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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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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East Lyme Voters Narrowly Approve Additional Public Safety Building Funds

East Lyme voters narrowly approved a plan to bond an additional $985,000 to fund renovations of the former Honeywell office building to use as the police station and emergency services center.  Voters approved the bonding by a vote of 1,184 to 1,112 in a referendum held Thursday. Voters also approved using $1.2 million in delayed FEMA reimbursements from hurricanes Irene and Sandy to fill the funding gap for the public safety building by a vote of 1,254 to 1,058.  East Lyme voters previously approved $5 million in bonding for the project in February 2019.

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East Lyme Officials Debate Balance of Conservation and Development Before Wednesday Hearing

On Wednesday, the East Lyme Board of Selectman will host a public hearing to discuss the proposed plan of conservation and development first proposed in January. Since the prior plan was approved in 2009, several hundred units of multi-family housing have been added to town and many new businesses, including Costco Wholesale in the new Gateway Planned Development District.  “Our commercial zones are slowly being consumed by multi-family housing. If we continue on that same progression, what does that mean for East Lyme?” said Gary Goeschel, director of planning in East Lyme. “The community might be saying the growth is

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East Lyme Board of Selectmen Approve $985,000 in Bonding for Public Safety Building

EAST LYME — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to approve an additional $985,000 in bonding to fund renovations of the public safety building in their regular meeting Wednesday night. The additional funding would bring the total amount of money borrowed for the project to $5.98 million, with the remainder of the $7.2 million cost paid for by FEMA disaster relief funds for Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy received in August. The Board of Finance will decide whether to approve the additional bonding in a special meeting on Thursday night. If approved, the spending would then go to a

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East Lyme Police Report Rise in Reported Opioid-Related Overdoses

East Lyme has seen an unusually high number of overdoses in the last two months, East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein reported at a meeting of the town’s Police Commission on Thursday night.  Out of a total of 15 reported overdoses in East Lyme in 2020, seven occurred between July 1 and September 10, compared to three during the same period in 2019. Additionally, two of the three deaths attributed to overdoses this year occurred between July and September.  Finkelstein told CT Examiner that the majority of these overdoses were caused by heroin or fentanyl, a synthetic opioid similar to

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East Lyme Board of Finance Approves $1.2 Million Compromise for Public Safety Complex

EAST LYME — Citing other priorities the money could be used for, the East Lyme Board of Finance did not approve using the full $1.5 million in FEMA reimbursement from Hurricanes Irene and Sandy to help renovate the former Honeywell Office building into a police and public safety complex. Instead, the board approved appropriating $1.2 million of FEMA funds for the public safety building by a 5-1 vote Wednesday night. The vote came as a compromise as board members pared down the referral from the Board of Selectmen to use about $1.5 million in disaster recovery funds to fill part

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Formica and Cheeseman Announce Long-Delayed $1.73 Million FEMA Reimbursement for East Lyme

EAST LYME — Nearly eight years after Hurricane Sandy and nine years after Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on the Connecticut shoreline, East Lyme finally received a combined $1.73 million reimbursement check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Those two hurricanes encompassed a lot of my time in the town of East Lyme and my tenure as first selectman,” said State Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme. “I pushed FEMA very hard along with now-Representative Holly Cheeseman to qualify and now it’s finally paid off.” Nearly every other shoreline town – including Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, all the way down to

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East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency Delays Decision on Buffer Expansion to 500 Feet

EAST LYME — The East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency held off a decision on a proposed expansion to its review area after accepting several scientific articles and other exhibits into the record at a hearing on Monday night. The agency continued a public hearing on its proposal to extend its upland review area from 100 feet around inland wetlands and watercourses, to 500 feet. Two members of the public spoke in opposition to the change, but most of the new information Monday was brought by members of the agency. During a lengthy first hearing in July, where some critics questioned

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Nickerson Calls 3-3 Vote, Lack of Public Say on Funding for Public Safety Building, a ‘Travesty’

