05/03/2007

River Oaks presented in Simsbury, opposition grows

By:Glenn Shafer , Staff Writer

 

Last week, Konover Development Corporation presented designs to the public and four town commissions at Simsbury High School for a $200 million project called River Oaks, a mixed-use development proposed for 60 acres off of Route 10 in Simsbury. The presentation was in anticipation of their pending development application.

River Oaks will be located near the Avon town line, partly occupied now by a Connecticut Light and Power maintenance facility. The project will consist of 210 homes, 159,000 square feet of office space, and 381,000 square feet of retail space, including a "big box" Target store.

The opposition to River Oaks appears to be growing despite the fact that the application has yet to be submitted. SHARE continues to pull together residents concerned about how the project may impact the environment and traffic.

One resident, Todd Angus, said his concerns about the project stem from the appearance of numerous conflicts of interest that connect individuals in positions of influence to the Konover Development.

"The overall general tone of how Konover is presenting this project is a concern," said Angus. "They handed out River Oaks water bottles at the recent MS walk as if the project was a done deal. That has soured some people. There certainly are connections that have been placed. Some of the connections seem to be close, fairly well documented. Who do they work for? Who are their clients? You have to ask, 'How are these decisions being made?'"

Angus said the Nod Brook Wildlife Refuge, land owned by the state of Connecticut, adjacent to the project, is another concern. He contends water runoff will contaminate the area.
"All that water will drain off somewhere," said Agnus. "It will drain toward the river."

Another opposition group, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, turned out for the Konover presentation.

"We are in favor of development but in this case, we agree with the local smart growth advocates," said Tim Sullivan, a representative of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters who released a prepared statement.

"The last time that Konover was active around here, they told the town of Canton openly that they were going to build a strip mall. Local taxpayers shot it down. Now Konover is presenting this and other ventures as mixed-use projects but we're pretty sure what they really have in mind is cookie-cutter big box retail because that's always been their game."