South Lyme Marina, a ‘Diamond in the Rough’

SOUTH LYME — “This place used to be cool. Even five or six years ago there were 48 boats here and this past year there were only six and a lot of it is due to the conditions — it’s not in the best of shape,” said Michael Barnes, who gestured to the wooden docks and sprawling gravel parking lot of the marina he bought on Nov. 9. “It’s a diamond in the rough,” he said. “There’s good fishing in the river and Long Island Sound is right there.”  Located at 8 Bank St., the 2.2-acre property — which Barnes

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By Building Community, Natusch Guides New London Preservation

NEW LONDON — For Laura Natusch, historic preservation and building community go hand-in-hand.  “It’s very important to me that the history that we are preserving reflects our community – that people who grew up here feel like their lives mattered,” said Natusch. Natusch is the executive director of New London Landmarks, a non-profit in New London that teaches people about the area’s history through walking tours, narrative projects and the renovation of historic buildings.  Natusch said that preservation creates a kind of “community genealogy.”  Her goal is to highlight a history that reflects the entire community, not just a single

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Sewer Agreements an Obstacle for Hatchetts Hill Development

OLD LYME — Sewage capacity — how it’s shared, and who apportions it — could become an obstacle for developers of a proposed 224-unit housing development off Hatchetts Hill Road. The complex is expected to include 67 units of affordable housing under state statute 8-30g. The 11-building complex will require a capacity of 50,000 gallons per day, said Mark Diebolt, who, with his two partners, plans to build the project on a 20.6-acre site at 49 Hatchetts Hill Road. Currently, the town has negotiated for 300,000 gallons of sewage outflow to a treatment plant in New London each day. That

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East Lyme Triples Wetlands Review Area, Raises Questions

EAST LYME — By a vote of 5 to 2 on Monday night, the town’s Inland Wetland Agency tripled its mandatory review area from 100 to 300 feet for projects around inland wetlands and watercourses, giving the agency the broadest blanket oversight in the region. The review area is the distance from an inland wetland or watercourse where the agency reviews all projects that could affect the waters, including moving dirt, cutting trees, modifying the ground, or building on it. The decision came after five months of deliberations, beginning with a July proposal to expand the review area to 500

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Committee Votes to Adopt New Governance Model for Lyme

LYME — The Town of Lyme Succession Planning Committee voted unanimously to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that the town adopt a governance model that would retain the Board of Selectmen but include additional paid staffing positions. In previous meetings, the committee had narrowed down their choices to two models: a Board of Selectmen with additional paid staff and a shift to a town council with a town manager. Steve Mattsen, the first selectman, said at the meeting that the town was in no position to form a town council, since that would require a change in the town

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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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The ‘Secular Religion’ of Jennifer Grotz

STONINGTON — “What I say instead of ‘I write’ every day is ‘I scribble,’ which to me lowers the stakes,” said poet Jennifer Grotz.  Grotz has published three books of poetry and is at work on her fourth. “I like to just scribble to just slowly accrue language. If I have a phrase that pops into my head, I might literally just write down those three words or if I’m at a bar and I’m eavesdropping and somebody says something funny, I write that down, or a memory. I collect all of that,” said Grotz (pronounced (Grōtz), the James Merrill

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Somers Pushes for Quicker COVID Tests for Volunteer Firefighters

GROTON — State Sen. Heather Somers is pushing for Gov. Ned Lamont to allow trained EMTs to test firefighters at local fire stations once a week for COVID-19 as a proactive measure against the spread of the virus. “So many of these firehouses are volunteers. They’re taking time off to fight the fires and go on the emergency calls,” said Somers noting that 10 firefighters were reported testing positive at the New London Fire Department four days ago.  There are 315 fire departments with a total of about 26,800 firefighters in Connecticut, of that number about 22,350 are volunteers, according

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Halda Therapeutics Joins Redevelopment of Winchester Arms in New Haven

Halda Therapeutics, a Branford-based biotech company founded by Yale professor Craig Crews, is returning to New Haven.  The drug discovery startup signed a lease on a 9,800 square foot lab and office space in Science Park, located just west of Yale’s Science Hill campus at the former Winchester Arms factory. Halda recently completed a $25 million round of Series A financing. The move was announced Wednesday in a press release from Winchester Partners, a joint venture of Twining Properties, L+M Development Partners and the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, which owns the former factory, a 145,000 square-foot building at 115

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An Investor and Self-Described “Do-er” Takes a Crack at New London

