Six Single-Family Houses Planned for Rental in Madison

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MADISON — A local group of developers is proposing to build six single family houses, each 1,000-square-feet in size, on a little over a half acre of land under a state statute that allows affordable housing developers to bypass local zoning approvals. The proposal has raised considerable concern among neighboring residents. Nearly 50 Madison residents signed a letter urging the Planning and Zoning Commission to oppose the project over concerns with additional traffic and potential hazards of burying six septic systems on the .55-acre property. It’s the latest in a string of proposals for multifamily housing that have drawn neighborhood

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East Lyme Schools to Consider Southern Connecticut State Model For Bias

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EAST LYME — The school district’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is considering the usefulness of developing a formal protocol to address issues of hate speech and bias in the district.  The model is based on a document created by Southern Connecticut State University that aims to create a process for students to bring forward complaints of bias to a team of individuals who are trained to handle these incidents.  “This is something I would really like to potentially replicate here in East Lyme,” Superintendent Jeffrey Newton said at a meeting of the committee on Tuesday.  Newton told CT Examiner

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Closing a Season and a Chapter of Life on the Water

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It ended tranquilly, with a gentle bump in the night of boat against wooden pier.  When Chester-Hadlyme Ferry Captain John Marshall nosed the vessel into the Chester landing as 7 p.m. approached Tuesday, it marked not only the boat’s last trip of the season, but was the soon-to-retire Marshall’s final crossing of the Connecticut River that he’d made countless thousands of times in his 22 years at the helm. CT Examiner spent Marshall’s last few hours on the historic ferry with him as he spoke about his unusual career, the boat that became his second home, and his more than

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North Stonington Selectmen Vote to End Fight With Solar Farm Developer

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NORTH STONINGTON – After its proposal to clear-cut 44 acres of woodland for a 9.9 megawatt solar farm was rejected by state officials in a surprise tie vote in September, Nashville-based Silicon Ranch offered the town’s board of selectmen a deal. The company would scale back the project to 8.35 megawatt, constraining it entirely south of the Norwich-New London Turnpike, if the town agreed to drop its opposition to the proposal at the Connecticut Siting Council. If the town didn’t agree, the company said it would go ahead with re-submitting its full 9.9 MW proposal with enough revisions to satisfy

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State Pier Complaint Dismissed by Superior Court

A local road salt distributor’s attempt to reverse a state permit for the redevelopment of the New London State Pier was dismissed by a Superior Court judge on Wednesday. New Britain Superior Court Judge John Cordani ruled that DRVN did not have standing to bring its appeal against the Connecticut Port Authority’s permit to fill about 7 acres of water between the two New London piers as part of its development into an offshore wind hub. DRVN argued that DEEP issuing the permit to the port authority led to State Pier being closed, which erased the company’s ability to import

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Developer Pulls Back, Town Moves Ahead on Swing Bridge Landing Vote

EAST HADDAM – The developer of the proposed Swing Bridge Landing has hit the pause button on his $50 million downtown commercial redevelopment, but the town is moving forward with creating a redevelopment agency to oversee any potential transformation of the historic riverfront village. “He’s on hold depending what the town does,” First Selectman Irene Haines said at a Monday night meeting of the East Haddam Village Revitalization Committee of the developer, local architect Jeff Riley and his Centerbridge group of investors.  “I think at this point they’re not ready to pull the plug yet,” she said later of Riley’s

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Salt Business Challenges Port Authority and DEEP in Court Over State Pier Permit

Deciding who is entitled to use the New London State Pier emerged as a key question in a local salt distributor’s ongoing appeal of a state permit needed for the pier’s redevelopment. Attorneys for the Connecticut Port Authority and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection argued during a virtual hearing on Monday that Superior Court Judge John Cordani should dismiss road salt distributor DRVN’s appeal – which seeks to overturn a permit DEEP approved in August that would allow the port authority to fill about seven acres between the two existing piers as part of its redevelopment into an offshore

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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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How Madison Turned Blue

This is the first in a series of reports by CT Examiner on towns across Connecticut changing partisan complexion — some red to blue and others blue to red. Madison, Connecticut was a Republican town. Two decades ago, there were nearly twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats, and while a plurality of voters were not affiliated with either party, the town consistently elected Republicans and had a classically conservative sensibility.  “The Democratic party wasn’t even formed in Madison until the early 1960s,” said Al Goldberg, a member of the Madison Board of Selectmen. “There was no opposition party. People

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Madison Selectmen Okay $89.5 Million in Borrowing, Debate Use of Undesignated Fund

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MADISON — The Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to recommend borrowing up to $89.5 million for a school renewal project and $15.9 million for the conversion of the former Academy School building to a community center.  The bonds would be paid off over 25 years. First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons estimated that the cost to the taxpayers would average of $181 per $100,000 of assessed property value per year — $28 for the Academy School bond and $153 for the bonds associated with the school renewal plan — taking into account expected reimbursement from the state.  The cost would be

