Fewer boat slips are now proposed for West Cove Marina on Lake Lillinonah. Fischel determined that the final project will be limited to 136 slips and an associated gas dock for the fueling of vessels. This is a 24 slip reduction from the draft proposal of 160 slips.
FirstLight Hydro Generating Company wants the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sign off on the expansion of West Cove Marina, an existing marina on Lake Lillinonah, to provide additional recreational access and boat moorage in the Town of New Milford.
In response to concerns from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection about crowding in the narrow channel of the lake, FirstLight met with DEEP Boating Division Staff, the Lake Lillinonah Authority Marine Patrol Chief, GMS Rowing Club Staff and other stakeholders on September 2nd.
All parties agreed during the meeting that the boating safety concerns could be addressed by the expansion of the existing Connecticut Boating Regulations "Slow No Wake" restrictions from the mouth of the Lovers Leap Gorge to the Bleachery Dam, the navigational end of the Project. DEEP will seek to amend the boating laws to include the 10,500 foot long, approximately 83 acres area Slow No Wake Zone.
The parcel was purchased by Fischel Properties in 1988, with the intention of converting an existing industrial building to residential units and adding 250 boat slips in the river upstream of Lovers Leap State Park at the inflow to the project just below the Bleachery Dam. The property development didn't occur, but a full service marina was developed. In 1995, the marina was rented to West Cove Marina, which has operated it ever since. The slip count has varied over the years, but has operated continuously since it opened. Serious storm damage to docks in recent years has reduced the current number of slips to 22 to 25.
Fischel and an affiliated entity now propose to construct a new 109-unit residential building on the parcel, with enough slips for 136 boats at West Cove Marina, control of which will revert to Fischel.
Fischel has received the necessary zoning, site plan, and other permits for the mixed residential and commercial development project from New Milford. A permit application for the marina was finalized and submitted to the Town on October 5th.
FirstLight believes that approval of the reduced marina expansion plan will not adversely affect any project resources or public safety and is consistent with the shoreline management plan and other license provisions. Although a 50-foot-wide vegetative buffer is not possible, FirstLight says the expanded docks will occupy essentially the same shoreline area as the existing docks, so the existing shoreline vegetation will be minimally disturbed.
FirstLight is requesting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approve the application for a non-project use of project lands.
West Cove Marina is the only commercial marina on the river from the Shepaug Dam upriver to the Bulls Bridge Development. Lake Lillinonah has three multi-vessel noncommercial community docks. There are also 13 other recreation sites at the Shepaug Development, including several town parks, a bird sanctuary, and two state and four municipal public boat launches. These facilities offer a variety of recreational opportunities in addition to boating.