Neighbors in Noyes Road Neighborhood Voice Concerns About New Development

OLD LYME — At a public hearing of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday night, about 10 residents of the Noyes Road neighborhood voiced opposition to allowing a variance for additional height for a proposed house, citing concerns of flooding, drainage, water quality and aesthetics.  “This lot has been historically under water. It was trees and held excessive amounts of water, it was a natural catch basin,” Clare Cain, a 7-year resident of 1 Noyes Road, told the Zoning Board of Appeals. She held up pictures showing water ponding on the property at 5 Noyes Road where property owner

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Old Lyme Officials Evaluate New Bids, Search for Funding to Offset High Sewer Costs

OLD LYME — Town officials are evaluating a series of bids to install a pump house, force main and trunk pipes for new sewers in a handful of neighborhoods along the shoreline. At $14.1 million to $21.1 million, new bids range from about 20 percent lower to about 14 percent higher than the original bids of $17.5 and $18.5 million, which were deemed too high by the town and the three private beach associations sharing the cost of the infrastructure. By law, the town must accept the lowest qualifying bids, if the project moves forward, at a cost that would

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Residents Pack Old Lyme Town Hall to Debate a Racism Resolution

OLD LYME — In a packed town hall meeting on Monday afternoon, residents spoke passionately for and against a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis — to wild applause on both sides — while two state troopers, one Old Lyme policeman and the police dog “Tazz” stood guard in the foyer.  The resolution has only appeared on three meeting agendas — on Sept. 8, 2020, Sept. 22, 2020, and Oct. 5, 2020, — and was not on the agenda for Monday, but Selectman Mary Jo Nosal has asked the Board of Selectmen to consider a resolution at every meeting

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Groton Republicans Field 7 Candidates in Bid to Retake Town Council

GROTON — After four years of Democratic control, the Groton Republican Town Committee is running seven candidates for seats on the town council on a platform of government transparency, opposition to the Mystic Oral School project, a return to civility and public input to council meetings and fiscal responsibility. “I think we can start by saying that we’re running on a platform of accountability to the public and that one-party rule has been bad for the community in the sense that there’s been a lot of conversation and decisions that have been made in kind of the old-fashioned cigar smoking backroom,

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Groton Democrats Make a Case for Town Council

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GROTON — Democrats have held all nine seats on the Town Council since 2017 when they swept the election, a victory that followed years of Republican control of the council.  This year five Democratic incumbents are campaigning with four newcomers, hoping to beat the seven Republican candidates on the Nov. 2 ballot.  One of the factors that led to the Democratic sweep in 2017 included the council’s cut of about $5.2 million from the school budget after Gov. Malloy’s office threatened to eliminate state school funding.  In an email to CT Examiner, Natalie Billing, vice chair of the Democratic Town

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Packed Agenda, Late Night for Old Lyme Zoning Commission

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OLD LYME — The packed agenda of the Zoning Commission, which stretched beyond four hours Tuesday night, included an application for a convenience store for a gas station on Halls Road, the prohibition of marijuana establishments, an amendment to create the Halls Road Village District, and the installation of a bus shelter in Sound View on Shore Road. Continued from the Sept. 14 public hearing, the convenience store proposed for the gas station at 85 Halls Road drew a number of comments concerning hours of usage, traffic levels, and appropriateness for the town.  The project, proposed by CPD Energy Corp. of

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The Essex moves to Old Saybrook, as Colt Taylor Looks Ahead

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OLD SAYBROOK — Chef Colt Taylor received approval from the Zoning Commission on Monday to relocate his flagship restaurant, The Essex, to 247 Main St. in Old Saybrook, the site of a former bakery.  The Zoning Commission unanimously approved a special exception for a restaurant with 42 indoor seats in the building’s 1,500-square foot first-floor space, as well as up to 20 outdoor seats. The commission approved the conversion of the building’s second floor from office space to two 700-square-foot accessory apartments on March 15.  Taylor said he “fell in love” with moving the restaurant across from the Katharine Hepburn Cultural

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Stonington Voters Reject Tax Abatement for Affordable Housing Developer, Approve Cannabis

STONINGTON — With heavy voter participation on Tuesday, residents rejected a previously approved fixed tax assessment for an 82-unit affordable housing project slated for the Campbell Grain property in Pawcatuck. Voters also rejected — 2,106 to 1,816 — a cannabis prohibition ordinance, clearing the way for the town to allow one cannabis retailer and one grower in both the Town of Stonington and the Borough of Stonington. Residents voted 2,764 to 1,173 to reject the 10-year $690,748 fixed abatement for developer WinnDevelopment that had been approved by voice vote at a town meeting on August 9. The company would have

