Margules: We Should Not Lose Sight of Context and the Bigger Picture

The Halls Road zoning food fight ramping up on the CT Examiner’s Facebook pages is a tempting distraction. The zoning is not perfect, and certainly needs review and revision, but we should not lose sight of the context and the bigger picture. The zoning proposal is just a way to implement and make real a future Halls Road described in the master plan. 

The key elements in the master plan were developed with significant input from the community and are widely supported. The HRIC incorporated the work produced by our consultant AdvanceCT including surveys, SWOT workshops, and an Economic Development Report. The HRIC conducted numerous open houses and presentations to a host of organizations including town boards and commissions. The committee received input directly from many residents and also received numerous letters supporting the vision.

The master plan ensures the future viability of our central retail area while making Halls Road beautiful and attractive to the businesses that are a good fit for our community.

The key elements of the plan are:

Maintain Old Lyme’s small-town New England feel and insure that future development is compatible with the town’s esthetics.

Provide baldly need housing options as an alternative to single family homes. 

Install sidewalks, crosswalks, trees, landscaping, a bike path and improved signage. 

Make Halls Road walkable, including a cool pedestrian bridge connecting Halls Road and Lyme Street so people can park once and walk, easily and safely. This will boost both the arts community and businesses on Halls Road. These elements will ensure the long-term viability of Halls Road and keep it alive after five PM.

Install a town green to foster a sense of community by providing a venue for small events and perhaps a framers market.

Maybe we can even get rid of that ‘Mayan ruin,’ the unfinished foundations in the strip center on the north side of Halls Road. 

Now let’s turn to the proposed zoning regulations that are designed to support the vision described above and guarantee the vision is obtainable. It has been correctly pointed out that some revisions are required to achieve this. The Zoning Board’s public hearing is the appropriate place to address these. 

Let’s all step back, stop the food fight, and encourage all of the appropriate boards and commissions to work together in a bipartisan way in order to achieve the Halls Road master plan vision that is desperately needed and widely supported.

I suggest you read Edie Twining’s and Mark Terwilliger’s letters to the editor located on the CT Examiner website (not their Facebook page). They provide a comprehensive picture of the project. Remember, the town’s major financial commitment is the right-of-way improvements on US Route 1. Private developers will do the rest, but only with the town’s input and guidance.

Howard Margules

Margules is a member of the Halls Road Improvements Committee, and the Economic Development Commission

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