Developer’s deal saves Hamden’s Rocky Top

HAMDEN -- For several years, developers have been engaged in a tug of war with Hamden residents and town departments over a plot of land known as Rocky Top.

The latest proposal was to for a massive apartment complex, but that deal is now also dead, thanks to something somewhat unexpected.
Aside from zoning regulations that would have been difficult to change, the 18 acres of highly coveted land, which includes hiking trails, will remain as is in large part because longtime residents fought to preserve it.

"This trail is the origin of the Connecticut blue trail system, which formed in the 1930's," said Jim Sirch, President of the Hamden Land Conservation Trust.

But, a the developer had other ideas for this serene land, on Rocky Top Road, in Hamden.

He wanted to build some 280 apartment units right back here, excavating more than 100 feet off this ridge," said Tim Mack, a nearby resident, who fought the proposal

An estimated 800 thousand cubic yards of earth would have been processed during the excavation, which itself would have taken a least a couple of years..with at least 100 thousand truck loads being moved out via an already very narrow, windy road.

"It would have been a shame, said Sirch, because the ridge features "some unique plants and animals. It also protects the soil from washing down hill. It protects the watershed as well."

An analyst for the Regional Water Authority some months ago determined that intense development, like the one that was planned, could negatively impact the public water supply.

"Once they drilled for the aquifers, it was over," said Ron Colaresi, another nearby resident. "You can’t mess with peoples' drinking water."

The developer removed the application last spring, with some thoughts of coming back with a more suitable application. However, the developer decided to do something somewhat unexpected.

"He donated the 18 acres of land to the Hamden Land Conservation Trust," said Mack.

Rocky Top was saved, permanently.

Tim Mack says dozens of objectors chipped in to donate over $30,000, which helped pay for the legal fees in this fight to preserve this part of the 800 miles of Blue Blazed Hiking Trails.