OLD LYME — Claims that the Zoning Commission had decided to reject a project for storage units on Shore Road before properly considering the application, were among the complaints in a lawsuit filed last week against the town.
Kids Realty LLC and Pond Realty LLC filed an appeal in state Superior Court on Jan. 23 of a second denial on Jan. 8 by the Zoning Commission. If that decision is overturned, the developers plan to construct three 28-foot storage facilities on a 3.77-acre site at 250 Shore Road zoned for commercial use across from the town’s residential beach communities.
In the lawsuit, the developer noted that during the application process, the commission’s monthly agenda included a discussion of a moratorium on storage units or potential regulation changes to prohibit or limit storage structures. These discussions were included on the same agenda as the applicant’s “receipt of application” in September and subsequent public hearings in October, November and December, as well as the Jan. 8 meeting.
The lawsuit also alleges that an illegal public meeting was called on Nov. 10, a national holiday, to review drainage adjacent to 250 Shore Road and included a number of town officials, but excluded the applicant’s engineer, Bob Doane of Doane Engineering, who had requested to be included.
The meeting, which was not publicly noticed, was attended by a quorum of the Board of Selectmen — then-First Selectman Tim Griswold and then-Selectman Martha Shoemaker. Also present were Ed Adanti, public works director, Eric Knapp, land use coordinator, and Jeff Jacobson of Jacobson Engineering, the town engineer.
The suit states that the town’s public works director, Ed Adanti, called the meeting and that he had spoken in opposition to the project at the October hearing.
According to the Oct. 10 minutes of the Zoning Commission, Adanti “expressed concern about the enforcement of hazardous material restrictions and the resulting spillage or runoff going into the local waterways. Mr. Adanti recommended the Town Engineer review the plan and go back to the Zoning Commission with a recommendation.”
But in an email to CT Examiner on Jan. 30, Knapp said the meeting “was definitely called by Martha. She wanted Ed, Jeff and me to see the extent of the water under the overpass and talk about solutions.”
In a phone call with CT Examiner, Shoemaker said that the purpose of the meeting was to observe the flooding under the Cross Lane railroad bridge and to follow the flow of the water across Shore Road to Swan Brook.
By phone, Griswold said the meeting was intended to bring Shoemaker, who was soon to be sworn in as First Selectman, up to speed on flooding and water issues in that area.
Griswold acknowledged that the meeting probably violated public meeting laws, but said the meeting itself was immaterial.
“It was not to conduct business, it was just an informational thing,” he said. “There were no matters to be voted on then or afterward about the thing. It was just an introduction as to what was going on there.”
The developer withdrew its initial application in 2021 after more than 100 residents signed a petition opposing the project, citing concerns about traffic, the management of hazardous materials and children’s safety at a nearby school. According to a town hall spokesperson, there also wasn’t enough time within the 65-day application period to comply with conditions required by the town engineer and the state Department of Transportation.
Editor’s note: The project would construct three 28-foot-tall buildings, not 35-foot. This story has been updated.