Stratford’s conservation administrator confirmed Thursday that the owner of the dam at Cook’s Pond has claimed that blasting at a nearby development caused damage to the structure.
Brian Carey said after he received the complaint from the Circle Drive resident about two weeks ago, he met with the man and a representative from AvalonBay Communities, which is currently blasting for an 130-unit apartment complex on Cutspring Road expected to start renting next fall.
“There is a leak in one of the wing walls that could have been there prior to blasting or after,” Carey said Thursday. “Whether blasting from Avalon caused the leak I cannot determine.”
Carey added that the dam has been in poor condition for years. A neighbor has said the structure was built about 30 years ago.
The town’s conservation administrator stressed that the issue is between the resident and the developers. Carey said he was present at the meeting two weeks ago to serve as a mediator.
“It’s a civil issue,” he said. “It’s like one property owner and another.”
The owner of the dam could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Resident: Blasts Rock Neighborhood
Carey said the developers have a blasting permit from the fire marshal’s office, which monitors seismic data and has not reported any violations since blasting began a couple weeks ago.
“Some of the blasts will knock you out of your chair,” a resident whose home borders the private pond and is closer to the development than the dam, told Stratford Patch on Wednesday.
The resident also claimed that blasting, which is expected to wrap up in three weeks, caused a neighbor’s foundation to crack.
“The blasting while it is annoying is legal under permit,” Carey said.
Dead Fish Not An Anomaly
Carey said he contacted the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) following his talk with the owner of the dam and AvalonBay. As water was leaking from the crack in one of the wing walls, state officials gave the dam owner approval to drain the pond, Carey said.
“The pond was drained as precaution under the authority of DEEP until their dam inspection unit can come down to the site and inspect the dam,” he said. “Once the resident meets with the DEEP dam inspection unit, I am going to require him to replace the weir board in the dam to fill the dam.”
The fact that the drainage resulted in the deaths of dozens of fish is not unusual or problematic, Carey said. He said species in a warm water fishery that is stocked like Cook’s Pond reach a “stunted population.” No endangered nature or wildlife was affected.
The drainage was “standard protocol (for) small pond management,” Carey said.
Town Vows To Keep A Close Eye
For years the town of Stratford fought AvalonBay in court to prevent this development from being built. A legal battle that started more than 10 years ago ended in 2012 when an Appellate Court rejected a final appeal from the town.
The town argued that the 130-unit, two- and three-bedroom development proposed certain environmental and public safety concerns. Those issues did not, however, include Cook’s Pond or the adjoining dam, according to Carey.
What made the case a difficult one for the town was the fact that AvalonBay filed its applications under the state’s affordable housing law. That put the town in a position in court where it had to prove its concerns outweighed the need for affordable housing in Stratford, which currently stands at 5.8 percent.
“The law is stacked against communities,” Gary Lorentson, the town’s planning and zoning administrator, told Patch earlier this month. “The intent of the law is good…but it allows developers to come in and totally disregard zoning laws.”
Town officials have vowed to keep a close eye on the development as it goes through its various stages. A webpage was launched this week that posts weekly reports and aims to keep things open and honest with residents.