Madison Inland Wetlands Okays Apartment Complex Over Neighbors’ Objections

MADISON – Despite an intervention from neighbors who warned the project could pollute a pond on site, the town’s Inland Wetlands Agency approved a permit for an 18-unit apartment complex near Hammonasset State Park on Monday night. The agency – voting 3-0 in favor of the proposal for Cottage and Mill Apartments at 35 Cottage Rd., with two members abstaining on the grounds that they weren’t involved in earlier meetings that discussed the project – decided that the developer’s proposal for native plantings and a stormwater management system would likely improve the water quality of the pond. The developer –

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Madison Voters Approve School Renovations, Sale, and Community Center Project

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MADISON — Voters on Tuesday approved three projects that have long been under discussion in the town: an $89 million building and renovation project for the current schools, the conversion of the former Academy School building to a community center and the sale of the former Island Avenue School to Our Lady of Mercy Preparatory Academy.  The voters approved the school project and the community center with about 2,700 voting for the projects and 2,200 voting against. The Island Avenue sale was approved with about 3,600 voting yes and 1,350 voting against.  First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons said she was excited

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Madison Multifamily Housing Raises Concerns at Inland Wetland Hearing

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MADISON –  An environmental scientist hired by a neighboring condo association warned that a proposed 18-unit apartment building near Hammonasset State Park would likely pollute a pond on the property without enough trees to filter out nitrogen from septic tanks. The proposal for Cottage and Mill Apartments at 35 Cottage Rd. has drawn opposition from neighboring residents, who say the 7,800 square foot, 18-unit building would harm the wildlife in a pond on the site – which is home to frogs, salamanders, and neighbors say hosts migratory birds. The developers behind the proposal – 35 Cottage LLC, registered to Michael

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Developer Takes Madison to Court Over Pared-Down Affordable Housing Approval

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MADISON – The applicants behind an affordable housing proposal in Madison told CT Examiner they plan to appeal a Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision to reduce the size of the housing project as a condition of approval. The commission revised the proposal after it drew opposition from neighbors voicing concerns about traffic on the narrow street, and with the risk of six septic systems in such a small area.  The developers, 92 Scotland LLC, applied for the project under the state’s 8-30g affordable housing statute which  allows developers a workaround from typical zoning constraints like density and setbacks.  The commission

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Madison Parents Voice Concerns About Consistency, Effectiveness of COVID Measures in Schools

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MADISON — Parents at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday called for a Question-and-Answer forum to discuss the district’s COVID-19 policies — policies that parents complained were inconsistent across schools and ineffective, but that Board of Education members and school administration said were critical to keep students safely learning in person.  About nine parents brought up concerns at the meeting ranging from differences in policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated students, the use of plexiglass shields, and the need to continue wearing masks.  Several parents also said they were upset about the difference in policies, particularly around masking, between the

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First-Come, First-Served COVID Test Kits for Madison Residents

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MADISON – The town will be providing free COVID-19 testing kits on a first-come, first-served basis to residents who register online starting Monday morning.  First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons said in a Jan. 2 communication that the town of Madison received a shipment of 2,880 test kits on Saturday.  Beginning on Monday, Jan 3, at 9 a.m, Madison residents can go online and reserve a time slot to pick up their test kits. Pick up is on Tues, Jan 4 and Wed, Jan 5 between 12 and 7 p.m. at the Madison Surf Club. Residents are limited to two kits per

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Move to Reshape P&Z Sparks Resignations, Charges of Partisanship, in Madison

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MADISON – A move to replace two of the longest-serving members of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission has led two more members to resign in protest, raising concerns about the ability of the commission to make land-use decisions free of outside political influence.  The Board of Selectmen voted on Monday to replace three of the longest-serving members on the commission – Republicans Ron Clark and Joe Bunovsky, and Joel Miller, an unaffiliated member – with the three alternates of the commission – two Democrats, Ron Bodinson and Carol Snow, and Peter Roos, who is unaffiliated.  Miller had already decided

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Madison P&Z Offers Approval to Scotland Ave. Cluster Housing, with Conditions

MADISON – The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission reluctantly approved a proposal for a cluster of single family houses on Scotland Avenue – noting that state statute regarding affordable housing tied their hands on issues of traffic and septic – on the condition that the developers build five rather than six units on the half-acre lot. On Tuesday, in what was for several their last meeting as members of the commission, they weighed options for approving or rejecting the application for six, single-family homes clustered on the small property at 92 Scotland Ave, including two affordable units, which had drawn

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A Closer Look at School Enrollment in Madison and Lyme-Old Lyme

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When it comes to enrollment, parents and community members in Madison and Old Lyme are debating whether it’s better to see the schools as half empty or half full.  “It sounds like you’re projecting a really rosy picture based on birthrates,” Madison resident Rick Fearon told the superintendent and the Board of Education in a community forum on Nov. 9. While projections show that Madison’s student population will increase over the next eight years, Fearon pointed out that the number of children in the district has been on a steady decline. “One might argue irrespective of birth rates, a tax

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Six Single-Family Houses Planned for Rental in Madison

