The City Council overwhelmingly voted down a proposal to sell fifteen acres of New Britain owned Class 3 watershed land to the town of Burlington, defeating the plan at its July 11, 2018 meeting.
The vote is a victory for Protect Our Watersheds CT and others who had opposed the sale. Protect Our Watersheds CT and others had been organizing opposition to the proposal to authorize Republican Mayor Erin Stewart to sell the fifteen acres.
While the resolution to authorize the sale, proposed by Ald. Jamie Giantonio (R-1) and Ald. Daniel Salerno (R-AL), says that Stewart had already approved the sale of the fifteen acres for $276,000 and that she recommended that it be approved, in the end, Stewart, herself, expressed skepticism about the town of Burlington’s evolving plans for the land.
The Council Majority Leader, Ald. Carlo Carlozzi, Jr. (D-5) recounted history of the proposed land sale, including back and forth debate in the Board of Water Commissioners, appointed by Stewart, and their ultimate decision to proceed with the sale of the land to a private developer.
But a state law required the city to first offer to sell the land to the town of Burlington, where it is located, before it could be offered to a private developer.
Carlozzi said that, in the presentation by the Town of Burlington at the July 9th public hearing on the land sale, “They were saying originally it was to do some recreational, and now they want to buy it unrestricted,” leaving it open for private development.
Stewart said that when she met with Burlington First Selectman Ted Shafer on his town’s desire to purchase the land, he had expressed plans for recreational use for the land, as a ball field for the town’s little league. But, she said, “unfortunately, what I heard last night was not that.”
Carlozzi said that Burlington residents, at a recent town meeting, decided that the town should purchase the land, and that it should be purchased with no restriction. “That leads me to believe that they would turn around and probably flip it to a developer,” he said.
“Correct,” Stewart interjected.
Carlozzi added, “My opinion right from the get-go – don’t sell it at all. Don’t sell it to the town for recreational. Don’t sell it to a developer. Don’t sell it to anybody.”
The final voice vote by the Council members defeating the plan was not unanimous, but was overwhelmingly in opposition.
“It’s not for sale,” said Carlozzi.