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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Mashantuckets, developer continue to pursue RV park plan

    Preston ― The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the developer of a proposed RV park are seeking to appeal a court decision that upheld the Planning and Zoning Commission’s denial of the plan.

    Lawyers for the tribe and the developer, Blue Camp CT, filed a “petition for certification” this week, asking the state Appellate Court to review the decision rendered earlier this month by New London Superior Court Judge Josephine Graff.

    Graff found the commission was justified in ruling Blue Camp CT’s plan to develop the luxury RV park, or “glampgrounds,” on tribe-owned land at the intersection of Routes 2 and 164 was “incompatible” with the surrounding neighborhood.

    The site is just north of the tribe’s Foxwoods Resort Casino.

    The Planning and Zoning Commission voted in May 2022 to deny Blue Camp’s application for a “special exception” from zoning regulations, prompting the tribe and Blue Camp to file a lawsuit appealing the 4-3 vote.

    Commission member Denise Beale, who cast the deciding vote against the project, had said on the record that Blue Camp’s proposal was consistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development and complied with zoning regulations. She said she voted against the proposal because of public opposition to it.

    In their petition, the tribe and Blue Camp revive the argument ― rejected by Graff ― that Beale was bound to vote in favor of the project. Had she done so, the Blue Camp application would have been approved.

    “Beale’s stated grounds ― the opposition of local residents to Blue Camp’s application ― are simply not a legally permissible basis under Preston’s ordinances for denying an application,” the tribe and Blue Camp say in their petition.

    The petitioners also argue Graff erred in finding there was ample evidence to support the commission’s denial of Blue Camp’s application based on traffic concerns. Blue Camp had retained an independent traffic expert who concluded the proposed development would have no harmful impact on traffic, a finding the town’s own consultant found accurate, according to the petition.

    “If a small contingent of layperson opposition is sufficient to defeat a development plan extensively supported by expert testimony and complying with all zoning regulations, it will have a chilling effect on development throughout the state,” the petitioners say.

    Town Attorney Ken Slater said the town will respond to the petition. He said the court is likely to rule on it “in the next few months.”

    “If denied, the case is over,” he said. “If granted, the appeal process will typically run a year or so.”

    b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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