Holiday Inn Express owner clearing land near Coogan Farm in Mystic

Holiday Inn Express owner clearing land near Coogan Farm in Mystic


MYSTIC — The owner of the Holiday Inn Express Mystic has cleared a 4.5-acre site at the top of the hill behind the hotel, but his plans for the property are not known.

An idle excavator and a dump truck, a pile of logs and an expanse of dirt could be seen Friday from the top of Clara Drive at the entrance to McQuade’s Marketplace, which borders the lot on one side. On the opposite side of the lot stands the Hyatt Place Mystic. To the left is a wooded area belonging to Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center, a 45-acre preserve owned by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.

Babu Moore, who owns the hotel, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Cassandra Meyer-Ogren, the nature center communications director, said the nature center staff had been answering a lot of calls from citizens in the community who thought the cleared land belonged to Coogan Farm. Some confusion stemmed from a Sept. 15 comment on the Stonington Community Forum on Facebook stating that the Stonington GIS site indicated the parcel was owned by the Denison Pequotsepos center.

Meyer-Ogren said the cener had been answering questions and letting people know that “we are not in fact the owners of that property. We’ve been assuring people that the nature center’s Coogan Farm will forever be protected as open space close to the heart of Mystic.”

The nature center was not notified in advance of the work and no plans for development of the site have been shared, she said.

“Land development is an inevitable part of the town’s growth and these concerns remind us why land conservation and preservation work is so important,” Meyers-Ogren said. It’s “why our campaign to save the Coogan Farm and the ongoing support from members and donors helps us steward the land and maintain the natural landscape in Mystic that we all treasure.”

Jason Vincent, director of planning for the town, said he and the owner had engaged in discussions about the property in the past about the property, but no formal application has been proposed.

“I’m guessing that they’re pursuing going forward, but nothing formal has been submitted,” he said. “As with any project, people are doing their due diligence — they need to get on the piece of property and take a look at it.”

He also said the landowners would need to do some “serious testing” to understand how to build something there by today’s ecological standards.

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