Lengthy Process, Little to Show for Connecticut Fisheries

Nearly seven months after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, eligible fisheries and related businesses can apply for $1.8 million in economic aid through the CARES Assistance to Fishery Participants (CAAFP) program. On March 27, the CARES Act authorized U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to allocate $300 million in financial assistance to states, tribes and territories with coastal and marine fisheries that were negatively impacted by COVID-19. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) then made awards to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Gulf

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Somers and Statchen Stake Positions in Rematch of State Senate Race

Republican State Sen. Heather Somers is running for a third term in the 18th district against Democrat Robert Statchen. This is the second time the two have competed for the chance to represent the towns of Griswold, Groton, North Stonington, Plainfield, Preston, Sterling, Stonington and Voluntown in the State Senate. In 2018, Somers won with 54.7 percent to Statchen’s 45.3 percent of the vote. Somers said that she has the most bipartisan or independent voting record in the Senate — a consistent theme, she says, of her campaign and time in Hartford. “For years now, I’m somebody who is challenging

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Halls Road Committee Selects Engineering Firm to Plan Mixed-use, Wastewater Solutions

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee chose BSC Group by unanimous vote at a meeting on Thursday to create a master plan for Halls Road that will allow the addition of mixed-use zoning to the towns main shopping district.  The committee previously solicited proposals through an informal bid process from Newman Architects of New Haven, Robert Orr and Associates LLC, of New Haven, and BSC Group of Glastonbury.  The town has allocated $48,000 for the project, which will require approval from the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance to move forward.  Committee members felt that BSC

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A Closer Look the State House Race Between Dave Rubino and Devin Carney

Newcomer Democrat Dave Rubino, a human rights lawyer with a practice in Old Lyme, is challenging incumbent Republican State Rep. Devin Carney, an Old Lyme resident and native of Old Saybrook. Carney has held the house seat in the 23rd district, representing Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook, since 2015. Carney, who sits on the Transportation, Finance, and Planning and Development committees, said that “the biggest issue is how we are going to move forward from COVID.” He described the challenge as “multi-faceted,” involving public health and the economy. “Obviously we’ve had a lot of issues because of businesses

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Fogliano Calls for Town Commission on Affordable Housing in Old Lyme to Address State Requirements

OLD LYME — The Affordable Housing Committee made two initial recommendations to the Board of Selectmen Monday night that include urging the town to move forward with building two affordable units on McCulloch Farm before the option expires in 2024 and forming an Affordable House Commission to address long term goals and compliance issues, especially those related to the 8-30j law.  “We were launched in February this year with an exploratory mission to wrap our hands around affordable housing in Old Lyme,” said Mike Fogliano, chair of the committee, who presented the recommendations to the board by phone. Fogliano said

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Eminent Domain Proceedings Halted as Town and Beach Communities Agree to Payment

OLD LYME — The town has halted eminent domain proceedings to acquire two easements necessary for the planned sewer project in Old Lyme after the property owner agreed to a one-time payment in exchange for allowing a sewage pipe to be constructed across the properties. In a reversal that includes a $30,000 payment to Frank Maratta, owner of 85 Swan Ave. and 86 Hartford Ave, in consideration of the easement, the Board of Selectmen unanimously approved a resolution Monday night that will allow the town to proceed with an important piece of the planned sewer project that will serve the

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Sun Communities Acquires 18 Marinas Across Connecticut and Rhode Island in $2.1 Billion Deal with Safe Harbor

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Sun Communities, a real estate investment trust based in Southfield, Michigan, announced the purchase of 104 marinas in 22 states — including 18 marinas across Connecticut and Rhode Island — in a deal valued at $2.1 billion in cash and stock. The marinas, currently owned and operated by Dallas-based Safe Harbor Marinas, include locations in Branford, Deep River, Essex, Mystic, Old Saybrook, Stamford, Stratford and Westbrook, and locations in Rhode Island including Barrington, Newport, Jamestown and Wickford, Warwick, and Portsmouth. With 40,000 members in its network, Safe Harbor is the largest marina enterprise in the United States.  In a conference

