November 19, 2016 08:33AM
By Brooke Constance White Sun staff writer
STONINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission has approved a change to the Coogan Farm Nature and Heritage Center plan that will bring an end to McQuade’s Marketplace appeal of the commission’s approval in March of a trailhead and small parking lot at the end of Clara Drive.
When owner Michael McQuade first learned of the plan, he expressed concern that when there are special events at the farm, hikers would have to park in the six parking spaces at the end of the town-owned road, potentially overflowing into the marketplace parking lot.
In early November, the attorney for the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Edward B. O’Connell, sent a letter to the commission saying that the site plan would be modified to remove the trailhead access from the plan and that the existing fence along the Clara Drive would remain.
He also said that McQuade’s will be notified of any trailhead, parking or fencing modifications along Clara Drive. In exchange, McQuade’s agreed to withdraw the appeal it submitted in the spring to the state Superior Court in New London.
During the commission’s meeting Tuesday night, it was agreed that the solution was fair and both parties were satisfied with the outcome.
Director of Planning Jason Vincent said that court appeals often take a long time to become resolved. “All sides were also trying to find a solution outside of court,” he said.
Elissa Bass, director of marketing and communications for the nature center, said the center’s staff is glad that the issue has been put to rest and that everyone can move forward.
The next hurdle the center must face is the matter of a special event proposal for the farm. When a plan was proposed in early October, commissioners expressed concern about the magnitude and number of the events as well as what effect such events would have on Route 27 traffic.
Cassandra Meyer-Ogren, the nature center’s events and volunteer manager, is expected to return to the commission with answers to those questions.