HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A bipartisan group of Connecticut lawmakers urged the state's environmental commissioner Monday to weigh in on a contentious land swap deal.
Democratic Rep. Richard Roy, Republican Rep. Clark Chapin and Republican Sen. Andrew Roraback asked Environmental Commissioner Daniel Esty to offer his opinion on the legal, financial and environmental aspects of the proposed land swap.
"We do not feel that we can responsibly act on this measure without hearing directly from you," the three lawmakers wrote to Esty.
Roy, Chapin and Roraback asked Esty to reply quickly because the legislature is set to adjourn at midnight Wednesday.
A spokesman for Esty did not respond to a call seeking comment. Esty has declined before to speak about the issue. He has responded to requests about the land swap with a letter advising residents to discuss the matter with local officials and legislators.
Developers are proposing to spend $60 million to build a hotel, stores and a train station to boost tourism in rural Haddam. The legislature is considering a bill that would exchange 17 acres needed for the development with 87 acres that the developers own.
Critics of the deal say the state land, which has been set aside for conservation, should not be used for development.
Sen. Eileen M. Daily, a key sponsor of the legislation and whose district includes Haddam, said the issue is about determining the best development for the lower Connecticut River. She and other backers of the proposed land swap say it would bring needed economic development and jobs.
Roraback said in an interview that by remaining silent, Esty is "abrogating his core responsibility."
"I for one am a little bit surprised that an individual commissioner with a high standing in the environmental community is not taking a stand on this," he said.
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