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Thursday, March 22 Local

Intervale project delayed

The $1.5 million Intervale Road drainage project is at a standstill until the town can obtain the necessary easements.

None of the 10 easements -- four permanent and six temporary -- have been granted, according to Darren Oustafine, the assistant director of public works.

A total of 7,600 square feet of residential property will be disturbed.

The permanent easements grant the town rights to a piece of the private property to build upon for construction and to maintain the pipelines and property above them.

The temporary easements grant the town the rights to a portion of the property for just the duration of the project.

Permanent easements are needed on Rose Lane, Park Lane, Intervale Road and Devon Road, while four temporary easements are needed on Park Lane, one on Intervale Road and another on Devon Road.

Obtaining the easements is taking longer than anticipated, Oustafine said, but he knew from several Environmental Protection Commission public hearings that some people were against the project "right from the start, right out of the gate."

However, there also were homeowners who supported the project.

The plan, which will widen pipes and install more catch basins and a 2-by-6-foot cement box culvert at 95 Rose Lane, is designed to alleviate draining issues along several roads.

The wider drainage pipes will allow the water to flow faster toward the final desired location in the Noroton River. The drainage outlet will be behind Park Lane.

The project will cost an estimated $1.5 million and take approximately seven to nine months to complete.

The construction costs of the project are roughly $1.27 million, with an additional $300,000 for project oversight, fees and inspections.

The project -- which is an outgrowth of the 2010 Noroton Watershed Study -- is expected to improve the drainage, not decrease flooding in the area.

The property that will have the most disruption will be 95 Rose Lane. Roughly 3,300 square feet would be disturbed on the property -- 165 feet down the property line and 20 feet onto the property. The homeowners could not be reached for comment.

The project falls within the Noroton River Watershed. The Intervale drainage project accounts for just 46 of the 7,065 acres that make up the entire Noroton River Watershed.

Bob Steeger, the director of public works, told the EPC in August that the project had a completion date of May 1, 2014.

However, because the easements have not been granted, the construction timeline was pushed back.

"We could probably start by the end of the summer, beginning of fall, if we had all the easements now," Oustafine said.

"I'm very hopeful that folks will see the value in this project," First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said.

When asked, Stevenson said eminent domain could be considered, but is not something that necessarily has to be. Eminent domain is the court-ordered seizure of private property for public use.

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"It's a very heavy government hand and I don't favor that," Stevenson said.

She added that she's not sure a solid "plan B" exists if the town cannot get all the easements needed.

To alleviate the flooding and drainage problems, Stevenson said "pipes have to go across roads and properties."

Oustafine said the easements were strategically placed directly adjacent to property lines, so the homeowners would not lose more buildable areas than necessary. The easements on properties that are downstream and nearest the Noroton River are being sought first, Oustafine said.

Town Counsel John Wayne Fox could not be reached for comment.

The Department of Public Works "incurs a great risk" if it attempts to move forward with the project before it is granted all of the easements and can be fined if it delays the contractor's work.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583;@Meg_DarienNews