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MADISON — A local group of developers is proposing to build six single family houses, each 1,000-square-feet in size, on a little over a half acre of land under a state statute that allows affordable housing developers to bypass local zoning approvals. The proposal has raised considerable concern among neighboring residents. Nearly 50 Madison residents signed a letter urging the Planning and Zoning Commission to oppose the project over concerns with additional traffic and potential hazards of burying six septic systems on the .55-acre property. It’s the latest in a string of proposals for multifamily housing that have drawn neighborhood

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How Madison Turned Blue

This is the first in a series of reports by CT Examiner on towns across Connecticut changing partisan complexion — some red to blue and others blue to red. Madison, Connecticut was a Republican town. Two decades ago, there were nearly twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats, and while a plurality of voters were not affiliated with either party, the town consistently elected Republicans and had a classically conservative sensibility.  “The Democratic party wasn’t even formed in Madison until the early 1960s,” said Al Goldberg, a member of the Madison Board of Selectmen. “There was no opposition party. People

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Madison Selectmen Okay $89.5 Million in Borrowing, Debate Use of Undesignated Fund

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MADISON — The Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to recommend borrowing up to $89.5 million for a school renewal project and $15.9 million for the conversion of the former Academy School building to a community center.  The bonds would be paid off over 25 years. First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons estimated that the cost to the taxpayers would average of $181 per $100,000 of assessed property value per year — $28 for the Academy School bond and $153 for the bonds associated with the school renewal plan — taking into account expected reimbursement from the state.  The cost would be

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Madison Board of Education Okays $89 Million School Plan

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MADISON — The town’s Board of Education voted to approve a proposed $89 million school renewal plan on Tuesday after hearing residents’ concerns about tax increases, future enrollment numbers and increased traffic in the area.  During a Board of Education meeting that doubled as a public forum, current and former parents in the district, as well as community residents, listened in-person and on Zoom as Superintendent Craig Cooke presented an overview of the plan. The plan is expected to go to a referendum on February 15, 2022.  The project includes four parts: constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary

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Madison Releases a $61 Million Plan for a New Elementary School

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MADISON — A project to build a new elementary school for the local school district is expected to cost about $61 million, according to a recently published budget document. Chuck Warrington, the director of project management from the firm Colliers International, which the district contracted to oversee the project, explained the cost of the project at a Board of Education meeting last Tuesday.  In September, school officials released the first draft of a plan for the new Jeffrey Elementary School, which would have space for about 600 elementary school students, from kindergarten to fifth grade. The new building is part

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Door to Door with Madison First Selectman Peggy Lyons

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MADISON — Walking along Forest Hills Drive, a wooded and winding residential road just two miles from Hammonasset State Park, Madison First Selectman Peggy Lyons went door to door, making her case for reelection.  Lyons said it’s different campaigning as an incumbent. “People now have specific things that they want to ask the incumbent about, rather than just trying to learn who you are,” Lyons said. “Usually it’s positive things, but sometimes it’s not, and then it’s a good way to get a perspective on what problems are affecting voters, and get out of the bubble of just focusing on

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Bruce Wilson Goes Door to Door in Madison First Selectman Race

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Bruce Wilson, the Republican candidate for Madison First Selectman, said he has been knocking on doors since July, and is now ramped up his door knocking to seven days a week.  On a sunny, 75-degree Monday, Wilson walked up and down the streets off Neck Road, a neighborhood once mainly made up of summer homes and now populated year-round by families. With the beach just steps away, Wilson said that more families have chosen to tear down the smaller older cottages, combine lots and renovate family homes as the value of the land has increased. Stopping at one smaller lot,

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Candidates for Madison Board of Ed Weigh $85 Million School Plan

MADISON — All six Republican and Democratic candidates for the town’s Board of Education agree that the district’s school buildings need a major upgrade. The current Board of Education has outlined a four-part, $85 million school infrastructure plan, which includes constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary school, closing Jeffrey and Ryerson Elementary Schools and the Town Campus Learning Center, converting Brown Intermediate School into a kindergarten to fifth grade school and renovating Polson Middle School. That plan will be put to a vote at a February 2022 townwide referendum. In interviews with CT Examiner, the candidates voiced support

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Madison Releases Plans for New Elementary School

MADISON — School officials released the first draft of a plan for the new Jeffrey Elementary School building at a Board of Education meeting on Tuesday.  The plan is part of a $85 million building project that includes constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary school, closing Jeffrey and Ryerson Elementary Schools and the Town Campus Learning Center, converting Brown Intermediate School into a kindergarten to fifth grade school and renovating Polson Middle School. According to the document, the building will include space for 600 Pre-K through fifth grade students. Dan Hansen, an independent educational consultant and former assistant

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Madison Police to Appeal Release of Evidence from Barbara Beach Hamburg Murder

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The Madison Police Department is appealing a court ruling upholing an order by the state’s Freedom of Information Commission that the department release all records — except signed witness statements — related to the unsolved murder of Barbara Beach Hamburg. Her death in 2010 was the subject of an HBO true crime documentary series produced by her son Madison Hamburg.   In a meeting of the town’s Board of Police Commissioners on Thursday evening, Police Chief John Drumm said that if the courts ultimately ruled in favor of releasing the records, it could create a precedent that would affect police

