Old Lyme Proposes Smaller Budget, Small Hike to Mill Rate

OLD LYME — At Monday’s public hearing for the 2021-22 budget, the first selectman’s proposed budget included a decrease in funding requests that was offset by a decrease in revenues and other factors, resulting in a proposed mill rate increase from 23.20 to 23.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the coming fiscal year.  David Kelsey, chair of the Board of Finance, presented the preliminary budget, which will go to a public vote on May 17.  In his presentation, Kelsey gave the following examples of how the increased mill rate could affect homeowners’ property taxes: House Appraised Value Assessed

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Centerbrook Architects’ Jeff Riley Walks Through a Plan for East Haddam’s Redevelopment

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Jeff Riley, a principal of Centerbrook Architects, talked with CT Examiner about Swing Bridge Landing, a proposed mixed-use development adjacent to the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. The $51 million, 94,000-square-foot project would include a village green surrounded by retail shops, restaurants, apartments, a health club, offices, on-site parking, and possibly a boutique hotel. Below are a selection of Riley’s comments on several images of the proposed project.  “The village green is meant to be just exactly that — a green that is available to the people in town. All sorts of things can happen there from seasonal celebrations

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Painter Richard McDonough in New London

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NEW LONDON — Grids, patterns and the color pink are a few of the themes that artist Richard McDonough explores in his solo show, “Two Turloughs,” at the Catherine Fosnot Gallery.  McDonough, who is 25 and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., is a painter who likes to construct objects, whether as sculpture or as surfaces to paint on — and to him, they are on a continuum.   Near the window of the first gallery is his tall, skinny, house-like sculpture, “Choir House and Choir Singers,” with a prominent wooden grid visible on the back surface. Around a corner, “Boys Toys,” a

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Old Lyme Officials Debate New Ideas for Saving Trees Along Ferry Road

OLD LYME — With maps and a tape measure in hand, Tree Commission members walked a section of the south side of Ferry Road Tuesday afternoon to inspect the right-of-way where a new sidewalk could be installed and to count the number of trees that would need to be removed.  One tree that was in poor condition because it had been trimmed unevenly to avoid the power lines would be taken down, said Joanne Camillo, chair of the commission.  “It’s really half a tree,” she said. In addition, two weeping cherry trees would likely be removed to construct a sidewalk

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Without Detailed Designs,’Smoke on the Water,’ Hits Turbulence in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — Smoke on the Water, a 300-seat outdoor restaurant slated for the former Dock and Dine property on College Ave., hit an obstacle Monday night when the Architectural Review Board agreed that the project application was incomplete and asked for a landscape plan that complied with regulations, elevations of the food trailers, and a site plan showing the locations of tables, tents and other equipment.  The board’s questions began during a zoom presentation about the restaurant — which will use towable trailers for food prep, storage, and bar service — by Ed Cassella, an attorney of Old Saybrook

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Sculptor Robert Rohm in Providence

PROVIDENCE — Rebar was a delicate drawing tool in the hands of sculptor Robert Rohm, whose show “Down to Earth: Robert Rohm Sculpture, 1963-2013” is running through April 25 at the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence.  At the beginning of the show are Rohm’s large pieces based on the figure — oversized hands, a shoulder, a series of arms, a torso, a leg — all forms in mid-gesture, bending, moving, cradling, reaching.  Rohm gave each piece “skin” by covering the flexed and shaped rebar with steel mesh and then layering encaustic, a pigmented hot wax, over areas of the mesh.

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Gas Station Expansion Meets Opposition in East Hampton Hearing

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EAST HAMPTON — The owner of the Citgo gas station and Food Bag convenience store at 1 Colchester Ave. has applied for change of zoning for two adjacent residential properties, creating a larger footprint for the business to expand. If approved, 157 Main Street and 5 Colchester Ave would be re-zoned from residential to commercial property. The owner, Atlantis Marketing Group of Mount Vernon, N.Y., has requested that after the change in zoning, the three parcels be merged into one.  A petition supporting “remodel and improvements” of the store — circulated by the Atlantis Marketing Group, known as AMG — 

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Scaled-back Zoning Legislation Advances in Connecticut General Assembly