EAST LYME — First Selectman Mark Nickerson strongly criticized the Board of Finance for denying a request Monday night to bond additional funds to renovate the Honeywell building for use as a public safety facility — a decision that removes the question from going to a public referendum.  “It is a travesty that the citizens of East Lyme have been denied an opportunity to vote on a referendum of this plan,” Nickerson said in a press release on Wednesday. “Our town stepped up 16 months ago and overwhelmingly voted to buy the Honeywell building and finally move toward a permanent

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After Vandalism and Trespassing, Quarry Dock Road Entrance to Oswegatchie Hills Preserve Closed

The parking lot at the Quarry Dock Road entrance to Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve will be closed indefinitely because of issues with people trespassing on private property in the area. East Lyme First Selectman Mark Nickerson said the decision to close the town-owned lot was an agreement between the town, Friends of the Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve and property owners in the area. Nickerson said that there were issues at the lot and with people trespassing onto private property nearby. The Quarry Dock entrance is one of six trailheads where visitors can access the park, and one of two with

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Hearing Tonight on Expanding Wetland Review Area in East Lyme from 100 to 500 Feet

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EAST LYME — The East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency will host a public hearing tonight on a proposal to enlarge its the scope of review from 100 to 500 feet around inland wetland areas. The proposed change to East Lyme’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses regulations would expand the upland review area and mean that the commission would review any construction or changes to land within 500 feet of any inland wetland or watercourse to determine if it has a significant environmental impact. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. by Zoom. The commission could vote on the proposal Monday

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East Lyme School Board Votes for $826,900 Reduction to 2020-21 Budget Request

EAST LYME — The Board of Education Thursday voted Thursday night to reduce their 2020-21 budget request by about $826,903 amid concerns about the impacts of the coronavirus on the town’s finances. The cuts come three days after the Board of Selectmen voted to recommend the finance board make a $312,000 reduction to the selectmen’s budget. After the cut, East Lyme Board of Education is requesting that the Board of Finance approve a $50.87 million budget, a 3.30 percent increase over the school board’s 2019-20 budget. The $826,900 reduction consists mostly of reductions in requests for added staff — $304,650 for

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East Lyme Selectmen Recommend $312,000 in Reductions to 2020-21 Draft Budget

EAST LYME — In two separate back-to-back meetings by teleconference Monday night, the Board of Education and Board of Selectman refined plans for reducing 2020-21 fiscal year budget requests in response to the economic downturn and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus. Both boards had drafted budgets before Governor Ned Lamont declared a state of emergency across the state of Connecticut on March 10. Since then First Selectman Mark Nickerson and other local elected leaders have said that they would seek to reduce the burden on taxpayers of a budget originally recommended to the Board of Finance at $77.63 million. “This will

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East Lyme Leaders Consider Reducing 2020-21 Budget Proposals Amid Economic Uncertainty from Virus

EAST LYME — First Selectman Mark Nickerson and Superintendent Jeff Newton said at a Wednesday Board of Finance meeting that their boards would discuss potential reductions to the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budgets given the economic uncertainty brought by the coronavirus pandemic. “We know [a 4.98 percent budget increase] is not appropriate right now with what’s going on in this community,” Newton said during the teleconference meeting. “We are working really hard to make some reductions and we plan to bring that information forward soon.” In late February, the Board of Education voted to send the finance board a $51.7

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East Lyme Declares State of Emergency, Closes Town Hall to Public, in Face of Viral Pandemic

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EAST LYME — All town buildings are closed to the public until further notice effective Monday night, after the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to uphold First Selectman Mark Nickerson’s declaration of a local state of emergency in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. Nickerson told the selectmen at a Monday night emergency meeting that this declaration was about “being flexible and being prepared to change on the fly as appropriate.” Nickerson used his power to declare the emergency at 1 p.m. and the selectmen voted to uphold it at their 7 p.m. meeting. Town staff will continue to work,

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Nickerson Suggests Further Cuts, as East Lyme Sends Draft 4.6 Percent Budget Increase to Board of Finance

