Irene Haines on Running for East Haddam First Selectman

Irene Haines, who currently represents Colchester, East Haddam, East Hampton in the state legislature, has announced that she is also running this fall on the Republican ticket for East Haddam first selectman. If elected, Haines said she would serve in both capacities. In her first campaign for the General Assembly, Haines defeated Democrat Teresa Govert with 52 percent of the vote in 2018, and was reelected last November with 56 percent of the vote, compared to Democrat Judd Melon’s 42 percent. Haines previously ran for town first selectman in 2017.  Haines also works as an insurance agent, serves as a

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Developers Propose Affordable Housing for Latest Banner Estates Plan

EAST HADDAM – A group of New York developers is back with plans to convert a banquet hall into 20 apartments at Banner Country Club Estates, this time with an affordable component that makes the plan more likely to be approved. Anthony and Frank Longhitano, the owners of Banner Estates, are applying under state statute 8-30g to redevelop an empty 28,000 square-foot banquet hall into 20 one-bedroom apartments – of which six units would be income restricted.  The statute requires municipalities where less than 10 percent of the housing is “affordable” to prove that any rejection of a project is

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East Haddam Budget Cuts Get a Public Hearing on Tuesday

EAST HADDAM — In response to an overwhelming vote to reject the town budget, the Board of Finance has trimmed its proposal to eliminate an increase in property taxes. The board also promised a more transparent process moving forward. The budget is scheduled for a second referendum on July 27, and a public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29, at the Nathan Hale-Ray High School auditorium and streaming on the town YouTube page. David Carbo, who wrote one of the editorials in the East Haddam News opposing the first budget, told the board at a meeting

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Rob Smith Explains What’s Next as East Haddam Budget Defeated 274 to 1,242

East Haddam voters overwhelmingly defeated the town’s budget proposal Tuesday night, by a vote of 274 in favor and 1,242 opposed. The budget included $36.95 million in spending – a $2.49 million increase [7.2 percent] over last year – and would have raised the mill rate by 0.62 mills to 31.06 mills.  In a public hearing and on social media, residents raised concerns about several items in the budget, including wage increases for the first selectman and 20 non-union town employees and camera systems in the town office building and at the transfer station. The Board of Finance will hold

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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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East Haddam Village Redevelopment Draws on Town’s History to Fuel Future Growth

EAST HADDAM – It’s now a barren parking lot surrounded by rusting guardrails and vacant, weathered former municipal buildings. But when local architect Jeff Riley looks at the site of his planned redevelopment of the downtown village, he sees shops, restaurants and apartments, many housed in a replica of the 1838 mansion of William H. Goodspeed, the banker and entrepreneur who built the namesake Goodspeed Opera House directly across the road in 1876. He sees a town green fronting the mansion and other buildings that will host holiday festivals, farmers’ markets and activities for children, a bike shop that will

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Tourism, Traffic, Migrating Fish and Birds — All Part of Planning the Swing Bridge Overhaul

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EAST HADDAM – The first alert is a loud rapid-fire clang of a warning bell like at a railroad crossing, followed in quick sequence by flashing red lights and the wail of a siren. As the sound fades into the air high above the Connecticut River, vehicle-blocking gates on either side of the East Haddam Swing Bridge drop into place. Foot-high steel barriers rise from the deck as further precaution. In a small room over the bridge with windows on all sides, an operator scans live video monitors to ensure all is clear, then presses a series of buttons on

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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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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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East Haddam Draft Budget, Flat Mill Rate, Goes to Hearing May 5

EAST HADDAM — The Board of Finance will present a 2020-21 budget proposal with no anticipated change to taxpayers’ mill rate at a public hearing broadcast on the town’s YouTube page on Tuesday, May 5. Expenditures in the budget proposal total $34.18 million, which would be 1.8 percent or about $614,000 more than the current budget for fiscal year 2019-20. Residents and taxpayers will be able to email questions ahead of the meeting to budget.questions@easthaddam.org and then have their questions addressed at the meeting, according to Board of Finance Chair William DiCristofaro. The zero percent increase in taxes is possible

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Major Repair of Goodspeed Bridge Slated for 2022, Plans for Pedestrian Crossing As Yet Unfunded

One of two remaining swing bridges across the Connecticut River, from East Haddam to Haddam, is in desperate need of repair. The National-Register-eligible structure, located near to the Victorian-era Goodspeed Opera House, is an iconic sight for the Lower Connecticut River Valley. “It will be a significant, substantial overhaul with rehabilitation of mechanical and electrical components as well as the structure and the deck itself,” said Kevin Nursick, the communications director for the Connecticut Department of Transportation. “It will be a multi-year project with significant traffic impacts. You couldn’t really ask for a trickier bridge.” The rehabilitation, scheduled for 2022,

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Needleman, Haines Take Questions on Vaccinations, High School Track, Marijuana, in East Haddam

EAST HADDAM — A state bill that would end the state’s religious exemption for mandated vaccinations was the dominant topic at a Monday forum with East Haddam’s two state legislators.  Amid questions from constituents, Rep. Irene Haines (R-East Haddam) and Sen. Norman Needleman (D-Essex) also touched on 5G infrastructure, medical marijuana, and funding for a track at Nathan Hale-Ray High School. Emily Maxfield, a resident of Portland, said that House Bill 5044 was “icing on the cake for how the state government has been absolutely crushing families. The conversation around the dinner table has now become ‘Why are we here?’