HARTFORD — The state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee approved a scaled-down version of zoning legislation proposed by Desegregate CT in an 8-hour zoom session Wednesday. Missing from S.B. 1024, was section 6, which included new rules regarding transit oriented development, language that allowed “as of right” mixed-use and multifamily developments within one-half mile of a town’s primary transit station. Section six also would have allowed multifamily housing or at least two types of “middle housing” within one-quarter mile of at least one main street corridor in towns with a population of at least 7,500.  Also absent from the approved

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Legislature to Hold Wednesday Hearing on Raft of Housing and Zoning Legislation

HARTFORD — A raft of zoning and housing bills introduced in the state legislature since January turn on key points concerning the balance of home rule and state control, as well as issues of housing affordability, racial integration and equity. A number of these bills have received hearings variously in Transportation, Planning and Development, Housing and Budget and Finance committees, and while legislators interviewed by CT Examiner expect that some provisions will eventually pass into law, very few of these bills will receive a vote and fewer still in their current form. “These are works in progress and there’s a

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Middle Haddam Couple Tailors One-of-a-Kind Safaris in Africa

MIDDLE HADDAM — “It’s almost like you’re on a different planet. The fact that the animals are in charge, you’re a guest there and you realize that pretty quickly. This is their habitat. This is their world, and you’re visiting,” said Pierre Faber, co-owner of Classic Africa, a safari company that custom designs trips to southern and eastern Africa.  “That’s a very different feeling from what you’re accustomed to if you’ve grown up in the developed world so it’s a very powerful experience,” he said. “People fall in love with it. A lot of our clients are very well traveled

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Developer Meets Unanimous Opposition at Contentious Middle Haddam Historic District Meeting

EAST HAMPTON — Despite warnings from the attorney for the developer, the Middle Haddam Historic District Commission will oppose a proposed zone change for a property located in the historic district at the April Planning and Zoning meeting. Developer William Wayne Rand, under the name Long Hill Estates, LLC, has proposed a zone change from R-2 to commercial for a new 1.5-acre lot that is currently part of 53 Long Hill Road, a 17.6-acre parcel that he purchased on Nov. 20, 2020. The proposed new lot is next to Sports on 66 at 265 West High St and is expected

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With Vernal Pool in Question, Hearing for Halls Rd Gas Station to Continue

OLD LYME — Lack of current data on a vernal pool located near the proposed Big Y Express gas station and convenience store delayed the decision of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission during a public hearing on the project Tuesday night.   A six-bay gas station and 2,100-square-foot convenience store are proposed for connecting properties at 99 Halls Road and 25 Neck Road that total 2.18 acres when combined. Essex Savings Bank, located on an adjacent property at 101 Halls Road, owns both parcels. The commission will decide whether or not the project will have significant impact on the vernal

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Saybrook Point Restaurant Clears First Hurdle, Meets Favorable Response

OLD SAYBROOK — Smoke on the Water, a 300-seat outdoor restaurant slated for the former waterfront site of Dock & Dine, received the first of three necessary regulatory approvals at Monday night’s meeting of the town’s Zoning Commission. The Zoning Commission unanimously approved a zoning text amendment that will allow an outdoor restaurant for a maximum of 180 calendar days in the SP-2 zone, known as Saybrook Point.  The amendment created a regulation that allows the applicant, Jon Kadama, owner of the Dock & Dine parcel at 145 College St., and chef Colt Taylor, to apply for a special exception —

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The Cooley Gallery at 35

OLD LYME — “At any given time, I think we’re probably thought of as being a gallery of Old Lyme impressionists, but our tastes are far broader than that,” said Jeff Cooley, who co-owns the Cooley Gallery with his wife, Betsey Cooley. The couple began by renting the front room of 25 Lyme Street in 1986 and slowly leased more space at the back of the building and upstairs. When the property went on the market in 1989, the Cooleys bought it.  “When we moved here, it became clear pretty quickly that by virtue of being in Old Lyme, people

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Housing Development in Madison Sparks Opposition, Legal Fight

MADISON — A proposed seven-unit development at 856 Boston Post Road may comply with the town’s new regulations for cluster housing, but a growing number of town residents oppose the project, including some who have hired an attorney to intervene in the process. The project would renovate the interior of The Ledges into two housing units and add a two-car garage for each unit. The 5-bedroom, 5,586-square-foot house was originally built in 1903 on 1.81 acres. Behind the house, two duplexes would be constructed, each with a two-car garage per unit, in addition to a single unit “gatehouse” home that

