Chronology of Events
North Stonington and Firefly Farms
96 Button Road
North Stonington, Connecticut
1. On October 3, 1972, Howard Brown, Clifford Oat, and Harold Dahl gave for $1 and other considerations 127 acres on land on Button Road to the Norwich Young Men’s Christian Association. The Deed stated that “This conveyance is made subject to the express condition that if the grantee or its corporate successors cease to own said described real estate, then in that event title to said real estate shall vest in the Town of North Stonington for use as open space."
2. In 1988, the YMCA and an abutting neighbor, H. David Geer, entered into an agreement to exchange land because the Norwich YMCA wanted to create a lake for recreational purposes.
3. On May 31, 1988, a town meeting was held in North Stonington to act upon the land exchange. The agreement between the Norwich YMCA and Geer provided that the YMCA was to give Geer 28 acres of the parcel it had owned since 1972. In return, Geer was to give the Norwich YMCA 35 acres. A voice vote carried the resolution. There were three dissenting votes.
4. On October 3, 1988, the Norwich YMCA gave H. David Geer the 28 acres as acted upon by the town meeting on May 31, 1988.
5. On October 3, 1988, H. David Geer gave the Norwich YMCA 35 acres as acted on by town meeting on May 31, 1988. The deed contained language that “(t)his conveyance is made subject to the express condition that if the grantee or its corporate successors cease to own said described real estate, then in that event title to said real estate shall vest in the Town of North Stonington for use as open space”.
6. On October 13, 1988, the deeds to complete the land exchange were recorded on the North Stonington land records. Thus, the YMCA owned 92 acres of the original tract and 35 acres given by H. David Geer.
7. On October 16, 1989, a document entitled “release of Reverter” was signed by the First Selectman that incorrectly indicated that the release referred to the entire 120 acres originally give to the Norwich YMCA in 1972.
8. The First Selectman only intended to release the town’s interest in the 28 acres of land give to Geer as provided for at the May 31, 1988, town meeting.
9. Dated November 22, 2010, Letter Hand Delivered by First Selectman Mullane and Attorney Frank Eppinger to Chelsea Groton Savings Bank expressing the Tonw’s interest.
10. On June 24, 2011 the Norwich YMCA sold the property to Van Brown, Trustee of the 96 Button Road Trust. The deed indicates that Van Brown took the two tracts, the 92 acres and the 35 acre parcel, subject to the purported rights in favor of the Town of North Stonington as to the property given to the town by H. David Geer.
11. For more than a year the Town of North Stonington has been in negotiations with Van Brown, Trustee in an effort to preserve some or all of the land for use as open space by the Town of North Stonington as was intended by Brown, Oat, and Dahl in 1972.
12. Dated February 1, 2013, Van Brown settlement offer by Robinson Cole Attorney Pelosi
13. Dated February 22, 2013, Town of North Stonington’s counter-offer, letter by Attorney Avena
14. On Aril 16, 2013, Van Brown presented a petition to the North Stonington Town Clerk requesting that a town meeting be held to require the Board of Selectmen and State of Connecticut to give up all claims to the property.
15. May 2, 2013, Letter from Attorney Robert Avena, Property Reserved for Charitable Purpose
16. May 3, 2013, Town of North Stonington filed suit against Van Brown Trust
17. May 6, 2013, Town is in receipt of a letter from Attorney Avena on the Petition of Van Brown regarding 96 Button Road, North Stonington
It is the position of the Board of Selectmen that the petition be rejected at the Special Town Meeting to be held on May 7, 2013, and Referendum scheduled for May 14, 2013, to give the town an opportunity to pursue its claims with the Attorney General and Courts