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Preston residents hear plans, express objections to proposed RV park

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Preston — About 50 residents heard a presentation Wednesday from the developers of a proposed RV park on the former Dawley Farm and then peppered project officials with questions and concerns about potential noise, traffic, water quality and neighborhood disruptions.

Blue Water Development, based in Maryland, is proposing a 300-site RV campground on the approximately 63-acre property near the intersection of Routes 2 and 164, just north of the casino. The company lists the project on its website as an upcoming attraction called Foxwoods RV Park.

Blue Water CEO Todd Burbage and project engineer Will Walter told residents the plans call for a main entrance at an existing entrance where crumbled asphalt is seen now. A reception area and recreation area would be near the entrance, with amenities such as a splash pad and bocce courts. A road network would lead guests to three different types of campsites: one where vehicles pull through the site, another where vehicles back in and a third type with tents for so-called glamping, or luxury camping.

The season would run from April to October, project attorney Harry Heller said.

A floating dock is planned on Avery Pond to allow for kayaking and canoeing. Burbage said while many of Blue Water campsites along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida have entertainment venues and attractions, the Preston site would be geared for Foxwoods Resort Casino patrons.

“There’s no way I can compete with that,” Burbage said. “Who will come here are Foxwoods people. They are already here.”

Burbage said the company was drawn to Preston after Foxwoods was looking for a way to remove RV patrons from parking in the casino parking lot. The national firm Kampgrounds of America recommended Blue Water to Foxwoods.

Residents expressed strong objections to the project, fearing light, noise and water pollution. Lynn Drive resident Carol Guffy, whose property abuts the pond, said she enjoys fishing in the pond and watching the bald eagles and osprey fly by. She said she was speaking on an emotional level.

“That’s all gone,” she said of the wildlife she now enjoys.

She asked the developer to “take it back from the pond” and leave all the existing mature tree line in place. Several residents are worried that the company will clear cut trees that now block the view of the Foxwoods casino, leaving them with a view of the casino from their homes.

Others said the small natural pond cannot support the proposed development. Resident Judy Eccleston said the small town of Preston could not support “this monstrosity.”

Burbage said the company’s business model is for 300 campsites but he would consider reducing the number of campsites.

Resident Michael Clancy expressed concern that Preston’s municipal services could not support the project. He noted that the town has trouble now responding to emergency calls.

“I don’t know if this is the highest and best use for this property,” Clancy said. “We already have a couple campgrounds in town.”

The development site is former farmland the Mashantuckets purchased from the Dawley family in 1994. Prior to the tribe’s purchase, town residents voted in a referendum not to buy it.

In 2016, a portion of the property was eyed as a site for a rock music festival. Neighbors opposed such use of the property, a factor in the event ultimately being held at a nearby location on the Mashantucket reservation.

The developers have had preliminary discussions with the developers, but no permit applications have been filed. Heller said the project will need permits from the town Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission and from the Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as from the state Department of Transportation. A traffic study also would be conducted before the permit process.

About 70% of the project design is completed, officials said. Heller said the group is aiming at filing a permit application with the town wetlands agency in July or August.

c.bessette@theday.com

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