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Zoning Commission Debates Future Character of Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — The town’s Zoning Commission will send recommendations for revisions to Old Lyme’s current Plan of Conservation and Development including a variety of ideas once considered out-of-step with the semi-rural character of the town. These recommendations come as the Old Lyme Planning Commission works to complete its once-every-decade update to the town plan by the end of 2020. The Office of Policy and Management requires that every municipality in Connecticut to update its plan, or POCD,  every 10 years or risk losing eligibility for state funding. “I think we should look at district overlays, we should look at

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Cato Corner Adds Mozzarella to its Range of Well-Regarded Aged Cheese

COLCHESTER — Clad in white rubber boots and a white hairnet and mask, cheesemaker Mark Gillman picked up a scrub brush from a bucket of sudsy water and scoured the front of his white apron.  “Cheesemaking has been called a glorified cleaning job. You spend a lot of time cleaning equipment and also cleaning yourself,” he laughed as he scanned rectangles of milk curds stacked on a nearby stainless steel table, ready to be transformed into mozzarella via a process of heating and stretching called “pasta filata,” sometimes called “spun paste” or stretched curd.  Gillman, who runs Cato Corner Farm

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Last Minute Addition of $189 Million Norwalk Project Roils Routine Approval of School Construction Funds

At 12:45 a.m., after a failed amendment to remove the late addition of an unvetted $189 million project to replace Norwalk High School, the Connecticut House of Representatives approved a $445 million bill that will provide school construction grants to 11 school districts across the state. The Norwalk school district did not submit a completed grant application to the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) prior to June 30, 2019 as required. The proposed bill provided an extension until December 31, 2020. The bill also included a reimbursement rate of 80 percent for the project if the Norwalk Board of Education

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Conn College Launches Website of Urban Renewal History in New London

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NEW LONDON — Connecticut College launched a visually rich new web site Tuesday that pulls together extensive research about urban renewal in New London from 1941 to 1975. “We applied [for a grant] with this project to study the history of urban renewal in New London because it hasn’t really been done before. This is really the first history written about it and it takes the form of this public history digital publication,” said Anna Vallye, assistant professor of Art History and Architectural Studies, who led the project that included three faculty, four staff and 43 students from 2019 to

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Resident Poet at the Merrill House will Talk About House Poems

“One of the neat things about this apartment at 107 Water Street as you go into different rooms — and I find myself writing in a different room each day — you get different ideas of how a poet would begin writing a poem,” said Walt Hunter, the poet in residence at James Merrill House for the month of September.  The rooms in the house represent visions of how a poet might find inspiration, said Hunter. “In his study, there are bookshelves full of his peers and older poets or precursors, or influences and you get the sense that poems have

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Old Lyme to Acquire Two Easements by Eminent Domain

OLD LYME — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Wednesday to commence with the acquisition of easements by eminent domain for properties located at 85 Swan Ave. and 86 Hartford Ave.  The easements are needed for the construction of a permanent sewage conveyance pipe that will be part of the future combined sewage system for three chartered beach communities — Miami Beach, Old Colony Beach and Old Lyme Shores — and the town’s Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Area B.  The Pavilion Restaurant is located on a .46-acre parcel at 85 Swan Ave., which is abutted to the west by

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State Invites Comment on Draft Four-Year $3.9 Billion Transportation Program

The Connecticut Department of Transportation continues work on plans to remove the two traffic signals on Route 9 in Middletown, one of 223 projects included in the draft 2021 State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP. The draft is the topic of two virtual public information meetings to be held on Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. The public is also invited to review and comment on the draft program of projects, as well as Public Involvement Procedures, until Oct. 9.  Middletown project The Middletown project began under the Malloy administration as a way to improve safety conditions and

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Prevailing Wage Rule May Limit Sidewalk Extension to Hartford Avenue

OLD LYME — There is a chance that prevailing wage requirements could significantly raise the cost of the Sound View sidewalks project if the state interprets the application as a renovation rather than as new construction. Public works projects must comply with state prevailing wage laws if they are classified as new construction and cost at least $1 million or as renovations and cost at least $100,000 “This is new construction, in my opinion. I think this is a situation where the regulations haven’t caught up with the evolution of projects. I think we’re not necessarily in a gray area,

