After 26 Years, Owners of Christiansen Hardware to Retire, Business Carries On

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OLD LYME — After more than a quarter of a century, there will be new owners behind the counter at Christiansen Hardware and the store will have a new name as well. “The most important thing to us is handing this business over to somebody we think is going to take good care of it, so it will be in good hands. It wasn’t about whether or not we were going to sell it, it was who are we going to sell it to,” said Bill Christiansen, who has owned and operated the store with his wife, Nancy Christiansen, for

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Fosnot Gallery Highlights 16 Critics’ Picks

NEW LONDON — For contemporary art lovers, discovery of emerging artists is a great and serious pleasure. That’s why it’s worth a look at a show of 16 artists deemed important to collect by a number of art critics and curators: The second annual “Art for Your Collection” at the Catherine Fosnot Gallery and Art Center at 165 State Street running through Jan. 28.  “We ask [critics], ‘Who’s on your radar? Who do you think are important artists right now and that you’d say are important artists to keep your eye on — and who you think might be good

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Phone App Debuts Free Door-to-Door Transit For Stops in New London

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NEW LONDON — The new NL SmartRide app worked well on Friday afternoon when CT Examiner booked a ride from Bank St. to the Shain Library at Connecticut College. It took about 5 minutes for the minibus to show up after the ride was confirmed and about 10 minutes to reach the destination.   As an experiment, Mayor Mike Passero booked a ride from City Hall to the Shain Library at the same time as CT Examiner. The idea was to see who would get to the library first and whether the app’s algorithm would instruct a driver to pick up parties

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Quick Deadlines for Holiday Baked Goods, Order Soon

Bakeries across Connecticut are taking orders for holiday pastries and cakes to celebrate the season – but the deadlines are fast approaching. CT Examiner talked with a number of bakeries about what’s popular this year and when customers need to preorder for pickup before Christmas.  Dagmar’s Desserts www.dagmarsdesserts.com (860) 661-4661 / 75 Main St., Old Saybrook Accepting orders through Friday, Dec. 17 Stollen is the specialty of Dagmar’s, which is available at the bakery and online. She offers stollen in quark, marzipan, cranberry walnut varieties available in medium and large or family sizes.  “Stollen is wildly popular. Apple strudel is

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After Last Week’s Stalemate, Groton Council Votes Melendez as Mayor

GROTON — Groton Town Council members unanimously elected Juan Melendez Jr. as mayor in a single round of voting on Tuesday night.  After a stalemate at their first meeting as a new council last week, two councilors whose names were previously in play for mayor— Aundré Bumgardner and John “Scott” Westervelt — took their names out of the running, narrowing the field to Portia Bordelon, Rachael Franco and Melendez.  Portia Bordelon, who was the highest vote-getter in November’s election — after petitioning to have her name included on the Democratic primary ballot when her party did not include her name on

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Carney Wins National Award for Bipartisan Leadership

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Devin Carney, R-Old Lyme, was one of two state representatives to receive a national 2021 Rising Star award on Friday from the Millennial Action Project, which works to help young leaders bridge the partisan divide.  “We’re not going to agree on everything — let’s just say that upfront — we’re not going to agree on everything. And that’s okay. But we all know these issues are out there, and we just have to work together to try to achieve [solutions to] the problems facing us,” said Carney said in his acceptance speech.  Arkansas State Rep. Jamie Scott,

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VFW Events Honor Members’ Service and Local Support of Veterans

OLD LYME — Lyme-Old Lyme Post 1467 recently celebrated with two annual events that included recognition of local fundraising efforts for veterans and awards for members’ community service.  At the Dinner Dance, held on October 23 at the Christ the King Church, Post Commander David Griswold served as master of ceremonies. After introducing the candidates in the local election, Griswold thanked the town for its generosity and said the post had provided more than $20,000 during the pandemic in help for local veterans. Over the past eight years, the post has distributed more than $75,000 to help veterans in need

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Small Works are Grand Tradition at Annual Postcard Show

CHESTER — We send them from faraway places, buy them at museums, tape them to our refrigerators— postcards are portals to adventure and memory, and an accessible way to own art. Artist Sol LeWitt used to send postcards to Sosse and Jack Baker, former owners of the Chester Gallery where LeWitt showed his work.  “He would send them postcards from his travels and they framed some of them that he made himself. That’s what gave Jack and Sosse the idea to host a show of art the size of postcards,” said Nancy Pinney, who has owned the Chester Gallery since 2018. 

