Letter: Comments on Zoning Change Not From DEEP

Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall


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To the Editor:

The CT Examiner article published on September 10, 2019, entitled “Old Lyme Zoning Commission Proposes Limits on Waterfront Building” referenced a letter written to Jane Cable, Chairman, Old Lyme Zoning Commission from Karen Michaels, DEEP Environmental Analyst, Land and Water Resources Division.  The article referenced a comment from Ms. Michaels’s letter saying that the “DEEP would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Zoning Commission on this initial revision of Section 4.3 to increase protection of critical coastal resource management areas within the community and addressing the impacts of future sea level rise to people and property.”  Ms. Michaels dated the letter on August 5, 2019. 

It should be noted that Ms. Michaels prepared and signed the letter.  Normal procedure is that a DEEP analyst will prepare a letter and it will be signed by a Director.  On September 12, 2019, a phone call to a DEEP Director in the Land and Water Resources Division determined that the Director was not aware of the letter until shortly before receiving the call.  When asked, the Director would not state if the DEEP supported the opinion expressed by Ms. Michaels because the Director had not read the letter. 

The letter Ms. Michaels wrote to the Zoning Commission is her opinion.  The letter was signed by her, not a Director.  While it is doubtful that the DEEP will comment on the letter and even more doubtful that they will retract any statement in the letter, it is clear that it is Ms. Michaels applauding the Old Lyme Zoning Commission, not the DEEP.      

The “applaud” statement was near the top of page one, but Ms. Michaels wrote nine (9) paragraphs on pages two and three listing concerns about the proposed revision to OL Zoning Regulation 4.3.  The concerns included but are not limited to whether the proposed text was to address new or existing properties, the lack of guidelines for determining if a structure would have an impact on surrounding properties, visual obstruction and consistency with a neighborhood, the existence of a “level playing field,” whether the proposed text changes are consistent with the goals and policies of the CCMA, and that the proposed text amendments are silent with respect to water dependent uses.  While Ms. Michael may “applaud” the Zoning Commission, she has recognized that the proposed changes to Section 4.3, in their current form, are incomplete and do not support the Old Lyme shoreline communities. 

A copy of her letter is attached. 

Harold Thompson, Chairman
Old Lyme Planning Commission

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