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Mixed-Income Housing Development Approved for Site of Former Campbell Grain Building in Pawcatuck

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STONINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a five-story, 82-unit mixed-income housing project for the long-blighted site of the former Campbell Grain building in Pawcatuck, during a virtual meeting Tuesday night.  Winn Development, a division of Winn Companies of Boston, proposed the project under the state 8-30g statute for the 1.89-acre site at 15 Coggswell Street and 27 West Broad Street in Pawcatuck. In 2019, 5.93 percent of the housing stock in Stonington was classified as affordable under state statute. The proposed project will lease 30 percent of the units at market rates and 70 percent will be restricted

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Request to Demolish Victorian-era Cottage in Haddam Denied Unanimously

HADDAM — The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday to deny a request for a special permit to demolish a historic residential structure at 140 Dublin Hill Road known as the Leverett Spencer House.  The commission reviewed the application under the Section 15A Historic Preservation by Special Permit, which requires a special permit/site plan review for the demolition of any building listed in the survey, “Haddam Survey of Historical and Architectural Resources,” conducted by the Greater Middletown Trust. The building, which is listed on the survey, is an example of workers’ housing in Higganum during the second half of

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Diebolt Details Planned Housing Development in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — “I’ve lived in town for 30 years and it seems like a great opportunity for what the town needs. We’re going to ‘do well by doing good.’ What we’re trying to do is make something that we’re proud to build and own and to provide as another housing alternative,” said Mark Diebolt, owner of the 20.6-acre parcel at 49 Hatchetts Hill Road where he and two partners plan to build a large apartment complex that will include 30 percent affordable units qualifying under the 8-30g statute.  “It’s going to look like a New England village,” said Diebolt

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224-Unit Housing Development Considered for Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME —  At its Sept. 21 meeting, local resident Mark Diebolt will discuss plans with the Affordable Housing Committee to build a 224-unit, 11-building residential complex at 49 Hatchetts Hill Road, a 20.6-acre site just south of I-95 near exit 71. The complex is expected to include 30 percent affordable housing under state statute 8-30g. Vice-chair Karen Winters told committee members at an Aug. 31 meeting that Diebolt was interested in speaking with the committee, and with other town commissions, about the project.  Committee member Harold Thompson said that he had already spoken with Diebolt about the need for

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Chester Gallery Opens First Friday of Local Artist Work

On Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m., Chester Gallery opens “Chester Artists: Past, Present and Up and Coming,” a revolving show of local artists over the next two months. “From the postcard show I realized there’s a lot of talent in Chester, people I never even knew of. It opened my eyes to more of the Chester artists,” explained Nancy Pinney, owner of the Chester Gallery, where postcard-sized work by local artists was featured in December. “Everyone has a tie to Chester, one way or the other… they lived here, they have a studio here,” Pinney said.  In the main

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Owners of Banner Estates Resubmit Application to Zoning

EAST HADDAM — The owners of the Banner Country Club Estates have resubmitted an application for a zoning amendment change that will allow them to convert a 28,000-square-foot banquet hall into residential units.  Co-owner Anthony Longhitano withdrew a similar application for a change to the Planned Recreational Development/Resort Zone, a floating zone, via email on Feb. 25, the same day the Planning and Zoning Commission had planned to vote on a motion to deny the application. The commission had referred the matter to counsel to craft the language of the motion to deny as a safeguard from litigation, but because of

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Tracy Espy Talks Joining Mitchell College as New President

NEW LONDON — “I see Mitchell really going back to its roots,” said Dr. Tracy Espy, since July 1 the new president of Mitchell College. Espy is the first African American woman to lead the college. Mitchell College has a history of providing exceptional service to students, she explained, including those of different learning abilities. “They’ve had this learning model for years, including when they were a community college. They started as a junior college in 1938 and had their first graduates in 1941.”  In its early publications, the college defined its purpose as providing a well-rounded education for the creation

