Oswegatchie Hills Lawsuit

Location: East Lyme, Connecticut | Status: Active

Summary: On October 22, 2021, a judge ruled in favor of Save the Sound’s efforts to protect 236 acres of coastal forest threatened with destructive development. The court adopted Save the Sound’s arguments and rejected the developer’s challenge to the zoning commission’s preliminary decision as premature, ordering the developer to file a final site plan that includes all of the environmental details missing from its preliminary plan.    

While filing a final site plan is necessary to move the process forward, it has been two years and the developer has failed to file a new application.  

“This is the fourth Judge over 17 years to recognize the substantial environmental interests in preserving the Oswegatchie Hills and the Niantic River and to uphold the Commission’s obligations to thoroughly consider and protect these interests before allowing ultra-dense development that could destroy them forever,” said Roger Reynolds, senior legal director at Save the Sound. “The applicant will finally have to disclose their detailed plans and we look forward to presenting in-depth, science-based information about the devastating and irreversible impacts that this 840-unit monstrosity would have on wetlands, coastal forest, and the Niantic River.” 

The Oswegatchie Hills is an exceptional and undeveloped steep sloped coastal forest that forms the last undeveloped mile on the Niantic River. It is also threatened with development that would eliminate habitat and pollute the river which is already suffering from water quality problems. The battle has been raging for two decades and has been to court 3 times. 

Latest Step: The court sided with Save the Sound attorneys and denied the developer’s appeal to overturn the preliminary decision and stay the matter pending action by the commission. The developer was ordered to supply the necessary environmental and other information for the commission to adequately consider the final site plan and rezoning but has not done so yet.

Next step: The developer has indicated to the court and the zoning commission that the next site plan it intends to file will extend the development futher into the hills beyond the sewer district. If and when that happens we will seek to have the plan rejected on the grounds that it violates the East Lyme Water and Sewer Commission regulations and would constitute unreasonable pollution in violation of the Connecticut Environmental Protection Act.

Further Reading:

Action Opportunities:

Last Updated: November 24, 2023

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