The Essex moves to Old Saybrook, as Colt Taylor Looks Ahead

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OLD SAYBROOK — Chef Colt Taylor received approval from the Zoning Commission on Monday to relocate his flagship restaurant, The Essex, to 247 Main St. in Old Saybrook, the site of a former bakery.  The Zoning Commission unanimously approved a special exception for a restaurant with 42 indoor seats in the building’s 1,500-square foot first-floor space, as well as up to 20 outdoor seats. The commission approved the conversion of the building’s second floor from office space to two 700-square-foot accessory apartments on March 15.  Taylor said he “fell in love” with moving the restaurant across from the Katharine Hepburn Cultural

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Essex Approves Horses on 4-Acre Properties in the Town’s Village District

ESSEX — The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted on Tuesday to allow horses on properties four acres or larger in the town’s village residential zone, paving the way for at least one couple to bring their horses to Ivoryton. The change in zoning would apply to six properties in town, including 2 Main Street, Ivoryton, where Deep River-based engineer Thomas Metcalf and his wife are interested in purchasing part of a 10-acre property to build a house and keep their two horses. Metcalf said he increased setbacks for stables in his proposed regulations to at least 75 feet from

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Unwanted Route 9 Development, a Concern for Essex Planning and Zoning

ESSEX — In the first public hearing on a proposal to give businesses additional flexibility to develop a variety of new projects around exit 3 on Route 9, members of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission raised concerns that the change in zoning could pave the way for development which they felt was wrong for the area. According to consulting planner John Guszkowski, the proposal includes a list of allowable uses that align with what is already allowed in the mix of existing zones that surround the exit, but aren’t necessarily allowed across the entire area. Guszkowski said that the

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Essex Puts Ferry Street Flood Plan to a Vote on Wednesday

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ESSEX – In an effort to lessen recurring flooding on Ferry Street, First Selectman Norm Needleman told CT Examiner that the town is asking residents at a special town meeting on Wednesday to approve an appropriation of $100,000 to raise the roadbed about a foot and install a sidewalk on the west side of the street. Needleman said that he believes the town can complete the project for that amount, and that he will be looking for possible matching grants to help pay for the work. The base of the street runs along the edge of the river and floods

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Dutch Designer Ingrid Bergman Awaits Green Light For Return to Essex

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ESSEX — 8 Main Street has stood empty for nearly two years. “I get a lot of questions about when we’re going to open. All is unknown, as we don’t have a clue when Biden is opening the doors again for travelers from out of Europe,” said Ingrid Bergman, a Dutch-born interior designer, who said she has planned since 2019 to open Eric Kuster Metropolitan Luxury by Ingrid Bergman Interiors at the Main Street location. Bergman, who is a resident of the U.S., holds a five-year E2 visa, known as an investor visa, that is set to expire in November

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Local Leaders Discuss Dramatic Declines in the Number of Young People in Connecticut

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According to the latest national census data, Chester, Deep River and Essex experienced dramatic declines in the number of residents under the age of 18 living in the towns — a drop that leaves local leaders with little to offer in the way of solutions. In Deep River, the loss of young residents since 2010 totals 25 percent — from 975 to 735. Chester experienced a drop of 29 percent. And in Essex, where there were 1,390 children living in the town in 2010, now there are just 949 — a drop of 32 percent. Deep River First Selectman Angus

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Essex Plans First Step Toward Flexibility, Discretion for Development

ESSEX — Town officials are proposing a change in zoning around exit 3 on Route 9 – an idea that could be replicated in other parts of town, including Essex Village, if approved. The change is meant to give developers more flexibility to develop a variety of new projects in the area. Essex Town Planner John Guszkowski said any developer interested in using the development zone would start by presenting a conceptual master plan to the Planning and Zoning Commission to convince it to change the zone to allow for their project. If the zone change was approved, they would

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Essex Officials Debate Zoning Amendment to Allow for Horses

ESSEX — A local engineer has his eye on buying a Main Street property in Ivoryton to keep two horses, and he’s asking the Essex Planning and Zoning Commission to decide whether horses belong in residential parts of town, or if they should be restricted to rural areas. Thomas Metcalf is asking the Essex Planning and Zoning Commission to amend the Village Residential zone to allow for properties with 2 or more acres to keep horses for personal use. Metcalf told the commission that, if the amendment was approved, he and his wife would buy about 3 acres of a

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Essex Takes its Cue of Old Saybrook and Starts a Diversion Program for Food Scraps

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ESSEX — The truckloads of trash from Essex to the regional incinerator in Hartford have been lighter over the past weeks, as residents have pulled about 1,800 pounds of compostable food scraps out of the waste stream. Waste has become a key issue for municipal leaders as MIRA, a major collector of trash in the region, tries to figure to transition away from its outmoded incinerator by next summer. Reducing waste — long a concern for environmentalists — could soon have a significant impact on town budgets as MIRA considers the costly alternative of trucking that waste out of state.

