Shoring up Point Lookout embankment expected to stabilize entire slope

While no drilling or Novocaine is involved, a contractor plans to fill a gap in a seaside rocky slope at 75 Point Lookout that presenters likened to a “missing tooth."

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) unanimously granted a special permit site plan approval and Coastal Area Management approval at its Feb. 21 meeting. Michael Monteleone owns the half-acre property abutting the Long Island Sound.

Attorney John Knuff said property has a steep slope on the west side of the peninsula, like all the other properties in the area, and said this one has sustained considerable erosion. Knuff said that without stabilization, this property and neighboring ones are threatened.

“This is similar to a child with a missing tooth and my client is the gap,” said Knuff.

Engineer Timothy Onderko of Langan Engineering, New Haven, displayed pictures of the slope taken from the water, calling it a “sheer cliff.” Onderko said Hurricane Sandy in 2012 removed rocks from the bottom, causing the top of the slope to fall down and continue to fall down. He said a stone walkway to the rear of the property also fell down.

Onderko said 75 Point Lookout is “flanked by properties that have stabilized slopes.” He said the improvements would look identical to those done to the property on the south. All work would be done from the land, so no barge would be required.

The property to the south is a vacant parcel at 83 Point Lookout, which is owned by Point Lookout LLC. The LLC lists David Friedman of 300 Bic Drive as manager.

The plans incorporate some accommodations that were requested by Leslie Nicholson, who owns the property to the north at 67 Point Lookout, said Onderko, to match the work that was done on that property. Nicholson has an in-ground pool in her yard.

City Planner David B. Sulkis said John Gaucher, who is a coastal planner for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)’s Land and Water Resources Division, indicated in an email that he does not support the proposed work.

Sulkis said the plans conflict with the DEEP’s coastal management policy, which recommends against hardening the shoreline.

“It’s a policy issue,” said Sulkis. “They are not arguing against the engineering issue.”

Onderko said the state’s Coastal Management Act “looks to avoid hardened shorelines” because such shorelines deflect energy from waves to other areas of the shoreline. He said this project is different because “11 of 12 properties are hardened. We are the soft spot. We are the missing tooth from the shoreline,” said Onderko.

The only public comment came from engineer Joseph Wren, who was representing Nicholson, saying he had worked with her for a little more than a year.

“She is very much in favor of the work,” said Wren, commenting, “Minor changes along her property line were incorporated into the plans. They are very willing to work with us and incorporate everything of concern to us.”

Knuff responded to the comments from Gaucher by saying that Gaucher is not a professional engineer, but three engineers present at the meeting all support the work.

“What he is advocating is to continue to let the slope erode. We comply with the vast majority of the policy,” said Knuff. “If we had a pool, we could use hard materials. Without it, we have to use soft materials which allow the slope to continue to erode.”

Speaking in favor of the project, board member Jim Quish said, “I think the analogy of the child’s tooth resonates…it makes sense with a soft spot, it will continue to erode.”

Board member Richard Lutz said, “I understand the state’s position that soft is better than hard. Sometimes you have to look at existing conditions. There are hard surfaces on either side.”

Gaucher spoke in favor of stabilization plans at the board’s Feb. 2, 2014 meeting, commenting at that time that it is unusual for the DEEP to write a letter in support of such projects.

At that meeting, the board approved a flood erosion control structure and bluff repair at 39 and 45 Point Lookout, which are along the west side of the peninsula.

Among those voting in favor was Richard Varrone, the board’s newest member, who is filling the Third District seat left vacant by the resignation of former board member and vice chairman Edwin Mead. The Board of Aldermen approved Varrone for the position.

The DEEP has an article on soft versus hard surfaces along the shoreline at