Mongeon Bay Properties will pay the town $62,500 as part of an out-of-court settlement regarding alleged violations of town ordinances. While Mongeon Bay must also make some landscaping changes as part of the settlement, the company does not have to alter what remains at the heart of tensions—a controversial new seawall.
According to Deputy Town Manager Geoffrey Urbanik, the source of conflict began with Mongeon Bay’s construction of a seawall, the designs for which were originally agreed upon with town officials. When the designs were carried out, however, they deviated from approved plans.
The town determined Mongeon Bay had violated its permit, which the company appealed to the state environmental court. In an effort to avoid a trial, the court ordered mediation, meaning that representatives from Mongeon and the town had to negotiate an settlement.
Urbanik also noted that the environmental court “does not have a firm track record of firm or large penalties,” meaning that, while the town may have had a strong case against Mongeon Bay, the real question would’ve been whether or not it was worth it.
“We felt that the monetary penalty was probably as far as we would get,” Urbanik told the Sun. “There was more than two days of face to face negotiations. We aired our grievances.”
This latest settlement is not Mongeon Bay’s first run-in with the court.
Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that Mongeon Bay had the right to break leases and evict 25 people from their homes, in a bruising case between Mongeon Bay and the Malletts Bay Homeowners Association—the former residents of it’s West Lakeshore Drive properties.
According to previous reporting by the Sun, each former resident held the deed to their home but not the ground on which it was built. After Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, Mongeon Bay took the association to court, citing inadequate repairs to a decrepit seawall that did not satisfy the terms of the lease. While the judge ruled in Mongeon Bay’s favor, directing the association to pay for the seawall repairs, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled on appeal that the inadequate repairs were grounds for termination of the lease.
This resulted in 25 residents losing homes they’d lived in for decades, leaving Mongeon Bay with the ruins of homes demolished in bitterness and a failing seawall.
In the current settlement, which the selectboard approved at a meeting on July 9, Mongeon Bay must input stormwater, wastewater, and landscape improvements. “We wanted permanency on how stormwater is handled across the site,” said Urbanik.
As part of the agreement, Mongeon Bay is required to do the following:
- Plant fifty-eight trees.
- Slope and plant areas between the first and second seawall tiers. Place designated walkways between these tiers.
- Prohibit storage of recreation equipment on the first and second seawall tier.
- Plant on bump-outs on third seawall tier.
- Remove proposed parking lots from atop septic tanks.
- Pave in a way that allows for drainage penetration to designate parking areas.
- Create stormwater infiltration uphill of seawalls.
- Plant grass on numerous areas proposed for parking and do not expand the number of designated parking spaces compared to the prior buildings.
- Restore Town right-of-way to provide drainage away from East Lakeshore Drive and on to the properties.
- Grade properties to accept stormwater from East Lakeshore drive, so as not to pool on the Town right-of-way or adjacent property.
- Complete the sea walls to the north end of the properties.