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Committee Tries New Approach to Zoning Regs on Halls Road

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee has opted for a new approach to redevelopment in the town’s commercial district that would preserve current commercial zoning and add the option of residential units after the committee’s initial application was withdrawn in the face of significant criticism in early November. The revised approach would use an overlay zone in place of creating a village district. “What an overlay zone does is it keeps that current C30 zone in place. What’s there now is allowed and can stay there — it’s not grandfathered in — no rights are removed. It gets

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Groton Town Council Splits on Choice of Mayor, Delays Decision Until Dec. 14

GROTON — The newly sworn in Groton Town Council was unable to reach a majority decision after eight rounds of voting for the position of mayor on Tuesday night, splitting instead into three factions that would not budge or compromise. Without a reaching a decision, the council could not proceed with other business on the agenda. To be elected, the position requires an affirmative vote from five of the nine council members. The role is tasked with running the meetings, serving as the ceremonial head of the town and other duties.  As the process began, council members nominated Portia Bordelon,

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Town Takes Responsibility, but no Action, on Flooding Fix For Old Lyme’s Private Beaches

OLD LYME — For years the Swan Brook outlet has clogged, causing flooding in the surrounding private communities of Miami Beach and Hawk’s Nest. The town installed the two 36-inch drainage pipes and the outlet in the 1940s and has maintained the drainage system over the years. According to Town Attorney Jack Collins, that means the town’s taxpayers are responsible for fixing the problem, which has grown significantly worse with the deterioration of an 80-year-old wooden crib holding the pipes. At a meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Monday afternoon, First Selectmen Tim Griswold sketched out possible solutions. “There

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Lilywork Artisan Tile Studio Opens in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — “In King Solomon’s temple, lilywork was the carved lilies on the top of columns … it was decorative ornamentation way, way up high in the temple … and they say that only God could see it,” explained Esther Halferty, co-owner of Lilywork Artisan Tile, who was standing in the studio’s partially-finished space at 56 Lyme St. on Tuesday morning.  “[The name] has a nice flow to it and also we have a lot of behind the scenes work that nobody sees the details [of] and the hours of labor — but it’s what we do and we’re

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Nickerson Ready to Step Down, Reflects on East Lyme’s Past and Future

EAST LYME — Dressed in a casual zip-neck pullover and jeans, First Selectman Mark Nickerson sat at the conference table in the town hall office he’s occupied for seven years, talking with CT Examiner about what’s next after he steps down in December.  “When I got here I had the biggest shoes to fill the history of our town because I was coming in with Paul Formica as my predecessor — what an amazing leader. What amazing work he and especially others have done prior. It’s great to list the things we accomplished, but we already had a vibrant town.” Nickerson,

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Halls Road Committee Meets to Debate Next Steps, Erred on Zoning Role

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OLD LYME —  The Halls Road Improvements Committee regrouped on Thursday night for the first time since its draft zoning changes to the town’s central business district were withdrawn hours before a Nov. 8 hearing. The proposed zoning changes have been the subject of contentious debate across social media and local newspapers, with advocates for and against the initial proposal alleging variously incompetence, conflict of interest, a lack of transparency, and partisan politics. From the start, Edie Twining, chair of the committee, tried to focus members on steps to advance the project, rather than on rehashing that contentious debate or

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Public Asks for Details on Community Center, 2nd Forum Tonight in New London

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NEW LONDON — Residents raised a variety of questions and concerns about conceptual plans for a 62,000-square-foot, $30 million community recreation center slated for the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, at the first of two public forums Tuesday night.  The forum was held at the Multi-Magnet Secondary School lecture hall at New London High School. A second public forum will be held tonight at 6 p.m. in the same location.  The conversation about building a rec center is decades long, but in February the City Council moved forward on a plan that includes $22 million in construction costs and $8 million in

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‘It’s Our Turn’ for a Senior Center Expansion, says Lyme-Old Lyme Chair

