Receiving Approval for a Project on Candlewood Lake

We have a project on Candlewood Lake. Our client has a sea wall that has been in place since the 60’s. All of the sudden, the seawall has been under water 3 of the last 4 years even though some of the summers have been bone dry. During those high water years, you have to wade through the water to get to the dock. Although wading across a submerged seawall is a hassle, the real problem is crossing a submerged, wooden cat walk. This situation is extremely dangerous. Many people have fallen off and have gotten injured in the process. It’s the owners hope to raise the elevation of the seawall 1 foot. That would then allow enough space to also raise the hardware that supports the catwalk out of the water. While we are at it, we are also hoping to raise an adjacent retaining wall 1′. Currently, mulch and sediment comes over the wall in heavy storms and eventually into the lake.

On a quiet mid week day, the water sits just below the sea wall on this Candlewood Lake waterfront

If you are looking to do any work along the lake, you’ll have to be patient. The approval process to work legally along the lake is long, tedious and often frustrating.

For the above project, we started the process in May. There were multiple site visits from both the town Inland Wetlands Commission and representatives of First Light. We submitted a landscape plan and application with the Sherman Inland Wetlands Commission and had approval for the project within a month. Once the project was approved by the Sherman Inland Wetland Commission, it moved to First Light. During this process, you often do not know the status of the project. Communication from First Light is minimal at best despite reaching out to them regularly. To get the First Light permit in hand took an additional 5 months. In this case, we did have approval earlier than 5 months but we were never notified. Even though we had a permit, there was a final application which was submitted with a Certificate of Insurance. That COI we originally did not meet the First Light requirements and once again the project was put on hold.

First Light Certificate of Insurance requirements are:

b.)   All policies shall be endorsed to FirstLight Hydro Generating Company and FirstLight Power Resources Services, LLC and name their directors, officers, employees and affiliates as additional insured with respect to any and all third party bodily injury and/or property damage; and require that thirty (30) days written notice be given to FirstLight prior to any cancellation or material change in the policy.

We have to submit COI to General contractors often and what we sent to First Light wasn’t sufficient. They actual require they they are added to the policy vs being the policy holder. My insurance company was willing to do this for an additional premium estimated between $50 and $150.

Once the correct COI was submitted, it took another couple of weeks before the permit arrived in the mail and we were allowed to start. At that point, it was late fall and we decided to hold off for warmer weather.

As an update, approval was given in the winter of 2016. In the spring of 2017, we raised the retaining wall by one foot. As of January 2019, we still are waiting to work on the seawall. To do this, we need the lake level to lower so we can stand on the water’s edge. Unlike, Candlewood Light and Power who religiously lowered the lake every winter, First Light does not. We are hoping that it eventually happens this winter and we get some warm weather to complete the work. First Light had a press release stating that the draw down would start December 1st but as of January, that has yet to happen. In the meantime, my client continues to stare at a pile of granite as it sits in the middle of their property.

The approval process to work along Candlewood Lake is what you would expect, partnering with a large utility company. It’s highly inefficient and time consuming. I tell all lake owners that patience is a virtue.

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Richard Schipul

For the last 30 years, I have owned the landscape company Designing Eden LLC based in New Milford, CT. We offer landscape designs, landscape installations and garden maintenance services in Fairfield and Litchfield County Connecticut. I am currently the only Nationally Certified Landscape Designer in Litchfield County and sit on the board of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and Mad Gardeners.


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