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Black Seal Reopens to Eager Customers After 2020 Fire

ESSEX — Closed for over a year to repair damage from a fire last January, the Black Seal restaurant on Main St. in Essex Village reopened to eager customers last weekend. “We had people out there at 11, 11:15, waiting to get in to their usual bar seat,” Black Seal owner Mauricio Salgar said. “People were waiting for take out everywhere.” Salgar said he didn’t publicize the soft opening last weekend because he didn’t want the restaurant to be overwhelmed after being closed for 13 months. But in a small town like Essex, word travels quickly. “One person finds out,

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Essex Debates Fines as 73 Percent of Wetlands Permits are Issued After the Fact

ESSEX – According to Fred Szufnarowski, chair of the town’s Inland Wetlands Commission, 73 percent of wetlands permits in Essex — eight of 11 permits issued by the town in 2020 — were given out after the fact. That’s an increase from 2019, when five of 14 applied late, and from 2016, when three of 19 applied after the fact. “We see the trends there – instead of people coming to the enforcement officer to prepare an application and apply for a permit before the work starts, they go out and do the work, and if they get caught, then

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Citing Changing Times, Available Land, Essex Selectmen Vote to Combine Planning and Zoning Commissions

ESSEX — The Board of Selectmen took a step towards combining the town’s planning and zoning commissions on Wednesday. First Selectman Norm Needleman said that with little available and sub-dividable land left in Essex, there isn’t enough planning work left to justify a two separate commissions. According to Needleman, about half of towns in Connecticut have combined their planning and zoning commissions The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 to approve sending the proposal to a town meeting, to be held in-person and by Zoom on Oct. 7. According to Needleman, the younger generations generally don’t have the same desire to

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Essex Zoning Officials Consider Professional Offices, Main Street Zoning and Wetlands Referrals

ESSEX — One proposed rule change the Essex Zoning Commission is considering would give more leeway to properties split between two Essex Village zones. The commission is considering five rule changes, and started public hearings on three of them at its Monday meeting on August 17, including a regulation to adjust the two main zones in Essex Village. The other two changes were referred to the Planning Commission for comment before opening a public hearing. Properties along Main Street in Essex Village are primarily zoned either as Essex Village or Village Residence. The Essex Village zone covers property immediately abutting

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Unleashed Dogs Spark Debate About Essex Land Trust Property

Essex locals are caught in a hot debate about dogs and leashes at Cross Lots Essex Land Trust Property. Because the land is privately owned, the town of Essex ordinance in regard to “leash laws” does not apply and some are fed up with what they are saying are “out of control dogs”. Roderick Seurattan, who is currently living adjacent to the Cross Lots property, posted on social media about his frustration with the trust property and how it is being used by locals. That post attracted over 100 comments and ignited a debate about what the policy should be

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Essex Selectmen Agree to a $5 Million Note in Anticipation of a Tax Shortfall

ESSEX — To prepare for a possible cash flow disruption, the Essex Board of Selectmen voted to recommend that the town apply for a $5 million tax anticipation note. “The possibility that we use it is remote and I know some people are concerned that this is just a way to borrow money, but it is really just a very conservative approach to managing cash flow,” said First Selectman Norm Needleman at Wednesday’s selectman meeting. “It is just to smooth out cash flow, it will not impact the budget.” Prior to applying for the tax anticipation notes, the Board of

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Essex Selectmen Propose $24.6 million Budget, Debate Financial Impact of Coronavirus

ESSEX — As they presented the Board of Selectmen’s $24.6 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2020-21 to the Board of Finance in a Thursday night teleconference, First Selectman Norm Needleman and Finance Director Kelly Sterner said that the town has not yet seen the financial impact of the coronavirus, but that Essex should take extra steps to prepare for potential losses of revenue. Board of Finance Chair Keith M. Crehan noted, in opening the remote meeting on Zoom, that Gov. Ned Lamont had suspended in-person public meeting requirements on March 14 in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus

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State Order Resolved, Essex Shutters Water Pollution Board, Shifts Authority to Selectmen

ESSEX — By a unanimous vote, the Board of Selectmen repealed the ordinance establishing the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority, transferring its responsibilities to the selectmen. The move is part of an effort by town elected officials to professionalize municipal services, and follows measures by the town that have satisfied a state order to address water pollution. Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman explained that waste water management issues in the future will appear as “WPCA business,” on the selectmen’s agenda, much as the board now conducts business as the traffic authority for the town. In 2011, the town hired Lisa

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Essex Loses Rural Grant Eligibility with Shift to Suburban Designation

ESSEX — At the start of the 2018-19 school year, Essex lost its annual Small Rural School Achievement (SRSA) program funding when the town was reclassified as a suburban community by the State Department of Education. The previous year, that funding totaled $34,432 – or about 3 percent of the district budget, the largest grant received by the school district. “The grant used to fund the Bridges program, which helped bring our math instruction to the next level, but thankfully has been fully implemented now,” said Kristina Martineau, assistant superintendent for Region 4, at the most recent Essex Board of