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OLD LYME — Point One Architects presented two conceptual design options for enlarging the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee on Wednesday that ranged in cost from $3.4 to $3.8 million. Architects Rick Staub and Greg Nucci, who are partners at Point One, said both design options include four key spaces: a large multipurpose room, which the building already has, a medium-sized multipurpose room, a small multipurpose room and an enclosed sunroom. Many of the rooms would be equipped with accordion doors for flexibility in the use of the spaces. “So you basically have four large rooms that can work in

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Family, Fairy Tales and Human Fears at Wadsworth Atheneum Talk

Family conflict and human fears — both are central themes found in the work of artist Christina Forrer and writer Sabrina Orah Mark.  Forrer uses imagery from folk tales and mythology in her vividly-colored tapestries and paintings, bringing to mind characters in fairy tales amidst modern environmental disasters.  Orah Mark is a poet and fiction writer who writes essays on fairy tales that focus on motherhood.  On November 11 at 6 p.m., the two — who have never met in person — will discuss their work in a virtual conversation coordinated by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, where “Christina Forrer

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Recount: Nosal Wins Against Danenhower in a Very Close Race

OLD LYME — In a tense recount that lasted more than three hours Monday night, it was confirmed that Democrat Mary Jo Nosal won a seat on the Zoning Commission in the Nov. 2 election, beating Republican Sloan Danenhower by six votes.  The final count was 1,600 votes for Nosal and 1,594 votes for Danenhower.  Meghan Ruppenicker, moderator, oversaw the recount, which included 378 absentee ballots and 28 Election Day Registrations, known as EDRs.  Gene Clifford, who served as the tabulator tender, fed each individual ballot into a voting machine that had been hauled to the mezzanine room in town

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Another No for Gas Station Convenience Store on Halls Road

OLD LYME — A third attempt to obtain a special exception to add a convenience store to a gas station at 85 Halls Road was unanimously denied by the Zoning Commission Monday night. CPD Properties, also known as CPD Energy Corp, of New Paltz, New York, proposed converting the garage bays of the existing building to retail space, which would have added an additional use to the nonconforming .6-acre parcel.  Jane Marsh, secretary of the commission, made a motion to deny the application, citing four main issues, including a lack of new information relative to the previous two submissions for

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Griswold Withdraws Halls Road Zoning Application, Cites Irregular Process

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OLD LYME — First Selectman Tim Griswold withdrew the zoning application for the Halls Road Village District on Monday, citing a lack of adherence to town procedures and processes. In a letter to Paul Orzel, chair of the Zoning Commission, Griswold said that the full Halls Road Improvements Committee had not reviewed nor voted to approve the application for the village district, which included a text amendment to the town’s zoning regulations.  Griswold also said that since the submittal, there “have been some subsequent changes to the application that have required or will require amendments.” Griswold submitted application in Sept.

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Zoning Advocacy Stalls Bronin Nomination to Federal Preservation Council

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The vote on Sara Bronin’s nomination for chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation was delayed this week by a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources who said he was concerned about Bronin’s work as the founder of Desegregate Connecticut, a nonprofit zoning reform group.  “While Ms. Bronin has experience in the historic preservation field, I’m concerned about the types of reforms to historic preservation programs that she may pursue,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Ranking Member of the committee, at its Nov. 2 meeting. “If her record as a leading advocate for progressive

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Final Season for East Lyme Driving Range as Exit 74 Plans Proceed

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EAST LYME — The owners of the East Lyme Driving Range are scrambling to respond to a notice to vacate by Nov. 30 due to the state’s land acquisition for improvements to the I-95 interchange at Exit 74 that will take a portion of the property.  Bill and Lavinia Simons, who have leased the driving range, located at 294-2 Flanders Road, for six years said they had received the notice on Oct. 28 from the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “The taking is of 6 to 10 acres of the 30-ish acre site,” said Bill Simons, on Wednesday morning as the

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As Halls Road Zoning Advocates Emphasize Flexibility, Legal Experts Say Otherwise

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OLD LYME — Advocates of a plan to rewrite the town’s zoning rules for Halls Road have dismissed concerns that the proposed architectural and design guidelines are legally-binding or more than advisory — but that’s not what the proposed text says, according to several prominent land use attorneys who agreed to speak on and off the record. “I think it’s absolutely plain as day that planning and zoning cannot approve a site plan or a special permit unless the design review committee approves the plans,” said one land use attorney, who asked to remain anonymous, after reviewing the proposed regulations. “No

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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 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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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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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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