US Army Corps of Engineers calls on New Canaan developer to stop work on wetlands crossing Hill Street


NEW CANAAN — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has recommended developer Arnold Karp stop work on the wetlands that cross his property on Hill Street — land where neighbors have openly petitioned Karp, fearing he may be used for affordable housing.

The USACE regulates construction in waterways under the Rivers and Harbors Act and has authority over the dumping of dredged or fill materials into water bodies and wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Any entity, whether commercial, municipal, private, or public, must obtain a USACE permit if the work involves the dumping of dredged or fill material into waters or wetlands.

Although he did not issue a cease and desist letter for the area owned by Karp near Brushy Ridge Road, he instead “recommended that the proponent stop all work in wetlands or waters until ‘until the problem is solved,” said Elizabeth D. Gosselin, USACE Chief Business Officer. Thursday.

Karp said his organization will be filing the necessary paperwork with USACE in the “next two weeks or so” and that no work is currently being done on crossing the wetlands.

According to Gosselin, a “letter of inquiry” was sent in March to Karp “based on local complaints” about the construction of an access road that passes over a culvert.

Neighbors of the property have formed an organization called New Canaan Residents Against Destructive Development (NCADD) in hopes of stopping work on the property indefinitely.

Although no formal application for the property has been filed with the city, NCADD is concerned that Karp is planning a 101-unit development as part of general sized 8-30g affordable housing, based on draft site plan submitted to Fire Marshal Paul Payne.

Karp, who has expressed support for affordable housing, said the site plan was a hypothetical exercise and an application could be filed with the city for the property within the next two months. It wouldn’t say what the app will understand.

“The developer did not apply for a permit and continued to work after notification of the need for federal authorization,” Gosselin said.

Karp said he was filing for a permit “after the fact” because his engineers and wetland experts were unaware that a permit with USACE was required. “We thought we were doing everything we were supposed to do,” he said.

Karp, a well-known developer in New Canaan, has drawn ire from some residents and city officials for his penchant for multi-family developments. He filed two pending applications for such buildings under the state’s General Statue 8-30g, which allows developers to circumvent local zoning laws. He applied for a 102-unit project at 751 Weed Street and last week he applied for a 20-unit project on Main Street, both planning to provide affordable housing. Unlike in previous years, the city currently does not enjoy the protection of state-sanctioned 8-30g moratoriums.

USACE regulatory and technical experts met with Karp at the Hill Street site in late May and “discussed the steps to be taken and the information to be submitted to resolve the violation and bring work to the site into compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Karp said the meeting with USACE went well and he felt the completed work was done according to regulations.

USACE authority is limited only to the dumping of fill material in wetlands and the culverting of “a small intermittent stream upstream.” He does not have the power to dictate the use of the plot of land.

“As with all projects, we will continue to work with the proponent/applicant to ensure that work conducted at the site meets federal regulatory requirements and avoids, minimizes and potentially mitigates, where necessary, adverse impacts on aquatic resources” , said Gosselin. . This is the first time that any of Karp’s potential developments have come to USACE’s attention, according to Gosselin.

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