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Tax Abatement at Issue as Campbell Grain Moves to Referendum

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STONINGTON — A referendum on Tuesday to stop a previously approved tax abatement for an affordable housing project in Pawcatuck has exposed financial and social rifts in the community that extend into town politics.  At the Aug. 9 town meeting, residents approved by voice vote a $690,748 tax abatement over 10 years for WinnDevelopment, an affordable housing developer that has proposed the construction of 82 apartments — including 65 affordable units— on the long vacant Campbell Grain property, a 1.89-acre parcel at 15 Coggswell St. and 27 W. Broad St. According to the agreement, WinnDevelopment will pay $695,000 in taxes

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Richard Ziemann’s Intricate Landscapes Open at Chester Gallery Tonight

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CHESTER — A luminous field of dandelions drawn in pale silvery gray graphite, rendered with breathtaking precision and delicacy, hangs above the fireplace in the front room of the Chester Gallery. “I can work on a drawing for a long time. I’m working on a drawing now — it’s on my dining room table  — that I started probably six months ago,” said artist Richard Ziemann, who is showing about 70 of his drawings, etchings and engravings at the gallery from Oct.1 to Nov. 20, along with works by his sons, Eric, Jeremy and Kurt Ziemann.  Ziemann, who has lived

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$400,000 Purchase of Open Space Heads Toward a Vote in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — The Open Space Commission has signed a contract for $400,000 to purchase a 35-acre lot on Whippoorwill Road adjacent to the town’s 195-acre Ames Open Space property. In a phone call with CT Examiner, Open Space Co-Chair Amanda Blair said that the commission had approached the owner of the property in December 2020 or the following January. “It’s a beautiful gravel road and we can put a small ‘hammerhead’ turnaround for buses and cars and that splits existing Ames into two,” said Blair. “You turn right to go to the Native American caves or shelters and turn

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Griswold and Ward Make the Case for Old Lyme Selectmen

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As part of its ongoing coverage of races across the region, CT Examiner spoke with candidates for selectman endorsed by the local Republican and Democratic parties in Old Lyme. We begin with the Republican ticket. CT Examiner met with incumbent Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, a Republican, who is running for re-election with Matt Ward, who is unaffiliated and has been endorsed by the Republican Town Committee.  Griswold first held the office of First Selectman from 1997 to 2011 and successfully ran against Bonnie Reemsnyder as a petitioning candidate in 2019. Ward retired last year after 20 years as

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RPA Report Pitches ADUs as a Big Answer to Affordable Housing

STAMFORD — According to a new report released by the Regional Plan Association, Fairfield County homeowners could create 40,000 new apartments by 2040 simply by building Accessory Dwelling Units and converting large single family homes into duplexes or multiple living spaces. CT Examiner spoke with Marcel Negret, a senior planner at RPA, about what those numbers mean on a practical level for town leaders and homeowners. The estimates are based on a new law, Public Act 21-29, that requires towns in Connecticut to allow accessory dwelling units “as of right” — or opt out before Jan. 2023. Given that 96

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Bordelon Earns Spot on Democratic Ballot, Heede Dropped

GROTON — Portia Bordelon, a town councilor who petitioned for a spot on the Democratic primary ballot after she was not nominated for the slate by her party, was the top vote-getter in the primary Tuesday night. “The community spoke tonight, not the Democratic committee. One of the things I ran on is to be the voice of the community and the constituents at large, and they spoke tonight,” said Bordelon, by phone Tuesday night.  While Bordelon came in first, incumbent Town Councilor Conrad Heede, chair of the Democratic Town Committee, earned the lowest number of votes and lost his place

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Convenience Store Plan Draws Opposition at Old Lyme Zoning Hearing

OLD LYME — CPD Properties has applied again for a special exception to allow a convenience store at the gas station at 85 Halls Road, but an attorney for an abutter says the application is untenable because it cannot comply with the town’s zoning regulations.  CPD, also known as CPD Energy Corp. of New Paltz, New York, has proposed the addition of 227 square feet of space to the existing 1,760 sq. building on the .6-acre parcel. The garage bays that were previously used for auto repair would be converted to a retail space. The project would also replace the

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Dutch Designer Ingrid Bergman Awaits Green Light For Return to Essex