NEW LONDON — “One thing about New London is there are quite a few investors — and they’re called investors for a reason — but it doesn’t mean they’re doers,” said contractor David Preka. “Buying a piece of property and letting it stay as is just because you’re an investor and you’re waiting for an opportunity — that really hurts the city,” he complained. “It hurts the people around it, not just in New London, anywhere around. Unfortunately New London seems to be held a little bit hostage with a few of those.” Preka, 38, owns Advanced Group, a residential

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Developer Withdraws Application for Banner Estates

EAST HADDAM — For the second time, the owners of Banner Country Club Estates have withdrawn a zoning amendment application that would have allowed them to convert a large, empty banquet hall into a residential apartment building.  At the Planning and Zoning meeting Tuesday night, James Ventres, zoning enforcement officer and land use administrator for the town, read aloud a letter from attorney John S. Bennet, which stated that issues between his client, property co-owners Anthony and Frank Longhitano, and the existing condominium association of Banner Country Club Estates had not been resolved and that the application was officially withdrawn.

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Car Thefts Again Hit Area

EAST LYME — Four cars were stolen in the Niantic area on the evening of November 9-10, the latest in a series of car thefts happening throughout Connecticut and the greater New England area this year. Mike Finkelstein, Chief of Police in East Lyme, said these thefts are something that affect the shoreline towns “in waves.”  The four cars stolen were a Highlander, an Escape, a Ford and a Passat. Two of the four were discovered in New Britain; the other two remain missing. No one has yet been identified in connection with the theft.  In addition to the four

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Chester, Deep River, Essex Schools Adopt Remote Learning until Nov. 30

Multiple exposures of students and staff to Covid-19 cases have led schools in Chester, Deep River and Essex to transition to remote learning until November 30.  There are currently 23 staff members and 123 students in the district who are in quarantine, according to a letter from Region 4 Superintendent Brian White. In addition, the letter said, the district is investigating a number of new cases in conjunction with the Connecticut River Area Health District. Both Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School dismissed early on Thursday after the schools learned about a positive case of a student

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Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center Plans Purchase of Bee and Thistle Inn in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — The iconic Bee and Thistle Inn, known over the years as a destination restaurant, cozy watering hole, wedding venue and getaway bed and breakfast, will soon be transformed into the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, a nature and education organization that is part of the Connecticut Audubon Society, if the plans get the go-ahead this fall. Claudia Weicker, Roger Tory Peterson’s board chair, said Monday in an interview with CT Examiner that she expects the center will close on the property before the end of 2020. Phased renovations within the existing historic footprint are expected to last from

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A Round Up of Endorsements

CT Examiner has assembled a round up of major endorsements How they endorsed The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund gives out letter grades to candidates based on their voting records, public statements and their responses to a questionnaire. “Aq” means a candidate received an “A” grade based only on their answers in the questionnaire. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association grades lawmakers by their votes on 10 bills the association considered priorities in the 2019 legislative session, so there are only grades for incumbent candidates. If a candidate takes more votes that CBIA considers pro-business – such as voting

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Bride Brook Development Advances, at Odds with Town Planning

EAST LYME —  In its referral to the town’s Zoning Commission, the East Lyme Planning Commission unanimously agreed on Tuesday night that a proposal for “Brookside Apartments,” an 80-unit development on North Bride Brook Road, submitted under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing statute, was inconsistent with the town’s 2009 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), with a few exceptions. The Planning Commission found that the site lacks public transportation and is not close to a village center, as recommended by the POCD for affordable housing projects. The commission did, however, find that the proposal met provisions in the POCD for

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Historic District Plans Preservation of Hand-painted Signs in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — The Old Saybrook Historic District Commission is raising funds to preserve and restore three historic advertisements hand-painted on the side of the Sheffield building at the corner of Main and Sheffield Street.  The red brick-and-mortar building, a historic landmark constructed by Amos Sheffield in 1853, is the oldest brick commercial building in town. From 1907-1945, it was the Stokes Brothers’ Grocery Store. The store was a place where locals would pick up their mail, sit around on pickle barrels and hear the latest news. They could have fresh vegetables, groceries, hardware and paint delivered in a Ford

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Sidewalks Plan Explained in Information Session

OLD LYME — The Community Connectivity Grant Committee held a virtual public information session Thursday night to explain the costs and a projected schedule for installing sidewalks on sections of Hartford Ave. and Shore Road.  The town was awarded a $400,000 Community Connectivity Grant in January 2019 and chose BSC Group, of Glastonbury, as the design firm in January 2020. The grant has a 3-year timeline to use the funding, Mary Jo Nosal, chair of the committee and a selectman for the town, presented a budget summary showing the grant will cover construction costs estimated at $287,000 for 970 feet

