Salt Business Files Objection to State Pier Permitting

The owner of a road salt distributor forced off of the New London State Pier to make way for offshore wind developers filed an objection with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, to permit approvals failing to accommodate his business. Steve Farrelly, owner of the road salt distributor DRVN, which has rented about 3.5 acres on the pier since 2014, said in a formal objection filed with the department that he had been given to understand that existing tenants on the pier would be able to stay through the redevelopment and beyond. Instead, DRVN was told to leave or

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In Vote, Durham Opts for Multiyear Redevelopment of Korn School

DURHAM – In March, the Korn School appeared to be heading towards demolition, but after a successful petition and referendum, the Town of Durham has decided to take over the empty school after all, with the intention of converting the closed building into a multi-purpose community center over the coming years. Durham residents voted 708-546 to have the town take the school from the Region 13 School District for $1 on Tuesday. They also voted 630-606 to approve drawing $1 million from the town’s building reserve fund for the initial project costs, according to unofficial results that include absentee ballots.

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Middletown Council Tables Effort to Withdraw From Power Plant Agreement

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MIDDLETOWN – Despite council members’ objections to plans to build a new natural gas-fired turbine at a Middletown power plant, efforts to end a tax agreement with the plant’s owner have been put temporarily on hold. Mayor Ben Florsheim said during the Common Council meeting Monday night that Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG is open to pursuing a “mutual withdrawal or termination” from a tax stabilization agreement for the company’s power plant on the Connecticut River in south Middletown, which the council approved in 2019. The council voted to table the motion to end the agreement, and to take the measure

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Zoning Commission Denies ‘Smoke on the Water’ Application as Incomplete

OLD SAYBROOK — The Zoning Commission voted unanimously to deny without prejudice the application of Smoke on the Water for a 300-seat outdoor restaurant at the former Dock & Dine, citing an incomplete application for the project at a virtual public hearing Monday night. Commission Chair Robert Friedmann said the commission had the choice to continue the public hearing or to deny the application without prejudice. The latter would allow Jon Kodama, who owns the property, and his business partner, Chef Colt Taylor, to reapply.  Kodama and Taylor were required to submit a complete application 14 days prior to the

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Madison the Site of a Rally for Local Control of Housing and Zoning

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MADISON — In front of Town Hall Saturday, about 45 people, including local and state legislators and members of CT169Strong, rallied against several proposed housing and zoning bills that they said will transfer local control to Hartford.  “The issues that really resonate in Madison are local control — we’re a very engaged community here, people come out and they have opinions. We are really good at problem solving in a way that works for Madison, so I can’t support anything that takes local control away from us,” said Madison Selectman Bruce Wilson, who was among the speakers at the rally. 

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Cultured Studios Opens Shades of Melanin in New London

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NEW LONDON — Artist Kern Bruce began painting a mural at the pop-up show, “Shades of Melanin,” at Cultured Studios Friday night.  “Over time the mural is going to grow and I’m going to be incorporating people that are in the gallery tonight writing different messages about what they’re grateful for and people that they’ve lost,” he said. “So, it’s a living, breathing testimony of life, purpose and perseverance despite the odds.  Bruce, 38, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, said he wanted to make a piece in honor of Black history month and Women’s history month, which were

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Old Saybrook Police Commission Discusses Private Donations, Off-budget Accounts

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s police commissioners raised concerns at a meeting on Monday about the Old Saybrook Police Department’s policies governing private donations and off-budget accounts.  Police Commissioner Alfred “Chubb” Wilcox asked that the commission form a subcommittee to speak with the finance director, First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Chief Michael Spera, the union and other communities, to better understand the donations to the department.  Wilcox questioned whether the police department should accept cash donations, and said that donations that came with requirements or “strings attached” should need commission approval.  Spera said that prohibiting cash donations to the department would

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Lamont Lays Out Spending Priorities for $900 Million of Federal Aid

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Gov. Ned Lamont presented a plan today to direct federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars to increase spending on early childcare, provide premium pay for “frontline” public-sector workers and funding for economic recovery grants.  The state has received $2.6 billion in direct funds through the American Rescue Plan Act. In February, Lamont announced a state budget using $1.75 billion of those funds. Today, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw outlined the governor’s priorities for the remaining $900 million, which she said would not be used to add to the budget, but would instead be spent on programs spanning

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Gateway Approves Outdoor Restaurant Application, Outlines Further Issues for Old Saybrook Zoning