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New London Police Chief Moves on From Allegations

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NEW LONDON – Back on the job after being cleared of misconduct allegations by one of his own men, police Chief Brian Wright says his only focus is moving the department, and himself, past the turbulence that marked his roller-coaster initial weeks as the city’s first Black chief.  Saying he was “ecstatic” to be back on duty, Wright spoke to CT Examiner on Monday while still settling back into his office after a six-week absence.  “It was difficult, and there was a lot of emotion involved in it,” Wright said of being the subject of a sexual-harassment and retaliation complaint

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A 3 – 2 – 1 Pie Pastry

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So you want to make a pie for Thanksgiving… Here’s an exceptionally easy recipe that reaches back to French pastry technique, using just a fraction more butter than a typical American pie to achieve a more forgiving pastry and a classic tender-flaky result. The recipe itself is a simple proportion: 3 parts flour, 2 parts cold butter, 1 part cold water (by weight). And the idea is to sidestep a few basic problems of pastry that begin when you add water to flour by first ‘waterproofing’ the dough with a little bit of extra butter. A basic two crust 9-inch

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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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Court Ruling Invalidates Supermajority Rule, Opens Approval to Methadone Clinic

MIDDLETOWN – A recent court ruling could upend the local Planning and Zoning Commission’s requirement that a supermajority approve any application, and would reverse the commission’s recent decision to deny approval to a proposed methadone clinic on Washington Street. The decision from Middletown Superior Court Judge Rupal Shah comes in response to an appeal the Root Center filed after it was denied a zone change to build a methadone treatment clinic where Fine Tunes Auto Repair is on Washington Street.  It was the first application for a methadone clinic made after the commission unanimously ended  Middletown’s prohibition on methadone clinics

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Close, But Not There Yet on East Haddam Village Vote

EAST HADDAM – Under pressure of legal deadlines and holidays and a developer’s building impatience, the joint meeting of the boards of Selectmen and Finance was called this week to move along in redesigning the future of the downtown village. But in the end, that goal was derailed by the boards’ agreement that the process had become a doomed-to-fail example of the cart before the horse — an expression that came up repeatedly during the session. “It seems, in my humble opinion, that the cart is sort of before the horse here,” finance board member Harvey Thomas said less than

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Middletown Board of Education Cancels Planned Closed-Door ‘Retreat’

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MIDDLETOWN — The Board of Education walked back a decision to hold a behind-closed-doors retreat on Saturday that would have violated state freedom of information laws. According to the posted agenda, the board planned to discuss five items in an executive session, or behind closed doors. These items included a discussion of the responsibilities of the school board, an overview of the Strategic Operation plan, board goals, the school website, and a discussion of a committee on personnel.  That plan came under fire from one local resident, in a widely distributed letter, who pointed out that such a meeting would

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Zoning Approves Virtual Gun Range as Residents Debate Pros and Cons

EAST LYME – The town’s Zoning Commission voted Thursday night to approve a virtual gun range proposed to fill the vacant former Bob’s Discount Furniture store, after a crowd that spilled out of the chamber spoke both for and against the new business. Residents who spoke in opposition said they were primarily concerned with the impact that the range could have on children, drawing attention to how close the building is to East Lyme’s middle and high schools. Turning shooting into a game isn’t the right message to send to young people, they said, especially considering the prevalence of gun

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Lyme-Old Lyme Parents Voice Concerns at Board of Education Meeting

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LYME-OLD LYME — Local parents voiced concerns on Wednesday evening about a $42 to $52 million facilities project that could potentially change the ways that grade levels are distributed across the different school buildings.   In a presentation to the Board of Education, Rusty Malik, a partner at the architectural firm QA + M, laid out six options for the community to consider. The options ranged from upgrades to HVAC and heating systems and accessibility upgrades to the building of a new school.  Malik said that the most basic of the options — an estimated cost of $42 million to the

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Chief Brian Wright Returns to Head the New London Police Department

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NEW LONDON – Police Chief Brian Wright returned to his job today after an investigation cleared him of a sexual harassment and “retaliation” complaint filed the day he was suspended on Oct. 6, Mayor Michael Passero said in a brief press release. According to the release, the complaint against Wright, the city’s first Black police chief who was suspended after only three months on the job, stemmed from when he was still a captain, and was involved in performing internal investigations that led to discipline against officers. “The independent investigation into the complaint and allegations made against the Chief of

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Meeting Tonight in Westbrook to Allocate Federal Aid