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Opinion: We Owe It To Public Health to Take Action on Vaping

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Late last month, I joined State Representative Jesse MacLachlan and prominent community leaders in Clinton for a panel discussion on vaping. I only wish we scheduled it sooner. In recent months, vaping and associated injuries and deaths have become a pressing issue. We must take it seriously and protect public health. As of November 1, more than three dozen vaping-related cases of lung disease and injury were reported to the state Department of Public Health, part of a national trend of more than 1,800 injuries and 37 deaths. Vaping experts are currently studying and searching for answers as to what’s

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Letter: Needleman Thanks Essex Volunteers and Voters

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We are honored that Essex voters have given me another opportunity to serve the town we all love. It is gratifying that so many of our fellow citizens exercised their right to choose the officials who will help sustain and improve the quality of life in Essex. Our names were on the ballot, but many other people helped make this election a success for us and for all of the candidates endorsed by the Essex Democratic Town Committee. To those who volunteered their time and resources, we am deeply grateful.  Your energy and commitment are essential to keeping our community

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Profiling Candidates for the Essex Board of Finance

ESSEX — Two incumbents and two first-time candidates are on the ballot for seats on the Essex Board of Finance this November. Democrats Campbell Hudson and Mary Louise Polo are both running for reelection against first-time Republican candidates Carolyn Field and Phil Beckman. Beckman has previously run for board of finance and selectman, but this is Field’s first run at public office. Hudson, an attorney and board member of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, is a long-time member of Essex town government. After serving one term on the Essex Board of Education, he was elected to the board of

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Essex Candidates for First Selectman Sound Off

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With a $900,000 surplus, and a mill rate that has fallen each of the last two years, Norm Needleman, the incumbent running for a fifth consecutive term as first selectman of Essex, says that Essex has never been better. Matt Fleming, his challenger, says that if elected his priority will be to keep costs under control. However, unlike Needleman, Fleming does not think the town has been doing a good job of that. “The mill rate went down, but assessments on houses went up, explain to me how that helps,” Fleming said. “He is passing things in Hartford right now

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Essex Second in the State on Improved Scores; New London Beats Average; High Needs Scores Jump

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On average, just 45 percent of third- through eighth-grade students met individual growth targets on the state’s Smarter Balanced standardized tests during the spring of 2019. In other words less than half of the students are making adequate strides in education this year, explained Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the chief performance officer for the State Department of Education. In Essex, however, the picture is very different. Although the district — which ranks 12th in the state in English Language Arts testing, and 26th in math — may not be the top performing school in the state or region, almost 90 percent of

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Essex and Westbrook Stand Pat as Southeast Connecticut Chooses Regionalized Health

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The Connecticut Department of Public Health has actively encouraged towns across the state to join regionalized health districts in an effort to simplify the enforcement state laws and regulations, to professionalize staff, improve the availability of services, and further a unified approach public health problems. The towns of Essex and Westbrook have bucked that trend, opting instead to maintain local independent services. “The health department is responsible for health outcomes, and the health outcomes in our state are in the top five in the country, but we do have pockets of very poor health outcomes in our cities,” Needleman said.

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Sapia Builders Plans Commerical Development in Essex

ESSEX — Sapia Builders Corp. of Old Lyme, has proposed building a 7,400 square foot office building at 130 Dennison Road in Essex. The design of the two-story structure is intended to resemble a barn.  “I’m an Essex local and I grew up on the road that the building would be on. The area has been undeveloped my whole life,” said Nick Sapia, owner of Sapia Builders. “It’s a residential road, but the property buts up against another commercial property, the railroad track, and Route 9.” The location is close by both Centerbrook Village and the Route 9 Gateway, but

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Life Among the Beavers in Southeast Connecticut

ESSEX — More than any average budget hearing, the meeting is so packed that it had to be moved to an auditorium. Residents as young as 10 came to speak their mind on the issue at hand… beavers. “I still remember that meeting of the conservation commission. It was the most contentious I have ever been to,” said Norm Needleman the first selectman of Essex, about a meeting five years ago following the flooding and destruction of a section of Viney Hill Brook Park near Quarry Pond in Essex. “Yes, we have a beaver problem, like every other town around

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Pilot Program Tests On-Demand Transit for Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Essex and Centerbrook

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Estuary Transit District’s Xtramile service pilot will continue to provide an on-demand, alternative transportation option for an additional three months to residents and visitors in Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Essex and Centerbrook with financial assistance from the Department of Transportation.    “We are geared around the first mile, last mile dilemma surrounding train stations,” said Joe Comerford, the executive director of Estuary Transit District. “Trains do a great job of getting people to the station, but what do they do after that, especially in unwalkable areas.” Estuary Transit provides an 8-passenger bus with wheelchair accessibility unavailable from ride-sharing services like Uber or

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Q&A on the Fourth Anniversary of iCRV

Last week, CT Examiner staff reporter Julia Werth sat down with Dave Williams to get a better idea of what iCRV is really all about and where he expects to go with the station in year five.

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