EAST LYME — The Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday to send a $77.63 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2020-21 to the Board of Finance, but First Selectman Mark Nickerson said the budget will need further cuts before it goes to voters for a referendum in May. That budget represents an increase of about 4.6 percent over the previous year. “Where the budget is today is not passable,” Nickerson said during the selectmen’s meeting with Superintendent Jeffrey Newton. Nickerson said that the budget, in its current form, could require a mill rate increase of roughly 1.5, which he said would

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East Lyme School Board Approves 4.98% Increase, Cites Years of Deferred Needs

EAST LYME — The Board of Education approved a fiscal year 2020-21 budget of $51,699,974 — a 4.98 percent increase over 2019-20 — after a Monday night public forum where residents aired their thoughts on class sizes, technology in classrooms, costs to taxpayers, and special education support. Board of Education members acknowledged that the increase was larger than in recent years, but said that this was a “catch-up” budget to address needs that had been put off in previous years. “We have to make up for everything that we’ve been cutting all these years,” said school board member Jaime Barr

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As Budget Deliberations Begin, Nickerson Emphasizes Public Safety and Redevelopment for East Lyme

EAST LYME — At a meeting on the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development late last month, two residents debated whether or not East Lyme could still be considered a “small town.”  Asked that same question in a Tuesday interview, First Selectman Mark Nickerson agreed that the town had changed significantly in the roughly 35 years that he’s lived here, but he added, “Is it a small town? It’s still got a lot of small town charm. You can walk up and down the boardwalk and walk into the grocery store and know everybody. Yes, we have lots of visitors,

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Board of Education Floats 5.57 Percent Increase in East Lyme School Budget

EAST LYME — The Board of Education is considering a budget of slightly less than $52 million, with changes to class sizes, added educational coaching for students, spending on technology, and to town taxes in the upcoming fiscal year. East Lyme residents will have an opportunity to comment on the superintendent of school’s 2020-21 budget recommendation at a 6 p.m. February 10 public forum at East Lyme High School. The Board of Education can still alter the budget before it is approved and sent to the Board of Selectmen, but in its current form, as presented by Superintendent Jeffrey Newton,

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Jurisdiction at Issue in Shellfish Farm Decision in East Lyme

EAST LYME — Jurisdiction was key to the decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals to uphold a cease and desist order against a local shellfish farm on Monday night. Timothy Londregan, founder and owner of Niantic Bay Shellfish Farm, located at Marker 7 Marina, 109-111 Main Street, said he would appeal the decision to Superior Court. He said the town’s Harbor Management Plan and zoning regulations did not have jurisdiction over his aquaculture operation. On Oct. 7, East Lyme Zoning Official William Mulholland filed a cease and desist order against Londregan, who operates Marker Seven Marina LLC located at

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East Lyme Residents Voice Concerns About Development and Environmental Protection

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EAST LYME — The many of the participants at a public forum on conservation and development voiced concerns that future business and residential development would negatively impact the quality of life in the town. About 45 people filled the room in Town Hall. “When I think of Niantic and Flanders Four Corners 10 years from now, I see massive traffic jams during the events that we all enjoy, and I see extremely congested driving on a daily basis,” said resident Ed Lilienthal. “It’s easy for anyone here to imagine this because we are beginning to see these conditions now.” Lilienthal

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Inland Wetland Commission Meets to Discuss 108-unit Housing Development in East Lyme

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EAST LYME — At its meeting on Monday night, members of the Inland Wetlands Commission questioned plans for a 108-unit affordable housing development on North Bride Brook Road that would in part extend into a 100-foot wetlands setback along the project’s western extent. At the meeting, attorney Harry Heller, of Uncasville, represented the developer, Jason Pazzaglia of Pazz & Construction, of East Lyme, who has proposed a housing development for the 20-acre site at 90 North Bride Brook Road under the state’s 8-30g statute for affordable housing. The development would consist of 11 buildings of eight units and two buildings