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Longhitano Withdraws Application in East Haddam, Residents Seek Closure

EAST HADDAM — It was announced at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday night that the owners of the Banner Country Club Estates withdrew an application for a special zoning exception that would have allowed them to convert an empty 28,000-square-foot banquet hall into about 20 residential units.  Co-owner Anthony Longhitano formally withdrew the application for an amendment change in the Planned Recreational Development/Resort Zone, a floating zone, in an email sent through his attorney and read into the record by James Ventres, zoning enforcement officer and land use administrator for the town. The change would have allowed buildings

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East Haddam Planning and Zoning Agrees to Draft Denial of Zoning Amendment

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EAST HADDAM — The Planning and Zoning Commission agreed Tuesday night to ask the town’s attorney to write a draft denial of a zoning amendment application that would have allowed the owners of the Banner Country Club Estates banquet hall to convert that empty building into an estimated 20 residential units. “I just feel if we’re doing an ordinance change, it should benefit the town in general, and I don’t see this benefiting the town,” said commission member Edmund J. Gubbins, Jr., during the commission’s Tuesday night meeting. “I see this benefiting one developer and that’s all.” In the application,

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Taxable Property Up 1.78 Percent in East Haddam, Modest Growth in Nearby Towns

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Recent filings of grand lists by Chester, Deep River, East Haddam, and Westbrook show modest growth across the region between October 2018 and October 2019. Of the four towns, East Haddam had the largest increase in its overall grand list, at 1.78 percent. The town’s total net assessment grew from $879,144,920 in 2018 to $894,795,125 in 2019. Westbrook grew 1.12 percent, from $1,149,623,949 in 2018 to $1,162,509,264 in 2019.  Chester’s taxable property grew 0.87 percent, from $441,137,583 to $444,985,360 in 2019. Of the four towns, Deep River had the smallest increase, of 0.34 percent, its total net assessment grew from

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East Haddam Seeks Village Revitalization with Development of Former Goodspeed House and Town Offices

EAST HADDAM — Town officials expect to hear in mid-March a proposal to redevelop a 2.75-acre property containing the former town office building and the one-time residence of William Goodspeed, as part of an effort to revitalize the area around Goodspeed Opera House. “The village is bigger than this particular piece of property, but we’re hoping that this will help make a vibrant village,” said William Gerrish, chair of the East Haddam Village Revitalization Committee. “One that brings economic development to the town where there’s pedestrian access and it’s a part of something the entire community can enjoy. I think

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Zoning Change Allowing Redevelopment of Older Resort Properties Raises Opposition in East Haddam

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EAST HADDAM — A large number of vocal town residents attended the Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing Tuesday on a proposed special exception to change the town’s density rules and allow a developer to convert an empty 28,000-square-foot banquet hall into an estimated 20 or 22 residential spaces. The banquet hall, which was built in the 1930s, is part of Banner Country Club Estates on Banner Road, and would qualify as adaptive reuse under the proposed amendment, according to Gary Hendren, an architect from Boston who represented the applicants, property owners Anthony and Frank Longhitano, of New Rochelle, New

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Nutmeg Pharmacy to Open in Moodus, February 10

EAST HADDAM — Nutmeg Pharmacy plans to hold a grand opening of its new Moodus village location on February 10 at 9 a.m., the pharmacy’s co-owner said in a Thursday interview. This comes a little more than three months after the Nathan Hale Pharmacy closed in late October, leaving East Haddam without a pharmacy, as independent pharmacies are closing in many parts of the state. The 2,000 square-foot store at 38 William F. Palmer Road will have “all the basic necessities,” said co-owner Greg McKenna, offering prescription medications with specialized packaging, free delivery, immunizations, shampoos, cards, small gifts, first-aid supplies,

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New First Selectman Underscores Outdoor Recreation for Business in East Haddam

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EAST HADDAM — In a Tuesday morning interview one week after taking office, First Selectman Robert Smith said the town should strengthen and maintain its wealth of hiking trails and emphasize outdoor recreation as an economic driver for the town. “We really need to look at emphasizing and reaching out to companies that would want to work with our recreation potential here,” Smith said. “We have 70 miles of hiking trails in town between the Nature Conservancy, the land trust, the town, and of course the six state parks. We have six state parks here, and the western boundary is

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Plans for Pharmacy in Moodus Announced, as Nathan Hale Pharmacy Closes

EAST HADDAM — On the same night that East Haddam’s only operating pharmacy closed its doors, owners from a group of regional independent pharmacies announced their intentions to fill that gap with a new Moodus pharmacy early next year — plus more ambitious long-term plans to expand it into a grocery store. Greg McKenna and Chris Olender of Nutmeg Pharmacy said at a Monday night public meeting in East Haddam’s middle school that they’ve already signed a three-year lease for 38 William F. Palmer Road in East Haddam’s Moodus village, with plans to open a pharmacy in February. The audience

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Palmer Warner House in East Haddam Opens As Trailblazing LGBT Site

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EAST HADDAM — Preserved letters, diaries, photographs, a house and its gardens tell the story of Frederic Palmer and Howard Metzger, two men who met fell in love in the 1940s and lived together as a couple as openly as society allowed. Considering the time period, what’s unique about Palmer (1901-1971)and Metzger (1921-2005), who lived in the historic Warner-Palmer House at 307 Town St., is the fact that their personal history is preserved at all, and intact at that. “The Palmer Warner House contains a complete record of [Palmer and Metzger’s] lives and that’s highly unusual in LGBT history for

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