CHESHIRE — Town officials could soon be marketing nearly 50 acres of state land off Interstate 691 to developers pending final legislative approval.
The bill, an amended form of which needs a state house vote to pass, would transfer three state properties to the town for five years. Cheshire would attempt to sell the land during that time with the fair market value of the land going to the state.
Town officials have been trying to start development in the interchange zone of I-691 and Route 10 for years. The state land in the northeast quadrant of that land includes the commuter lot, which wouldn’t be part of any sale.
Cheshire Economic Development Coordinator Jerry Sitko said the town would benefit from the tax revenue of any development on the property.
“It probably would be much easier for us to market the property than the state,” he said.
The Connecticut Audubon Society and the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut had concerns about the plan.
In testimony to the General Assembly, Audubon Society executive director Patrick Comins said he preferred the land to remain open space.
Rivers Alliance executive director Margaret Miner wanted the bill to be more specific about proposed uses for the land and was worried about the impact on groundwater.
The bill gives the property to Cheshire to market for five years. The property would revert to the state if unsold.
Liz Linehan, a Democratic state representative for Cheshire, said a state review board will likely have to approve the land conveyance. The bill got support from both the state house and senate but an amendment giving the state Department of Transportation the area around the Route 10 commuter lot needs to be approved by the house.
Linehan said it’s on the consent agenda and expects it to pass as it did the first time.
DOT will also conduct its own appraisal of fair market. Linehan said that will avoid a situation where Cheshire owes the state money after the sale.
“This ensures that Cheshire will sell the land for an amount that the state believes is an appropriate amount,” she said.
The town valued the land at more than $3.1 million.
The interchange zone has been the site of planned developments over the years that have failed to materialize, including a mall and a shopping center.
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