I urge all to attend the public hearing, “An Environmental Impact Evaluation/Environmental Assessment.” It will be held Thursday, June 14 at 6 p.m. at Montville Town Hall.
This meeting is more about the future of Montville and its ability to obtain state and federal funding for future development and public improvement; than simply a discussion on the pros and cons of “The Villages” and any adverse impact its development might have on the cultural significance of the Mohegan Tribe.
This step of the review process is required under the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Connecticut Environmental Policy Act when federal and state assistance has been provided or applied for. In this case, the developer has already awarded $250,000 in state funding for preliminary site work and has submitted application for a federally guaranteed loan to continue the project.
Equally important, this $19 million project has an estimated annual tax revenues of half million, along with 100 new construction jobs. Unfortunately, an “Elephant in the Road” could permanently block its path - a Proposed Traditional Cultural Boundary (TCP).
Since the inception of this project in 2005, the Town, and developer, Vizion Enterprises, have worked together throughout the planning, and evaluation sessions. Only in 2011 did the Mohegan Tribal Members voice objection. The Villages is adjacent to their elder housing community. Conversantly, shocking to the town is the recent Proposal by the Tribe that the entire area of Mohegan Hill should be eligible as a Tribal Cultural Properties Boundary (TCP), under the National Historic Register…if granted could effectively kill any prospective development within the identified Route 32 corridor… forever.
With respect to the Mohegan Tribe’s new position to protect cultural properties in the Mohegan Hill area, their application for a federal permit to construct the power substation indicated there was nothing culturally significant in the Mohegan Hill area. In fact, the entire area has undergone extensive commercial and residential development, and therefore lacks the required INTEGRITY to be listed.
Coincidentally, The Villages developer, Vlad Coric, M.D. was born in raised in Montville.
Mr. Bunnell, Chief of Staff of the Mohegan Tribe’s assertion that “Traditional Cultural Property Boundary is nothing new.” According to Dan Forrest, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, it is the first formal TCP evaluation undertaken in Connecticut.
Moreover, when asked if such a boundary would have significant impact on future development in Montville, and potentially interfere with the ability of future applicants to secure federal funding (including guaranteed loans) for similar projects that fall within the affected area, Mr. Forrest responded… he’s not a planner or economist and therefore, could not comment on the potential economic impact of the review process for the Town.
Under TCP guidelines, the traditional cultural significance of a historic property plays in a community’s historically rooted beliefs, customs, and practice, and is central to federal consideration, as to the federal historical preservations laws and regulations pertaining to properties either listed in the National Register or eligible for listing.
Formal listing a TCP on the National Register would require the consent of majority property owners within the district boundary, approval by state review and National Park Service’s National Registry, in Washington DC.
However, a formal finding by HUD that the Mohegan TCP is NR eligible would mandate any project within the Proposed TCP Boundary consultation with the State Historical Preservation Office, Mohegan Tribe, and the Town to assess potential effects to the TCP before approval of state or federal assistance; privately funded projects would not be subject to such review.
Although, this doesn’t necessarily mean the Mohegan tribe will control development, “Individual property owners could sell their homes, build swimming pools, and paint their barns “pink;” the broader issue hinges upon effects of the TCP would have on any federally funded projects for Montville, and undoubtedly suffocate any significant future economic development…
All are urged to attend June 14 Public Hearing!