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Added Costs Raise Questions Regarding Hartford Avenue Sidewalk Plans in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — How far a $400,000 Community Connectivity grant will cover sidewalk construction on the upper portion of Hartford Avenue and a section of Route 156 will remain a question until the town sees the project bids, mostly likely in the late fall with construction planned for March 2021.  If the entire project is to be completed, another question will be how the shortfall, if there is one, will be paid for, especially during the uncertain financial climate of the COVID-19 pandemic.  “Until you get it bid, you don’t really know,” First Selectman Timothy Griswold said by phone on

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Checking in with Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb was in New York City in mid-March to watch a rough cut of the screen adaption of his second novel,  “I Know This Much Is True,” which is streaming now on HBO as a six-episode tv drama.  “I had chosen Mark Ruffalo as the one and only person I wanted to take on the role of the twins and he was so genuine,” Lamb said, in a phone interview on Aug. 20. “My agent sent the book to him. Mark was in Europe filming. He was halfway through and said he already knew that he wanted to do

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Scientists Take the Long View on Saving Eastern Hemlock Stands from Woolly Adelgid.

The hemlock woolly adelgid, an insect that has decimated the eastern hemlock population over the last 40 years, is not a parasite — it’s an herbivore.  “Herbivores eat plants,” said Dr. Evan Pressier, an associate professor of biological sciences at University of Rhode Island. “It can be a bit of a dicey distinction, but most people would talk of the hemlock woolly adelgid as an herbivore because it does eat plant tissue. It’s not a parasite in a traditional sense.”  Pressier has spent 15 years researching the hemlock woolly adelgid, known as HWA, and experimented with genetically-resistant hemlocks as well

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Sewer and Water Projects Raise Questions, Upset Neighbors Near Old Lyme Shores

OLD LYME — Questions and complaints have arisen about the residential location of a staging area for Connecticut Water Company that is also the planned site of an odor control system for an upcoming sewer project that will serve three chartered beach associations and the Sound View beach community.  The .91-acre parcel at 308 Gorton Avenue, owned by Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, is deed-restricted as a “play field or for a clubhouse for use only of members of the Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, and for no other purposes.” The deed was recorded on Sept. 22, 1952.  “When we bought

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Connecticut Port Authority Withdraws Support for $1.8 Million Harbor Harvest Project

NEW LONDON — The Connecticut Port Authority has withdrawn its request as a sponsor for a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MARAD) grant for a Marine Highway project that would have supported the development of a Harbor Harvest, a waterborne transportation service for farmers and manufacturers in Connecticut and Long Island. “At the time we applied, only public entities were eligible and if a private entity was engaging in these activities, they had to go through a project sponsor like a port authority and so we served in that role,” said Acting Chair David Kooris at the

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John Henshaw Appointed Connecticut Port Authority Executive Director, Brings Years of Experience from Portland, ME

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NEW LONDON — The Connecticut Port Authority has approved the appointment of John Henshaw III as its new executive director, effective Sept. 8.  Henshaw, who served from 2007 to 2017 as executive director of the Maine Port Authority and the Director of Ports and Marine Transportation for the Maine Department of Transportation, received unanimous approval from the port authority board on Tuesday in a meeting conducted by telephone.  From 2017 to 2019 Henshaw was chief operating officer for Maine Center Ventures at the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center, a program that includes a consortium of programs at the

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Hope Partnership Housing in Essex to Finish by End of February

ESSEX — On Wednesday afternoon, the sheetrock was up in several of the apartments under construction on the second and third floors of the long, brick building at 90 Main Street known as Spencer’s Corner.  The $5.1 million project, called The Lofts at Spencer’s Corner, invests $4.5 million in construction costs to redevelop one of the central commercial properties in the village of Centerbrook.  “This is exciting, I hadn’t seen these spaces yet,” said Loretta McCluskey, operations manager for Hope Partnership, Inc., as she walked into one of the units under construction.  McCluskey led the way through a sawdust-scented hallway

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$6.9 Million Federal Grant Announced for Low-Income Housing in Connecticut for People with Disabilities

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Department of Housing announced Tuesday that it has received a large federal grant to support rental housing for people with disabilities who have extremely low incomes. The $6.9 million grant will provide an additional 113 new units of housing. According to a press release, the funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “will support up to five years of rental assistance for approximately 113 units of housing in buildings participating in project rental assistance through HUD’s Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program.” Currently 70 households of people with disabilities receive rental assistance

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