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The Connecticut River Gateway Commission approved Smoke on the Water, a proposed 300-seat outdoor restaurant in Old Saybrook, but agreed to send a letter to the Old Saybrook Zoning Commission outlining a number of concerns outside of Gateway’s jurisdiction. The Zoning Commission is scheduled to consider the project at a public hearing on May 3. Torrance Downes, who serves as senior planner at Gateway, explained in an email to CT Examiner that such issues as ambient smoke, days and hours of operation, noise levels, traffic and the other details are under the jurisdiction of the town’s Zoning Commission rather than

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Saybrook Point Outdoor Restaurant Wins 3 to 2 Vote by Town’s Planning Commission

OLD SAYBROOK — In a three to two vote, the Planning Commission has approved an application for a special exception for Smoke on the Water, a 300-seat outdoor restaurant to be created with customized food trailers at the former Dock and Dine property on College Ave.  “[The property] needs to generate cash flow if there is any chance of moving to a whole building at some point down the road,” said chef Colt Taylor, who is pursuing the project with property owner, Jon Kodama. Taylor said he was grateful to the zoning members who “stepped up and didn’t just follow

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Guilford P&Z Votes for Change to Allow for Multifamily Development

GUILFORD — The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to approve a change in zoning that will allow a shoreline developer to apply to build multifamily housing along the Boston Post Road. Mystic-based Greylock Development Group has a purchase contract to buy 38.8 acres at 2222 and 2240 Boston Post Road, about a mile north of Interstate 95, with plans to develop multi-family housing.  The change affects the front 18.7 acres of the property that Greylock intends to develop. Greylock Managing Partner Ken Navarro said they intend to transfer the remaining 20.1 acres – mostly wetlands that

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Korn School Vote Set for May 4 — a $1 Million Decision

DURHAM – Voters will decide May 4 whether the town of Durham should take over the former Korn School and set aside $1 million for initial repairs and to plan a multi-phase project to develop it into a community center. The referendum will follow a town meeting at 7 p.m. on April 27, at Coginchaug Regional High School. Voting will also be at the high school, and will be combined with the vote on the annual town budget. A petition that gathered 118 valid signatures requires the town to ask at a town meeting if the town should take over

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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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Spot-On Cooking at The Shipwright’s Daughter in Mystic

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MYSTIC — The kitchen was in a groove on a recent Thursday night turning out dish after dish — small and large, across a tightly-woven menu — spot-on. Roast chicken, potatoes, salt, jus, baby lettuce. Roasted maitake mushroom, cashew cream, spicy oil, garlic and ginger chips. A crudo of Stonington scallops. Smoked clam dip and Old Bay chips. It’s the sort of spare, unassuming cooking that reflects confidence in quality ingredients and technique – “convivial cooking,” as the chef David Standridge explained it to me — not cold. The other night he brought his family to eat – and along

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As State Pier Costs Come in High of Estimates, Lawmakers ask ‘How High?’

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The Connecticut State Bond Commission approved an additional $55 million for the New London State Pier redevelopment project on Friday – which officials said is now estimated to cost a total of $235.5 million. The costs for controversial plans to redevelop the State Pier into a staging ground for planned offshore wind projects – touted by state officials but facing local opposition, particularly from businesses that use the pier – were originally pegged at $93 million.  The price was later estimated to be about $157 million, before Gov. Ned Lamont told The Day editorial board in January that the costs

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Madison Police and University of New Haven Plan to Pilot Counselor Ride-alongs

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The Madison Police Department is developing a pilot program with the University of New Haven to arrange for graduate students in the school’s licensed professional counseling program to accompany officers on calls when a social worker is needed.  “I think the next generation of police officers is going to be somebody, he or she, who involves themselves with a social services background, maybe in college,” Madison Police Chief Jack Drumm said during a meeting of the town’s Board of Police Commissioners on April 8.  The program comes in response to a mandate in the police accountability bill passed by the

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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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Middletown Offers Tax Help for Historic Renovations

MIDDLETOWN —  Soon Middletown property owners willing to complete at least $15,000 of restoration work on a historic structure could qualify for up to 10 years of full or partial property tax abatements.  The Middletown Common Council last week voted unanimously to approve the program. Middletown Director of Planning, Conservation and Development Joe Samolis said he’s wanted to set up this kind of program ever since he started working for the city. Samolis previously worked at the State Historic Preservation Office. “I was well aware of the federal aid programs that were available for the general public to use [for

