Citing potentially irreparable harm to their business and serious public safety concerns, Orange Hotel Development LP has filed a lawsuit against the United Illuminating Company (UI). The lawsuit stems from a disagreement over improvements that were scheduled to be completed as UI develops its new operations center along Marsh Hill Road on land that formerly housed the Orange Cinemas. This property is adjacent to the Courtyard by Marriott, owned by Orange Hotel Development.
“When our company built and opened the Courtyard by Marriott in 1997, we secured an important consideration from town officials,” said Fred Branovan, hotel owner. “They recognized that an interconnect would need to be constructed between the hotel property and the cinema property should a new owner develop the cinema property in the future. Time and time again over the past year, UI promised it would abide by this provision - in public statements, in promises to us, and in plans that were filed with UI’s zoning application for the property. At the last minute, UI reversed course. This 11th-hour move threatens to harm our business. It also jeopardizes the safety of our patrons and everyone else who travels along Marsh Hill Road.”
Currently, hotel guests seeking to enter or exit the hotel property must do so via a narrow driveway along Marsh Hill Road that is not served by a stoplight but is directly adjacent to an exit and entrance ramp for I-95. During peak hours, traffic often lines up at this intersection. The congestion prevents patrons from making a left to proceed northbound on Marsh Hill Road. Additionally, motorists must cross multiple lanes of traffic, creating a potentially dangerous situation.
“UI plans to employ more than 1,000 people at its new operations center and a companion facility on the opposite side of the hotel property,” Branovan said. “Imagine how difficult it will be for people to travel along this stretch of roadway during the morning and the evening when you add that many cars to the regular traffic pattern. We’re concerned for our customers. Moreover, if our patrons cannot reach us safely, we fear they may simply go somewhere else, which is unfair to our business.”
UI’s original plans for development of the operations center site included the required interconnect between the center and the hotel property. This new driveway would enable hotel guests to access the property by turning at the stoplight located at the corner of Marsh Hill Road and the former Orange Cinemas Drive. They then could safely make a right onto the newly constructed interconnect that would run between the Outback Steakhouse and the hotel.
“UI clearly misrepresented its position throughout this process. They eliminated the interconnect from their plans immediately after our opportunity to challenge their zoning application expired,” said David Slossberg, attorney for Orange Hotel Development LP. “That presents a serious problem for the hotel, which is why we filed the lawsuit. The hotel’s owners only want what was promised, what was recommended, and what is best for everyone involved.”
The lawsuit filed by Orange Hotel Development LP seeks a halt to the development of UI’s property, a reinstatement of UI’s commitment to construct the interconnect, and both compensatory and punitive damages.