HARTFORD — The Appellate Court is expected to decide soon whether to rule on the lawsuit of Mystic Active Adult LLC against the Town of Groton Inland Wetlands Agency concerning the Four Winds “residential life care” community.
On Dec.13, 2006, five judges of the Appellate Court heard arguments in the case from GOSA, Mystic Active Adult and the Town of Groton. It was expected that the judges could decide in a matter of weeks if they think the case belongs at the Appellate Court level or should be sent back to the Superior Court and/or the Groton Inland Wetlands Agency.
The town and Mystic Active Adult both are asking the Appellate Court to rule, in effect ending the case in favor of the town. GOSA, however, wants the case remanded to the Inland Wetlands Agency for further consideration.
Both the town and Mystic Active Adult seek to have the court rule on the town’s appeal against a Superior Court ruling April 13, 2005. In that ruling, Superior Court Judge Joseph Purtill upheld Mystic Active Adult’s appeal against certain conditions the Inland Wetlands Agency imposed when approving proposed construction of a large “residential life care” community on 105 acres of the Watrous property off Noank Ledyard Road.
The IWA had disallowed one proposed wetlands crossing (Crossing C) near the northern boundary of the property and had imposed construction phasing and seasonal closings on the central road and wetlands crossing (Road A and Crossing A) connecting the two major nodes of the proposed project. These limitations, designed to protect salamanders, were targets of the developer’s appeal that Judge Purtill upheld.
The town in turn appealed the Superior Court’s decision, and the Appellate Court agreed to consider the appeal. But on Aug. 24, 2006, Mystic Active Adult in effect sued for peace. It filed a motion with the Appellate Court in favor of upholding the town’s appeal. About seven weeks earlier, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had imposed its own road closing schedule and construction restraints and it had put a conservation easement across the north of the Watrous property. The easement would appear to prevent Crossing C from being extended northward to another property near I-95 and thus perhaps diminished the potential value of the crossing.
However, the Appellate Court later threw a monkey wrench into the plans for an agreed end to hostilities by calling for a hearing to determine whether the court had jurisdiction. The Appellate Court said that Judge Purtill’s decision had actually called for remanding of the case to the Inland Wetlands Agency and thus might not be a final, appealable Superior Court ruling that could be heard by the Appellate Court.
At the Dec. 13 hearing, Atty. Michael Carey for the town and Atty. Thomas Londregan for the developer argued that Judge Purtill’s ruling was in effect final and that the town should prevail through an Appellate Court ruling in favor of the town’s appeal.
GOSA, an intervenor in the case, argued for remand. Attorney Richard Dixon, representing GOSA, told the judges, “This clearly is not a final judgment.” He said the case ought to be remanded to the IWA for a wide-ranging reconsideration.
The judges will consider their arguments in coming weeks.