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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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Middletown Moves Forward with Plan to Redevelop Waterfront Parcels

The Middletown Common Council voted unanimously on Monday night to purchase four properties as part of its long-term plan to develop the waterfront.  The purchases, which are valued at $2.55 million, are part of a larger $55 million bonded project to develop properties and improve public infrastructure in Middletown’s downtown and riverfront areas. Voters approved the project in a referendum on November 4.  The four properties include the former Jackson Corrugated Container manufacturer at 225 River Road, and three residential properties at 27, 35, and 41 Eastern Drive. The entire land parcel is nine acres, according to Joseph Samolis, Middletown’s

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Courtney Outlines Federal Aid for the Arts at Shoreline Arts Alliance Roundtable

Rep. Joe Courtney, the Democrat representing Connecticut’s second congressional district, joined the Shoreline Arts Alliance on Friday for a virtual roundtable discussion of federal pandemic relief for the arts.  Courtney shared that the initial pandemic relief from the federal government last year was just a general infusion into the economy in an attempt to mitigate a financial crisis. However, by the end of 2020, he said lawmakers had a much better sense of which industries were going to be hardest hit by the virus, and knew that the arts industry needed particular assistance.  This inspired the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant,

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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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Question of Korn School Renovations Heads to Town Meeting in Durham

DURHAM — Weeks after the town’s Board of Selectman appeared to reject a possible renovation and reuse of the Frances E. Korn Elementary School, the issue is again on the table and will be the subject of a town meeting later this month. The board voted 3-0 in March to reject an offer to take possession of the former elementary school at no cost to the town, as an alternative to demolition by the Region 13 School District. Eileen Buckheit said she circulated the petition that called for the April 26 meeting after she heard from other Durham residents who

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Seek Donations for Teachers and Staff

LYME-OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme School District is asking for donations for its teachers and staff as an expression of appreciation for keeping the school open the entire year. “This has been a truly extraordinary year for us, and the fact that this district has been able to have students in person is a monumental feat,” said Diane Linderman, Chair of the district’s Board of Education.  Ian Neviaser, Superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, said that the district was able to offer in-person learning for the vast majority of the school year, which set it apart from many other districts.

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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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Siting Council to Hold Public Hearing on 47-acre North Stonington Solar Project

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NORTH STONINGTON — The Connecticut Siting Council will hold a public hearing for a proposed 47-acre solar project in the town that has drawn scrutiny from residents and town officials who have questioned whether the residential site is suitable for a large solar development. Nashville-based Silicon Ranch has proposed building a 9.9 megawatt solar project that would cover about 47 acres of land on the north side of Interstate 95, west of Boombridge Road. The project, which would involve clearing about 46 acres of forest. Town officials requested the public hearing, and for the deadline for public comments to be

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Lamont, Courtney Highlight Economic Development in New London

NEW LONDON — Gov. Ned Lamont and Rep. Joe Courtney shared their economic optimism for southeastern Connecticut at a press conference in New London on Wednesday morning. Courtney offered details of President Joe Biden’s newly announced plan to aid the offshore wind industry with low interest loans and expedited federal approval. The Connecticut Port Authority, in cooperation with Eversource and Ørsted, has begun redeveloping State Pier in New London to support the installation offshore wind turbines. “What we’re talking about here is a multigenerational change in terms of how America is going to power its economy and New London is

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Regulators Warn that Third-Party Suppliers Usually Add to Electric Bills

Electricity in Connecticut is expensive, and for customers of Eversource and United Illuminating the possibility of lower-cost power from a third-party supplier can look attractive, but in a report released this week state regulators concluded that those alternatives usually end up costing customers significantly more for the same energy. According to a draft of PURA’s annual report to state lawmakers on the deregulated electric market, most customers who signed up for variable rate electric contracts ended up paying higher prices than they would have under the standard service contract in 2020. The higher cost of third-party energy suppliers was even

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Old Saybrook Commission Votes 5-2 Against Pursuing Allegations of Misconduct

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OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s Police Commission voted 5-2 on Monday night not to pursue an investigation into the conduct of Chief of Police Michael Spera in response to allegations made by former officers in the Old Saybrook Police Department.  Alfred “Chub” Wilcox made a motion to request that the Board of Selectmen fund the commission to hire a lawyer with “expertise in constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The lawyer would interview former and current members of the department, assess the legality of Spera’s orders and practices and report the findings confidentially to the commission.  Wilcox and Renee

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