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Public Forum in East Lyme Solicits Advice for Updating Plan of Conservation and Development

EAST LYME — Town officials will hold a public forum on Wednesday, January 29, in Town Hall to offer a chance for East Lyme residents, and other stakeholders in the community, to weigh in on updating the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development, a document that provides a framework for economic development, growth, sustainability and conservation in the town. “The state requires us to update it, but in practice it’s a great thing to update every 10 years or so anyway. It’s about town services, and it’s also a road map for any given 10-year period of a town,” explained

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Niantic’s Peter Carlson on Life and Lighting Design

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LYME — For years, interior designer Peter Carlson searched for unembellished lighting that would complement his clients’ spaces. “I was always looking for lights, especially very simple lighting, not an ‘event,’ just something simple that did the job and looked attractive,” he said. “I had a hard time finding anything so I thought if I’m having this problem, then other people must be having it as well.” One of his odd jobs was driving socialite and cabaret performer Edie Bouvier Beale from Newark to the Reno Sweeney in Greenwich Village. He also worked at Studio 54, a job he said

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Developer Explains the Housing and Retail Market in East Lyme

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EAST LYME — “If you drew a big triangle down Route 2 to Groton, and back along I-95 almost to New Haven, there was nothing — no highly-amenitized, new-ish, multi-family communities. And, I think part of that is because the towns that make up most of that big triangle traditionally had not encouraged nor allowed multi-family development of any size,” said Newton Brainard, a Lyme resident, and vice president of Simon Konover Company, in a telephone interview with CT Examiner on January 15.  With 280 new apartments at The Sound at Gateway Commons fully-occupied, and an additional 120 “luxury” apartments

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In Draft Budget with 4.26 percent Increase, Superintendent Emphasizes Technology, Staffing

EAST LYME — Superintendent Jeffrey Newton proposed a $51.3 million operating budget for fiscal year 2020-21 to the Board of Education on Monday night, which would be a 4.26 percent increase over East Lyme Public Schools’ budget for 2019-20. Newton also proposed that the school board request $926,500 to be included in the town’s capital planning to purchase technology for the schools, explaining that an emphasis on technology is critical for preparing students for college and careers in a digital economy. “The story of this year’s budget is a lot around technology,” he told the school board, “and making sure

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Code Variance Brings $268,000 in Savings for East Lyme Public Safety Building Project

EAST LYME — The State Building Inspector granted a code variance for the planned public safety complex, allowing the town to forego about $268,000 of structural reinforcements usually required for police buildings, officials said at a Tuesday night meeting. “It was nice to receive that,” said Selectman Paul Dagle at the Tuesday night meeting of the Public Safety Building Vision Committee, which he chairs. East Lyme voters approved spending $5 million to purchase and renovate the former Honeywell office building at 277 West Main Street as a public safety complex that would host the town’s police, fire marshall, and other

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6th Annual Jingle Bell 5k Supports Healing After Loss to Suicide

EAST LYME — Nearly 700 people, decked out in Santa hats and holiday costumes, crowded into MacCook Point Park on Saturday morning. It was drizzling, but that didn’t seem to dampen the spirit as a line formed for pre-race photos in front of the Brian Dagle Foundation banner. It was the start of the sixth annual Niantic Jingle Bell 5k, nearly seven years since the foundation began and eight years after Brian Dagle died from suicide on November 12, 2011. “I lost my son Brian in 2011, and at the time there were very few resources for us as parents

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Finance Board Votes Alberti Chair, Discusses Water, Public Safety

EAST LYME — The Board of Finance, with three new members in its first meeting since the November elections, voted in a new chair, voted on a $5.59 million well filtration project, and discussed their involvement in deciding on renovations to convert the former Honeywell office building into a public safety complex. After being unanimously voted in as board chair, Camille Alberti emphasized her belief that the board’s role should be to ask direct questions and to provide a check on government spending “It’s really up to this board to do the due diligence for the tax payers and the

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