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Madison Students Buck Statewide Trend, Show Gains in Learning Last Year

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New standardized test data for students enrolled at public schools in Madison buck widespread declines by school districts across the state, when compared to 2018-19 test scores. According to state data from the Smarter Balanced Assessment, 69 percent of students in grades 3 to 8 in Madison performed at grade level in English in the year 2018-19. Remarkably, that number rose to 73.2 percent for students learning fully in-person for 2019-20. The number of students learning at grade level in math rose as well, from 66.8 percent to 69.2 percent last year.  Craig Cooke, superintendent of schools in Madison, said

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$2.3 Million Offer Wins Endorsement of Madison Selectmen

MADISON — The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to recommend the sale of the former Island Avenue School to Our Lady of Mercy Preparatory Academy in a meeting Tuesday night. The academy, which has been leasing the building since 2019, offered the town $2.3 million for the purchase of the 9.3 acre property, with plans to use the property as the permanent home for the kindergarten through eighth-grade Catholic school.  The academy was one of three organizations making offers on the former school. The other two, Newport Realty Group and Beacon Communities, planned to develop the property into rental apartments. 

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Board of Finance Gives Preliminary Approvals for Tax Incentives, Debates Limits

MADISON — The Board of Finance gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to two developers who would become the first beneficiaries of the town’s Tax Incentive Program.  The program was developed in 2018 as a way to encourage new businesses to come to the town, according to First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons. Lyons said at the Board of Finance meeting that the Board of Selectman had received these applications before COVID, but had not been able to move forward because they could not hold a Town Meeting.  Developers who are approved will receive a temporary deferral on taxes accrued from the increase

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Madison Plans Referendum on Several Long-Term Projects

The Town of Madison is preparing to hold a referendum on several long-term projects, including the development of the former Academy School into a community center, the sale of the former Island Avenue School and a building project that will overhaul the schools in the local district.  First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons said that she wanted to move the projects forward as soon as possible. She said she wanted to get all of these issues on a single ballot.  “I think it would be the right thing to aspire to that. We need to make decisions and move on and allow

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Peggy Lyons Makes Her Case for a Second Term

Madison First Selectwoman Peggy Lyons is running for a second term in the town’s top elected office, facing challenger Republican Bruce Wilson, a Republican and member of the Board of Selectmen. Lyons was elected first selectwoman in 2019, upsetting Republican Tom Banisch by a few hundred votes. Lyons sat down with the Connecticut Examiner to discuss her goals for a second term.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What have you’ve learned from your time as First Selectwoman?  We have an incredible staff that is so dedicated to serving our community, and there is a huge support

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Bruce Wilson Makes His Case For Madison First Selectman

Madison Selectman Bruce Wilson is challenging Democratic incumbent Peggy Lyons for Madison First Selectman. Wilson, a Republican, seeks the town’s top elected job after years serving on the Madison Board of Selectmen and a previous stint on the Board of Education. Lyons was elected first selectwoman in 2019, upsetting Republican Tom Banisch by a few hundred votes. Wilson sat down with the Connecticut Examiner to discuss what inspired him to join the race.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What are some of the biggest issues facing Madison right now?  We don’t seem to get a lot

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A 6-3 Vote Gives The Ledges a Green Light in Madison

MADISON — In a 6-3 vote Thursday night, the Planning and Zoning Commission approved a special exception for the building application of The Ledges, a seven-unit residential complex at 856 Boston Post Road, within the the town’s zone of cluster housing.  The project has drawn controversy partly because blasting will be needed to clear space for septic systems and for a water main, especially because water service could be disrupted to neighboring properties  The complex is named for the Ledges, the 5600-square foot home built in 1903 on the site and calls for rehabbing the house into two condominium residences. Two

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Madison Debates Four-part $85 Million School Project

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MADISON — School Superintendent Craig Cooke presented plans for an $85 million building project for the school district that will go to the town in a referendum in late 2021 or early 2022.  The project includes four parts: constructing a new pre-kindergarten to fifth grade elementary school, closing Jeffrey and Ryerson Elementary Schools and the Town Campus Learning Center, converting Brown Intermediate School into a kindergarten to fifth grade school and renovating Polson Middle School. Completion of the project is aimed for 2025.  Cooke said in a presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday night that the disctrict expected

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Schools Across the Region Outline Varying Ideas for Spending Federal Dollars

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School districts across southeastern Connecticut are in the process of drawing up plans for how they intend to spend millions of dollars of federal funding that will be available over the next two years. The money comes in the form of two anticipated grants, known as ESSER II and the American Rescue Plan.  The proposals include a variety of projects, from outdoor classrooms to bilingual therapists, summer enrichment and chromebooks.  Here is a rundown, district by district:  Lyme-Old Lyme Ian Neviaser, superintendent at Lyme-Old Lyme schools, said the district won’t be using the combined $1.48 million in federal aid for

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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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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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