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ESSEX — 8 Main Street has stood empty for nearly two years. “I get a lot of questions about when we’re going to open. All is unknown, as we don’t have a clue when Biden is opening the doors again for travelers from out of Europe,” said Ingrid Bergman, a Dutch-born interior designer, who said she has planned since 2019 to open Eric Kuster Metropolitan Luxury by Ingrid Bergman Interiors at the Main Street location. Bergman, who is a resident of the U.S., holds a five-year E2 visa, known as an investor visa, that is set to expire in November

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Old Saybrook Debates Residential Redevelopment of Marine Industrial Lands

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OLD SAYBROOK — After extended discussion on Wednesday night, the town’s Planning Commission voted to table a decision to change the town’s zoning rules to allow residential development in marine industrial zones, including Ferry Point, citing inconsistencies with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.  The applicant was 91 Sheffield Street, LLC, represented by attorney Marjorie Shansky. And the specific area in question is a 9.93-acre site is a waterfront parcel on North Cove zoned marine industrial. There are four structures on the site — one has collapsed — totaling about 11,000 square feet, formerly occupied by an oceanographic research company. 

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Mystic Seaport offers “End of Summer” free admission to Connecticut children this weekend

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MYSTIC — Connecticut children will receive free admission at Mystic Seaport this weekend and Labor Day for the museum’s “End of Summer” celebration.  It’s the last free weekend at the museum, which has offered free admission to children and one accompanying adult through Connecticut’s Summer at the Museum since July 1. Admission will include “A Spectacle In Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ‘Round the World,” a 1,275-foot-long painting that depicts the voyage of a whale ship around the globe. Painted in 1848, the work is being shown in sections at the museum’s Collins Gallery in the Thompson

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ThayerMahan to Move Forward with Headquarters Project in Groton

GROTON — ThayerMahan told town council members on Tuesday that the company would move forward with redeveloping the Groton Heights School into the company’s headquarters.  The project had been slowed for more than a year by the COVID-19 pandemic. Richard Hine, co-founder and chief operating officer of ThayerMahan, told the Town Council Committee of the Whole that the company is rapidly outgrowing its 14,000-square foot space at 120 Leonard Drive in Groton.  “We’re a company that started in 2016 with two employees, my co-founder, Mike Connor and myself. Over the last five years, we’ve grown to 70 employees,” he said. “Our

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“Solace” to Premiere at Hygienic Art Park, Aug. 31 – Sept. 4

NEW LONDON — A phone call to a young woman from her father, absent for 18 years, starts off a series of events, including a murder, in the overlapping lives of characters who call a 10-block area of East St. Louis home.  “‘Solace’ is a play that is about what we think we need and how we evolve in order to understand better what it is we actually need in the world,” explained playwright and New London resident Michael Bradford, whose Emergent Theatre Project will premiere the play at Hygienic Art Park from Aug. 31 through Sept. 4.  “People that

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Portia Bordelon Speaks Out on Respler, the Democratic Slate, Her Role as Councilor

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GROTON — In 2019, Portia Bordelon was the second highest incumbent vote-getter in the race for town council, but  on July 21 she failed to win an endorsement for re-election from the local Democratic Town Committee. Bordelon has instead petitioned her way on to September’s primary ballot.  It’s unusual for a town committee not to endorse its incumbent candidates, the Democratic chair Conrad Heede agrees, but why exactly Bordelon was left off the Democratic slate remains a matter of disagreement. “I ran on transparency, accountability and openness, being willing to speak my mind and advocate for the constituents in the

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Local Cheese and Beer Featured at Farm Dinner

COLCHESTER — A 5-course farm-to-table dinner featuring beer from Hop Culture Farms, cheese from Cato Corner Farm, with dishes using each cheese by Chef Tim Marotto from Vintage in Colchester will be held on August 18.  For each course, diners will sample each cheese on its own — paired with a beer — and then taste a dish that includes that cheese, said Heather Wilson, co-owner of Hop Culture Farms and Brewery, at 144 Cato Corner Road in Colchester. “Cato Corner and I have done collaborations in the past where we’ve paired beer and cheese, but because Tim is such a

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New Rail Plan Aims to Eliminate Three At-grade Crossings in Stonington