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A Rundown of Testimony from Local Residents on New Housing and Zoning Rules Proposed by Desegregate CT

Legislators, local officials and members of the public testified in total for more than 24 hours and submitted an additional 365 letters — splitting roughly 60 percent in favor to 40 percent opposed to Senate Bill 1024. The bill represents the platform of Desegregate Connecticut, an affiliate of the Regional Plan Association and self-described coalition of more than 60 organizations focused on an “overall goal of tackling segregation in land use laws.”  Below are excerpts from letters for and against the bill from residents of southeastern Connecticut:  … I strongly believe that the zoning reforms in SB 1024 will positively impact communities across

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Housing Debate in Legislature Stretches into Day Two

As of 6 p.m. Monday, the debate regarding the controversial zoning bill 1024 in the legislature’s Planning and Development Committee had lasted eight hours, with a few brief breaks to discuss other legislation. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, the debate continued… “It allows towns to focus development around infrastructure where it already exists in our main streets and train stations in those areas representing less than one percent of the state. Local town boards would write the rules in advance and the staff would administer them — that’s what we mean by ‘as of right,’ not a free for all,”

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‘A lot more moving parts,’ Old Saybrook Official Says of Restaurant Approval

OLD SAYBROOK — A zoning text amendment change is one of three approvals needed for Smoke on the Water, an outdoor restaurant proposed for the former Dock and Dine site at 145 College St.  Christina Costa, zoning enforcement officer for the town, said the text amendment on the Zoning Commission agenda tonight must receive approval and an effective date must be set before the commission can consider the applicant’s request for a special exception for an outdoor restaurant.  “You can’t approve the special exception without the regulation being approved first,” said Costa. The applicant, Jon Kodama, owner of the Dock

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A Battle Pitting Local versus State Control at the Heart of Legislation to Change Housing in Connecticut

Local regulation of accessory apartments, mixed-use developments and multifamily housing could change dramatically if new legislation supported by the coalition Desegregate Connecticut is signed into law. Bill 1024 is among a number of housing bills on the public hearing agenda of the Planning and Development Committee of the General Assembly on Monday at 10 a.m.  The bill represents the platform of Desegregate Connecticut, an affiliate of the Regional Plan Association and self-described coalition of more than 60 organizations focused on an “overall goal of tackling segregation in land use laws.”  Among some of its components, Bill 1024 would allow accessory

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Essex Savings Bank Meets Opposition to Plans for Halls Road Service Plaza

OLD LYME — At its Thursday meeting, the Halls Road Improvements Committee addressed two officers of Essex Savings Bank concerning the committee’s opposition to a Big Y Express gas station and convenience store proposed for a property on Halls Road that is owned by the bank.  “One of our biggest concerns is putting in a gas station on this property goes in exactly the opposite direction of what we were trying to get to,” said committee Chair Edie Twining, who said it was unlikely that the property will ever be redeveloped for another use once the infrastructure for a gas

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Public Weighs in on Proposed 300-seat Outdoor Restaurant in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — The proposal for Smoke on the Water, a 300-seat outdoor restaurant slated for the site of the former Dock & Dine at 145 College St, has attracted significant public attention, both positive and negative, as the project works its way through the town’s approval process for zoning and planning. The plan calls for two large charcoal smokers centered around a fire pit and eight high-tech trailers — two equipped for food prep, one set up for alcohol service, one to house portable restrooms, and others to store supplies. The trailers would be on-site for 180 days or

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A Quick Peek at Marker 37 in Chester

CHESTER — “Cooking the food and making it absolutely taste outstanding, I don’t stop there. It’s so gratifying to see a waitress drop the food off at a table and see the customer immediately smile even before they’ve eaten the food. That is what I want the experience to be, said David Saunders, chef of Marker 37, a restaurant under construction on Railroad Ave. at Chester Marina.  Saunders, who has been the chef of Saybrook Soup and Sandwich Co. since 2010, said his new venture, named for its location on the Connecticut RIver, will feature a “contemporary aquatic” menu with

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Brian Keith Stephens Opens “Almost True Tales,” at the Lyman Allyn

