NL zoning commission sends negative report on transfer of Fort Trumbull parcels
New London - The city's Planning and Zoning Commission on Thursday night voted to send a negative report on the potential transfer of parcels at Fort Trumbull from the city's development corporation to the city.
The negative report does not end the possibility of a transfer, but the approval of any transfer will now require five affirmative votes on the City Council, rather than only four.
Previously, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio requested that the City Council grant him authorization to, on behalf of the city, take title to parcels of land on the Fort Trumbull peninsula from the Renaissance City Development Association. The council on Sept. 15 sent the request to its Economic Development Committee, which a month ago recommended that the full council forward it to planning and zoning.
"Everything that I have seen, that has been put before us in this application, does not make me feel more comfortable with changing ownership," said commission member Tim Ryan, who made the motion to send a negative report. "I see increased risk, increased liability risk, increased cost to the city that have not been quantified to my satisfaction."
The commission voted 5-2 to send a negative report, with commission members Lloyd Beachy and Craig Powers dissenting.
The City Council also has debated what effects a transfer of land at Fort Trumbull would have and requested that city risk manager Paul Gills conduct an assessment of the parcels in question and the financial ramifications that the transfer would have for the city.
Gills concluded that the city's insurance costs would "not be greatly affected" by a transfer of the land. Gills concluded that liability, environmental and financial "risk to the city is considered low."
He estimated that the legal and title transfer expenses would cost the city a maximum of $30,000, though he added that "financial costs and risks to the city have yet to be fully quantified."
Gills recommended that a number of actions happen before the parcels are transferred to the city, including: completion of all pending or planned environmental remediation of the land, development of a written Department of Public Works maintenance plan, an increase of police patrols in the area and installation of "no trespassing" signs.
The RCDA has secured an Environmental Protection Agency grant to remediate one of the parcels that could be transferred to the city and the work to clean up that land is expected to take place early in 2015. Gills wrote that transferring that land to the city prior to environmental cleanup "may jeopardize the grant funding and require re-application with the EPA."
The land on the peninsula that could legally be conveyed to the city includes parcel 5C and lots in parcels 3C and 4A that the city does not already own. Parcels 3C and 4A include the former sites of homes taken by eminent domain to make way for developments that still have not been realized. The city already owns the lots that were part of the Kelo vs. City of New London Supreme Court case.
Land on the peninsula that was once part of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center must remain in the name of the RCDA due to federal Defense Base Closure and Realignment laws.
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