Branford Land Trust Files Lawsuit to Protect Wetlands on Gould Lane
The Branford Land Trust (BLT) filed a lawsuit in New Haven Superior Court against a North Haven developer constructing a housing development off of Gould Lane in Branford. Image Capture from Google Earth )
April 29, 2020 - The Branford Land Trust (BLT) filed a lawsuit in New Haven Superior Court this week against a North Haven developer constructing a housing development off of Gould Lane in Branford. The BLT is suing DonMar Development Corporation and its president, Mario Digioia, seeking an injunction to stop erosion that is causing water "the color of chocolate milk due to the vast amount of sediments and soil to wash out into the BLT's wetlands on the neighboring parcel," said BLT President Peter Raymond.
"We have been trying to get them to control the site for over a year, but they have not stopped the erosion, which has occurred with every rain storm, and now we have a polluted wetland. Regrettably, we had no choice but to seek help from the courts," Raymond noted.
DonMar's site has been a hot topic of discussion at Town inland wetlands meetings for a year, with promises of compliance being made and broken repeatedly. More recently, the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection has stepped in to try to get the site back into control.
"DonMar's response seems to be that they will seek forgiveness once they have built all of their units rather than stop dumping sediments into the wetlands. That's not how wetlands protection works," explained Keith Ainsworth, the New Haven attorney representing the Trust in the court action.
In a June 19, 2019, a report from soil scientist William Kenny stated "we find that the development has adversely impacted wetlands and that the primary reasons for the impacts are an excessive and non-compliant amount of land disturbance and insufficient measures to adequately prevent the discharge of sediments and turbid surface waters to the wetlands."
The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and money damages for the cost of restoring the wetlands to their natural condition. "The Branford Land Trust prefers to protect its properties through cooperation, but DonMar responded with wild threats of litigation and accusations of extortion. They didn't leave much room for reasonable discussion," Ainsworth noted.
The Branford Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, accredited by the Land Trust Alliance, established in 1967 to protect Branford's open space and natural resources. Run by volunteers and supported by member families and businesses, the Land Trust manages and protects over 1,000 acres in more than 130 parcels and holds conservation easements on another 400 acres in Branford. For more information, visit www.branfordlandtrust.org.