Shantok and Shantok Heights Roads over to the Mohegan Tribe.

The property surrounding the roads already was taken into trust for the tribe by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2015 under the Mohegan Nation Land Claims Settlement Act. The roads were not included in that process and are just now being incorporated into the trust by the federal government.

Mayor Ron McDaniel said by phone Tuesday that Montville residents will not be affected by the change.

In August 2021, the town signed an agreement with the Mohegan Tribe to begin the state-regulated process of terminating public rights to the eastern part of Fort Shantok Road, Sunny Hill Drive and a portion of Shantok Heights Road, and when the process is complete, to transfer the roadways to the tribe via a quit-claim deed.

The process requires the Town Council to hold the hearing and then vote on the transfer, then McDaniel would have to deliver the quit-claim deed.

The sections of road only provide access to tribal land, and only Mohegan tribal members live along the parts of the roads being turned over to the tribe’s control. In turning over the specified roads to the tribe, the town will no longer have to pay to maintain, repair or provide winter services for them. The Mohegan Tribe began servicing the roads last winter.

Town Planner Liz Burdick states in the Staff Report from October that “the roads, or portions thereof, have no functional use to the town,” and that snow removal, sanding and de-icing will be taken over by the tribe.

The agreement states that if the tribe fails to provide those winter services, the town retains the right to do it, and the tribe will reimburse the town for the services. The proposed quit claim will include an easement for the town and the Montville Water Pollution Control Authority to access and maintain the sewer system.

The Mohegan Tribe plans to erect a gate across the eastern portion of Shantok Heights Road to prevent access to Sunny Hill Drive.

The town will maintain ownership of all other portions of Shantok Heights Road and Fort Shantok Road.

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