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Norwich wetlands commission orders Bozrah developer to correct permit violation

January 4, 2019

Norwich — The city inland wetlands commission on Thursday approved a “cease and correct” order against an assisted living complex being constructed on Route 82 in Bozrah after the developer did road work and installed utility lines across Goldmine Brook in Norwich without permits.

City Planning Director and wetlands officer Deanna Rhodes issued the order against project developer Optimus Senior Living LLC of Southampton, Mass., on Dec. 28, 2018, after receiving a complaint that the work was done without permits. Workers did have permits from the state Department of Transportation and had torn up a portion of Route 82 to install water and sewer lines from Norwich to the project, located just past Bozrah Home and Hardware.

But project officials told Rhodes and the Inland Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Commission during a hearing Thursday that DOT closed down the roadwork portion of the project for winter before they could install a natural gas line needed to heat the building.

Now, the group needs to get a permit to install a temporary natural gas line over the brook along a Route 82 bridge culvert, as well as file an application for permits from the city to run permanent utility lines beneath the brook in the spring. Rhodes included several conditions on the stop-work order, including that the new permit application must be filed by the Feb. 7 wetlands meeting to be reviewed and voted on at the March 8 meeting.

Barry Ellison, construction manager for Norwich Public Utilities, said the temporary line over the brook could be done in one to two days.

Rhodes told the commission Thursday that she was unaware of the roadwork prior to the complaint, except for an inspection she conducted prior to the roadwork at a property on the Norwich-Bozrah line, where materials and equipment are being stored temporarily for the project. Rhodes said the storage is not within 100 feet of any wetland and is not in violation of regulations.

Project engineer Ryan Geeleher of Geeleher Enterprises, also of Southampton, Mass., said he had numerous permitting meetings with Connecticut DOT officials and believed those permits were all that were necessary. Rhodes said the DOT permit contains language stating that the state permit doesn’t become effective until all local permits are issued.

“Lesson learned,” Geeleher said.

Christian Boysen, who represented Optimus Senior Living, told the commission that company officials “completely agree” with Rhodes’ correction order letter and conditions.

After the meeting, Boysen said the project will have 115 to 120 independent living, assisted living and memory care units. The developers hope to open the completed project this summer.

Norwich Public Utilities will supply the gas to the project but will not construct the line. The town of Bozrah will own the utility lines in that town once the project is completed.

Rhodes said she sent copies of the cease and correct order to the Bozrah first selectman’s office, town clerk’s office and to the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments.

c.bessette@theday.com

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