CHESHIRE – Town officials are going to have to wait a little longer before marketing a piece of property in the north end of town.
A bill to convey property northeast of the Interstate 691 overpass from the state to Cheshire, and supported by local delegates, did not make it out of the State Senate following the addition of an amendment by State Sen. Mae Flexer.(D-29th District. That last-minute change forced the bill to be tabled on June 3.
The properties — 40 acres in total — includes the parcel on which an existing commuter lot is located.
State Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, expressed her frustration with the situation, saying that she had been working on getting the town the parcels since Dannel Malloy was governor.
“I am angry and disappointed that our conveyance, which had wide bipartisan support in both houses, was killed this session because a rogue senator put an amendment on it which I believe was completely not germane (to the bill),” Linehan said.
The Senate was unable to review Flexer’s amendment and vote on the bill before the end of the 2019 legislative session on June 5. Linehan said that she hopes a vote on the bill will be held during the state legislature’s special session but, if she is unable to get the conveyance passed this year, she will return in 2020 to try again.
Cheshire Economic Development Coordinator Jerry Sitko said that he was also disappointed.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “No doubt, the town will try it again next year.”
Although the town will not receive ownership of the land any time soon, Sitko is optimistic considering how much support the bill received this year.
“At least we made some traction ... as opposed to the previous year,” he said.
As proposed, the bill would provide the land to the town for five years, during which time town officials would be able to market it to developers. If a developer purchases the land, the money from the sale would go to the state’s special transportation fund, while the tax revenue would go to the town.
If the town is unsuccessful after five years, the state would reclaim ownership of the land.
Linehan said that she put the time limit in the bill to prevent the town from being permanently responsible for the land.
“My concern was that, if we pay for the land and can’t sell it, we’re stuck with it,” she said.
With Malloy, Linehan proposed a three-year term. With Lamont, however, she was able to extend that timeframe to five years. State representatives also supported removing the commuter lot as part of the conveyance.
“We can carve out that commuter lot so that the busway flow is not impeded and commuters still have a place to park, and we don’t have to maintain the upkeep of that area,” Linehan said.
Linehan added that some businesses have already contacted her to express an interest in developing the property, but she did not specify which.
“I have high hopes that we can get the right investor there,” she said.