NEW LONDON — “Animals in fables are kind of a bridge to humans. Symbolically, the animals take on human characteristics, that’s what I was trying to get at,” said painter Brian Keith Stephens, whose show, “Almost True Tales” at the Lyman Allyn Museum incorporates animals in mythology, folklore and culture.  Cheetahs, elephants, lions, wolves, buffalo, deer, foxes, sheep, hares, whales, flamingoes, swans, tortoises, frogs, and many more — Stephens, 47, is known for his large-scale paintings of creatures in nature. In this show of about 18 works, he ties his fascination with the wild kingdom to fables that he said

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New London Wins 10-Year Commitment For Northeast Offshore Deal on State Pier

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HARTFORD — State officials announced today the signing of a Host City Agreement between New London and a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource that includes a 10-year commitment paying the city an average of at least $1 million each year during offshore wind operations at State Pier. “Today’s agreement makes Connecticut’s role as a leader in the offshore wind industry official, with New London now poised to become the premier commercial east coast hub for this sector and our state set to become a leader in the transition to renewable energy and the fight against climate change,” Gov. Ned Lamont

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Cottage Road Housing Development in Madison to Break Ground in 2022

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MADISON — The 1808 home of Henry Josiah Meigs at 131 Cottage Road is slated to become part of Wellington at Madison, a 31-unit housing complex with 24 affordable and 7 market rate units situated on 2.6 acres.  The project is a collaboration between HOPE Partnership, a Connecticut nonprofit that develops affordable housing, and the Caleb Group, a nonprofit that has created affordable housing communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.  “The way it’s designed is smaller buildings that really actually do give you that community and village kind of feel to it. It isn’t a five-story building. It

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Neighboring Businesses Raise Sharp Questions About Proposed Gas Station on Halls Road

OLD LYME — Two longtime business owners on Halls Road are concerned about the potential consequences of a proposed Big Y Express gas station and convenience store slated for connecting properties at 99 Halls Road and 25 Neck Road. The application for the project is on the agenda of tonight’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission special meeting at 5:30 via Webex. The commission will decide whether or not the project will have significant impact on the wetlands and vernal pool on the properties. If the commission decides the project will have significant impact then a public hearing is required no

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Wednesday Webinar on Benefits of Foreign Trade Zone for New London County Businesses

New London’s Foreign Trade Zone #208, which now covers all of New London County, will hold an introductory webinar on Feb. 24 at 10 a.m. covering benefits and features of the foreign trade zone program.  Dan Carstens, a trade and logistics specialist accredited by the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones will lead the webinar, which is geared toward leaders in business, real estate, municipalities and economic development.  This follows the announcement on Dec. 20, that the region had received federal approval as an Alternative Site Framework, allowing the foreign-trade zone to include the entire county. This new designation means

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Stonington Fellow Kirstin Valdez Quade to Read from Her Novel ‘The Five Wounds’

STONINGTON — Kirstin Valdez Quade wasn’t planning to write a novel but a few characters from her short stories wouldn’t let her go.  One of her short stories, “The Five Wounds,” was published in the New Yorker in 2009 and was included in her collection of short stories, “Night at the Fiestas,” in 2014. “My editor emailed me and asked if I’d ever considered turning [the story] into a novel and my immediate thought was absolutely not and I think I wrote something back saying thank you so much for the idea but no, I’m working on short stories,” she

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Town Officials Debate Sidewalk Alternatives for Ferry Road

OLD LYME — At their Thursday meeting, members of the town’s Tree Commission considered an alternative plan for Ferry Road sidewalks that would save about 10 trees slated for removal by moving the sidewalk to the opposite side of the road.  First Selectman Tim Griswold, who attended the commission meeting, compared the south side of Ferry Road where a privet hedge, a vinyl fence and potentially two trees would need to be removed, to the north side of the street where 10 of 13 trees would need to be taken down to accommodate the sidewalk replacement project.  “If we relocated

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Calling Ethics Commission ‘Totally Dysfunctional,’ Chair Proposes New Rules

OLD LYME — The new chair of the town’s Ethics Commission, Jane Cable, has requested increased funding to hire independent legal counsel to rewrite the ethics code for the town.  Cable, who was appointed to the commission and became chair on Dec. 2, 2020, asked the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday for an increase in the commission budget from $1,900 to $7,500 to cover legal costs.  “The Ethics Commission when I joined was totally dysfunctional because the code doesn’t give directions for a well-functioning Ethics Commission. It needs more than minor revisions,” said Cable. “It also needs oversight by the

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