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STONINGTON — Three of the town’s five at-grade railroad crossings are slated for closures and possible workarounds in the recently announced Northeast Corridor Commission Connect 2035 plan.  The plan is expected to receive funding in the recently announced federal infrastructure bill. The plan appendix of projects targets crossings at Elihu Island Road, Wamphassuc Road and Latimer Point through the New England Grade Crossing Elimination Program.  Asked what the reasons are for the eliminating the crossings, Jason Abrams, public relations manager for Amtrak, said that grade crossings are an inherent safety risk.   “Each year, approximately 2,000 people are killed or injured

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Meeting Canceled for Storage and Business Units on Shore Road in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — CN&S Realty of Old Lyme has withdrawn its application for the construction of three storage and service contractor buildings at 250 Shore Road (Rte. 156), canceling tonight’s special meeting of the Zoning Commission at 6 p.m.  A spokesperson from town hall said the applicant withdrew because there was not enough time to comply with a number of conditions set forth by the town engineer and the state Department of Transportation within the 65-day application period.  A letter from the Department of Transportation dated August 5 denied the applicant’s request to work within the state right-of-way, citing seven

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Thursday Zoning Hearing to Consider Business and Storage Units on Shore Road in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — A public hearing by the town’s zoning commission to review three 10,500-square-foot buildings at 250 Shore Road intended for contractor services and storage will continue at Town Hall on August 12 at 6 p.m.  More than 100 neighborhood and area residents have signed a petition in opposition to the project. Many spoke against the proposal at the May 10, June 14, and July 12 Zoning Commission meetings. As currently designed, each building would measure 70’ wide, 150’ long and 35’ high and contain 12 875-square-foot spaces that could be separately rented as storage units or for business services,

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Alexis Harrison Talks Affordability, Her Run for Fairfield Planning and Zoning

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Alexis Harrison, a Fairfield native and well-known advocate on zoning and affordable housing, announced she is running for a two-year term on the Plan and Zoning Commission in Fairfield.  Harrison has served as co-president of Fairfielders Protecting Land and Neighborhoods, a local advocacy organization dedicated to “good government and environmental stewardship.” As a member of CT169strong, spoke out against housing bill HB6611 and an earlier version of HB6107, which would have diminished local control of zoning. What should the state’s role be in providing affordability for Connecticut residents? First of all, Connecticut ranks 49th in housing development, because of the

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Zoning Rejects Beer and Wine Service at Cocotte in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — Cocotte French Cuisine and Desserts received a ‘hard no’ from the town’s Zoning Commission Monday night regarding a possible permit to serve beer and wine — a decision that threatens the viability of the new restaurant, the owners said.  Jeffrey and Isabelle DeFrancesco, who opened Cocotte on June 25 in the historic James Pharmacy at 2 Pennywise Lane, said a beer and wine license would allow their restaurant to stay in business. “We’re trying to sustain a business and we’ve just launched. And I can tell you right now, if we don’t sell beer or wine in the

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Centennial Day Will Include Special Fundraiser for Skylights at Lyme Art Association

OLD LYME — The Lyme Art Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary on Saturday, August 7, with an entire day of activities, including the Centennial Frolic, an evening 1920’s-themed fundraiser for the Second Century Skylight Project.  The skylights are 100 years old — the same age as the building — and in dire need of replacement, said Laurie Pavlos, executive director of Lyme Art Association.  “The skylights are leaking. And, they’re single-pane skylights and have no insulation value. It’s almost like having a giant hole in our roof that all our heat goes up through. And in the summertime, it’s

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Democrats Endorse Shoemaker, Lampos to Lead Old Lyme Ticket

OLD LYME — In a surprising move, the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee endorsed Martha Shoemaker, who was elected to the Regional Board of Education in Nov. 2017, to challenge incumbent Republican Timothy Griswold in this November’s election. Incumbent Selectman Mary Jo Nosal, who some expected to run for first selectman, is instead a candidate for the Zoning Commission with a term beginning in 2022.  On the slate with Shoemaker is Jim Lampos as candidate for selectman. Since 2019, Lampos has served on the Community Connectivity Grant Committee, which has overseen the installation of sidewalks along Hartford Ave. and Shore

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Sound View Debates Parking, Shouldering the Costs of the Summer Season

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OLD LYME — A meeting of the Sound View Commission on Monday night debated the cost of parking in the beach community and whether it is fair to expect visitors to balance the cost of additional town services during the summer months. “The townspeople pay for police already and they pay for public works already,” said Commission Chair Frank Pappalardo, “Sound View is an additional drain on public works and police and services that the town operates. What we’re looking to do is to help defray the costs to the taxpayers of the Town of Old Lyme for what it

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