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Halls Road Committee Gets Go-ahead from Finance for Masterplan

OLD LYME — The Board of Finance has approved $48,000 in carryover funding for a master plan proposal submitted by the Halls Road Improvement Committee. The approval came at the board’s Tuesday night meeting, a day after the Board of Selectmen approved the project with a “not to exceed $48,000” stipulation.  Edie Twining, chair of the committee, and Kurt Prochorena, an engineer at BSC Group, which won the job with a bid of $46,500, presented the seven-page proposal, which includes the development of updated base mapping using existing town GIS and assessment data, 2016 orthophotography and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR)

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Local Residents Question Turf Field Proposal at Open Forum

LYME/OLD LYME — The need for an artificial turf field was the topic of a Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education’s public forum on Wednesday night.  The project – which has been in the works for years – would cost the district at least $2.1 million and replace the current unirrigated, practice field with a 140,000 square foot artificial turf field with the lines for soccer, lacrosse, baseball and softball marked. The field would be placed above tubing components of the school’s geothermal wells, but would not cover the access point or pump.  Funding for the project would be drawn from

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Mixed Response to Announced $50 Million in Funding for Small Businesses

Today’s announcement of Gov. Ned Lamont’s small business relief program received mixed responses from business associations, some welcoming the funding, while others argued that it is not enough to help the many small stores and restaurants that have lost revenue from the COVID pandemic. Lamont announced $50 million in CARES Act funding to be given out in the form of $5,000 grants to 10,000 small businesses across the state. To qualify for the funding, a business must have 20 or fewer employees or a 2019 revenue of $1.5 million or less.  The program falls short of the $70 million in

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Finance Director Resigns After 4 Months with Region 4 Schools

ESSEX/DEEP RIVER/CHESTER — After less than four months on the job, Kelly Sterner, finance director of the Region 4 Public Schools announced her resignation.  “Our Finance Director, Kelly Sterner has announced her intention to resign from the position later this fall,” said Brian White, Superintendent for the Region 4 School District. “Ms. Sterner is committed to supporting the district through this period of transition.” Sterner’s resignation comes after a year of frequent turnover in the district. The last full-time business manager, Kimberly Allen, resigned in November of 2019 following the departure of the former Superintendent Ruth Levy and the Facilities

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Halls Road Project Heads to Board of Finance for Approval

OLD LYME —  The Halls Road Improvements Committee received the go-ahead from the Board of Selectmen on Monday to take the committee’s proposal for hiring a firm that will create a master plan to the town’s Board of Finance for approval.  The Halls Road committee, which was established in 2015, has approximately $48,000 in leftover funds carried over from earlier efforts to hire Yale Design Urban Workshop and to implement tax increment financing in the town’s shopping district. Repurposing that funding requires approval by the Board of Finance. The project is to hire the BSC Group, an engineering firm from

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Nurses Picket Backus Hospital as Negotiations Hit an Impasse

NORWICH — Nurses at Backus Hospital in Norwich began a two-day strike at 7 a.m. today as contract negotiations between the union and the hospital reached an impasse.  A few hundred nurses picketed in the pouring rain, holding signs that read “Nurses Strike for Unfair Labor Practice” and “Honk if You Love Nurses.”  The hospital and nurses had 22 negotiating sessions, the most recent beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday and lasting more than 10 hours.  According to Sherri Dayton, president of the Backus Federation of Nurses, the Sunday negotiating session ended with the hospital’s lawyer telling the union negotiating

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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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East Lyme Selectmen Set Aside FEMA Funding As Contingency

The East Lyme Board of Selectmen voted to put the remaining FEMA funds from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy in a contingency fund on Wednesday evening, and left open the possibility that some of the funds could go towards purchasing body cameras for the East Lyme Police Department.  There is $327,046.72 from the surprise $1.73 million in FEMA reimbursements East Lyme received in August for infrastructure repairs following the two damaging storms in 2011 and 2012.  The town had already appropriated $203,560.89 of those FEMA funds as part of the $4.4 million Niantic Bay Boardwalk project that was approved in 2014.

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Shoreline Bike Plans Stymied at Eastern Point Road in Groton

GROTON — A state proposal to reconfigure lanes on a road near Electric Boat’s Groton campus could be a key piece of a proposed bike-friendly corridor along the shoreline from Rhode Island to the Connecticut River, but the Connecticut Department of Transportation says there isn’t room on the road for traditional bike lanes. The proposal from CTDOT would reconfigure the lanes on Eastern Point Road between its intersections with Benham Road to Chester Street, eliminating one southbound driving lane so that there would be one lane in either direction, with wider shoulders. That section of road serves the South Yard

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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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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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