When government attacks

USS Minnow

USS Minnow at berth on Ole’s Creek

Brother Gideon and I received this email inquiry from a neighbor being harassed by the Connecticut DEP. For those of you unfamiliar with Ole’s Creek, the dock in question is down a nook in the creek, far away from navigable waters, and was certainly there when I was a young boy using the creek to access Long Island Sound. So why, after all these long decades, is the Department of Environmental Protection [sic] trying to tear it down?

Because it can, and that’s what bureaucrats do.

I live on  [XXX ] in Riverside. Our lane jointly owns a shared ‘beach’ and stone/concrete dock. We Have been put in the position by DEEP to prove that it was built before June 24, 1939, otherwise we must remove it (at a significant cost – and loss of a lot of wonderful memories). Of course, getting proof from 80 years ago has been a challenge.

The ‘dock’ was built and believe was part of the Palmers oyster business. We have a definitive photograph from Craig Walters from 1947 (where the dock looks quite old). Examination of 1929 and 1934 aerial maps show faint possibilities, but the resolution is terrible and the dock is so small it is too hard to see definatively. I was wondering if you know of anyone who is still living who might be able to provide anecdotal evidence (or of course a photo!) of the dock at that time. (The Hurricane of 1938 would be a memory trigger perhaps for them?)


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36 responses to “When government attacks

  1. Mickster

    Why would DEP even know it was there? Some neighbor drop a dime?

    • No, the DEP began a program of dock eradication about 10 years ago, and to accomplish that they sent summer interns on boats down the small bayous of the state to record every structure. Our neighbor on the other side was ordered to remove his dock because he couldn’t prove it had been built before 1965 (I don’t know when the DEP pushed the start time further back, but I’m sure it was because too many people could document 1965 docks). Our neighbor provided an affidavit from the son of the owner stating that he’d grown up on the property and they’d had boats tied to their dock since his earliest memory – he was born in 1953, so he’d have been 12 in 1965. That wasn’t good enough, and after thousands of dollars spent fighting it, my neighbor gave up and tore it out.
      Understand that NOTHING is being accomplished here by way of improving the water quality of the creek – it’s just a bunch of zealots, very much like our own P&Z lady, flexing their muscles.

      They actually came after my mother for the sea wall on her property, but years before I’d found a special act of the legislature, dated 1930, recorded on the land records, authoring the then property owner to build it. I sent a copy of that instrument to the DEP and told them to piss off, which they did.
      My one regret is that the special act actually authorized filling the area to the high water mark – if the owner had taken advantage of that, we’d have almost an acre more of land.

      • Anonymous

        Of course the unsaid observation is that our state government has too many employees with not enough work to keep them busy. They get paid above market wages, along with a unbelievable pension and medical plans. In the meantime our taxes are through the roof and anyone in the private sector wants to leave the state as fast as they can.

      • uminn65

        we, too, had the honor of dealing with ‘THE DEEP’ regarding our dock. the deep enforcer we dealt with explained that deep is looking at aerial photos from recent years [maybe satallite photos for the recent ones] and comparing them to photos from even the 30’s and 40’s, and then demanding that ‘new’ docks be removed, permitted, and rebuilt. the notice from deep will advise you that the penalty for non-compiance is $1000 per day. take that, you citizens. the ostensible gain from the new docks: they will be elevated over the existing mud, allowing air and some sunlight to reach the mud, which will in turn allow ‘spartina’ to grow. and, by the way, some states have labelled spartina as a nuisance and are seeking to have it removed wherever possible. so we spent tens of thousands of dollars on consultants, engineers and dock builders, and await the emergence of life-altering spartina. and, as a footnote, the guys [and gals] at deep are so self important that you must deal with them through a consultant at your expense. they don’t want to deal with ignorant and unwashed citizens. what a country.

        • Cos Cobber

          The Republicans are supposed to be waging the battle on this sort of bureaucratic heavy handed non sense, so where are they? Camillo?

          So what is the ROI for the environment for all this dock code upgrade work? Sounds like nil.

        • anon

          You didn’t address the issue that to me is critical- if you are forced to remove your dock, doesn’t that decrease your property value considerably? I’d pay more for a house with a grandfathered dock.

      • Fatdaddy

        Danny Malloy’s DEEP just announced new rules that will help balance his budget, so expect some howls. This bullshit legislation goes back to 2013. That idiot can’t do anything right…from hiring Dan Etsy, to “merging” the department. Bottom line…another tax. The state basically is just raising funds and avoiding responsibility with this:


        • Edgewater

          New dam reporting requirements from DEEP are a real head scratcher. The last paragraph, arguably expressing the rationale, says floods cause damage and kill people, CT has had floods that damaged a bunch of days, ergo. But are there any data or even a claim that deaths and damage during the 75 year period mentioned were caused by failure of private dams? No wonder the state is broke and folks are moving out.

        • Cos Cobber

          Democrats don’t believe in ROI analysis. To them, $$ is endless (just print more!) and every cause is a major priority.

          Environmental laws need to be balance with plain economic sense at some level.

  2. Ghost of the FAR Czar

    Been in the neighborhood to deal with the proposed dock work at 350 Riverside?

  3. Anonymous

    CF – somewhat off topic but please chime in on the sale of 94 Field Point Rd. 2 acres of prime Belle Haven direct waterfront that just sold for 10M. This price reflects a loss for the sellers who have owned the property since 1998. This is the best of the best of Greenwich waterfront so perhaps this really is the canary in the coalmine.

  4. Riverside Chick

    Does this inquiry have to do with the renovation at Ole Amundsun’s old house?

  5. AJ

    What about returning Boston and San Francisco to their original shorelines?

  6. If concrete mortar was used you can date it.
    Add in Tax Records & Property Survey.

  7. Anonymous

    Manley property has Major deed restrictions relating to the 70’s subdivision diminished value….

  8. vintage receipt

    they cant argue with a 1930 receipt fr build by contractor who has long died

  9. Anonymous@ 9:51am – of course it devalues your property to lose a dock – they don’t care because as Anonymous @9:14 notes – they have to justify their jobs! A dock dispute lasts YEARS and costs the owners10’s of thousands as our landlord found out. We can attest that they sent people in boats all along the water in OG and Riverside to find evidence of new boards on docks (do NOT repair or you will get hit with non-permitted work violation), and just docks in general. The boat that came by our old property got off on our dock and walked up into the back yard to look further. And yes – they won’t talk to you until you hire a consultant. This is something akin to eminent domain except that they make *you* pay.

    • Cos Cobber

      Just start video taping these people…it seems to be the thing to do.

    • anon

      I’m going out on a limb here and say it’s pretty logical to me to get a permit to repair an existing dock, if no other reason than to avoid the Nazi DEEP.

      • Haha, very funny, out on a limb. Replacing a few missing boards should not require a permit. It’s a waste of time and money. But yeah, you’re right.

        • anon

          If I owned a dock I’d put myself in the mentality of the DEEP and get a damn permit even if it meant paying for said permit just to change a few boards. They can only be beat by playing their own stupid game. It’s revolting that the government is so invasive. Permitting in the US is through the roof and is nothing more than the Fed ATM. But sometimes you gotta do if you want to keep a dock.

  10. Cos Cobber

    EPA news headline of the future:

    “Man Continues to Exhale Carbon Dioxide Without Permits – Fines Mounting!”

  11. Anonymous

    Instead of requiring people to spend a fortune removing the docks, they ought to charge a little less as a penalty and then grant the permit. This could help balance Malloy’s budget.

  12. LAK

    Seriously, dont they have anything better to do?!

  13. Football Ref

    historicaerials.com may help.