WESTBROOK — The town will hold a special meeting tonight in order to approve portions of $2 million in federal coronavirus relief funds that would benefit senior citizens in town.    First Selectman John Hall said that the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectman wanted to direct the funding towards the people who were the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic: seniors, youth and those in an economically tenuous position.  Sara Zaientz, the director of Westbrook’s Youth and Family Services, said that her agency, along with the Senior Center, Social Services and the Visiting Nurses Association, wanted to prioritize

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Zoning Commission Considers Broader Allowance for Drive-Thru and Fuel Sales

OLD SAYBROOK – The town’s Zoning Commission is considering two applications to allow drive-thru restaurants and a gas station and convenience store at the intersection of the Boston Post Road and Spencer Plains Rd. Applications have been filed by separate developers and would ask the commission to expand the allowed use of drive-thru service from the town’s B-2 business zone to include the B-4 zone — along routes to the east, west and north of the downtown. The plans would also ask the town to permit the sale of gasoline as an accessory use to a retail store, like a

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Board of Education Hears Outpouring of Public Concern in Middletown

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MIDDLETOWN — In a  meeting on Tuesday night, parents and members of the community, Mayor Benjamin Florsheim and party leaders of the Common Council, implored the city’s Board of Education to pursue a fair and transparent investigation of claims of harassment by current and former employees of the school district.  More than 20 people addressed the board to voice their concerns about the impartiality of the investigation, the perceived lack of transparency by the board, and to offer support to the superintendent of schools.  Those comments are in part a response to a mid-October joint statement by the teacher’s union,

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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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New Union President Talks New Direction, Move Forward for New London Police

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NEW LONDON – Coming amid a notably rancorous time for the city’s police department, Sgt. Josh Bergeson and others who spoke to CT Examiner on Monday said his election as president of the officers’ union signals a desire in the force for a change of direction and approach from previous union leadership. The 37-year-old Bergeson said one of his immediate goals is to move the department past the fallout over a recent flurry of lawsuits and internal accusations alleging gender and racial discrimination by a small group of supervisors, as well as the still-cloudy suspension last month of the city’s

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East Haddam Aims for Dec. 14 Referendum on Village Redevelopment

EAST HADDAM – Aiming to hold a moved-up Dec. 14 referendum to decide the commercial fate of the riverfront downtown village, town officials and the would-be developer will engage in a series of meetings and negotiations this week that will determine if that time-crunched goal can be made. The tentatively-scheduled referendum date comes nearly two years after local architect Jeff Riley proposed to transform the mostly-vacated municipal site into Swing Bridge Landing, an ambitious mix of commercial, retail and residential development adjacent to its namesake iconic span across the Connecticut River.  Plans include approximately 94,000 square-feet of shops, restaurants and

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State Contracting Standards Boards Takes ‘Unprecedented’ Step in Respler Case

After announcing a formal investigation into Jeffrey Respler to consider whether to disqualify him from bidding on state contracts, David Guay, executive director of the State Contracting Standards Board told CT Examiner that the pending decision would not affect Respler’s  agreement with the Town Groton to redevelop the vacant Mystic Oral School property. Respler signed an agreement with the Town of Groton in February 2020, and was later revealed to have pled guilty to four misdemeanor counts of conspiracy in 2004 related to a contract to install water meters for the City of New York – a fact that could

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Stamford YMCA Faulted for Treatment of Child With Autism

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STAMFORD — The Department of Justice is requiring the Stamford YMCA to make its childcare programs accessible to children on the autism spectrum after a child with special needs was expelled from an afterschool program without warning in January 2020.  The child’s mother, who asked not to be identified out of privacy concerns, said that the child started attending the aftercare program at the YMCA in August of 2018. In the fall of 2019, when her son was in first grade, she said he started coming home very upset almost every day. She said this was shortly after the facility

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East Lyme’s Board of Finance Approves Spending for $1 Million of Federal Aid

EAST LYME – The town’s Board of Finance on Wednesday approved appropriations of  just over $1 million in federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act, including $920,000 to replace an important well near Pattagansett Lake. Public Works Director Joe Bragaw told the board Wednesday night that replacing the town’s only well north of Boston Post Road and Interstate 95 is a necessity, whether it used ARPA funds or bonded for the project – but said he wanted to avoid bonding because it would cause significant increases to water rates. “We just got done with a $6 million treatment plant

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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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Confusion Over Recount Delays, but Does Not Change, Result in Colchester

COLCHESTER – A recount of the Board of Selectmen results affirmed the outcome of Tuesday’s election, with slight changes to the vote totals, but without changes to which candidates earned seats on the board. The recount Wednesday night at the Colchester Town Hall was long and uneventful, affirming that Deborah Bates, Denise Turner, Rosemary Coyle and Jason LaChapelle will have seats on the Board of Selectmen – while Taras Rudko will not retain his seat on the board. Despite the quiet evening, questions about why a recount wasn’t held sooner persisted. Rudko, who earned one more vote on the recount

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