99% of Old Lyme Loses Electricity — Tops in Connecticut — as Emergency Warning System Goes Silent

Within hours of Tropical Storm Isaias hitting the shoreline of Connecticut on Tuesday more than 99 percent of residents and businesses in Old Lyme had lost power. Two days later, 78 percent are still in the dark. Statewide, Old Lyme was the municipality with the highest percentage of outages and East Lyme had the highest number of customers without power. By 4 p.m. “we lost all our ability to communicate on Tuesday,” said Dave Roberge, the emergency director of Old Lyme, on Thursday morning. “We lost phone, internet, electronic communication and were unable to send out a reverse 911 until

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Old Lyme Moves Forward on Sewer Agreement, Haines Park Bathrooms

OLD LYME — After a long discussion held in executive session, the Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed to authorize First Selectman Timothy Griswold to sign a cost-sharing agreement between the Town of Old Lyme and three chartered beach associations for a sewer project.  “We will have our attorney keep us informed of the other parties that are needed to sign and once it’s all finalized, we can [place] it in the public domain,” Griswold said.  Town voters approved a $9.5 million sewer construction bond on August 13, 2019 for Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Town Area B. The project cost is expected

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Local Officials Eye Strict Height Restrictions for Buildings in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — Two new houses planned on Hartung Place in Old Colony Beach, located in a 100-year flood plain, have received approval for raised FEMA-compliant construction at heights of 28.3 feet. That height exceeds the town’s 24-foot maximum in the R-10 residential zone. The nonconformity required approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals, in a process that began in December 2019 and was finalized in January 2020.  On July 12, the Zoning Commission approved a special permit for demolition for the two existing houses on the property  Most communities along the Connecticut shoreline have zoning regulations that allow for

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As Halls Road Committee Pushes toward an Ambitious Master Plan, Griswold Counsels a Focus first on Sidewalks

OLD LYME — As the Halls Road Improvements Committee moves toward the creation of village overlay district master plan, questions continue about the timing of details like sidewalks as well as the best municipal model to use as a pattern for the project.  The committee is considering proposals from three firms for the creation of a master plan for a village overlay district for Halls Road, which is currently zoned for commercial use. By state legislation enacted in 1998, a village district would allow the Zoning Commission of the town to add special provisions to the base zone, including mixed-use

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Veteran Restaurateur Launches Hangry Goose in Old Lyme, Draws Old and New Regulars

OLD LYME — The Hangry Goose has only been open a few weeks, but most of the customers seated on the back patio as lunch wound down on Thursday afternoon had been there before. They stopped owner Teddy Kanaras to remind him of their previous visits and let him know how good the chicken and clam chowder was. “It’s from a Greek chef who won best chowder at the Big E,” Kanaras said. “That’s why it’s so good.” Teddy and his wife Genna opened the Hangry Goose in early June. The breakfast and lunch restaurant stands on the bank of

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Doughnuts for Sale Starting Saturday, July 4 to Support the Shoreline Community Center

OLD LYME — The Sound View Beach Association will be selling freshly made doughnuts beginning Saturday, July 4 at the Shoreline Community Center, 39 Hartford Avenue, Old Lyme, from 7 to 10 a.m. or until sold out. Doughnuts will be available Saturdays and Sundays and Labor Day, through Sept. 7.  Single doughnuts are $1.25 each, a dozen doughnuts are $12, coffee rolls are $1.50 and coffee is $1. Doughnut flavors include apple spice, Bavarian cream with sprinkles, Boston cream, double chocolate cake, blueberry, plain, cinnamon, chocolate frosted, french cruller, honey dip and jelly filled.  All sale profits go to support

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Land Trust Shutters Watch Rock Preserve on Weekends to Limit Vandalism, Littering

OLD LYME — Due to an excess of littering and vandalism, the Old Lyme Land Trust will close the Watch Rock Preserve each weekend from now until Labor Day. “We are so sad and frustrated to have to close this preserve, especially this year during the pandemic,” said Ann Gallaher, Chief Steward of the Old Lyme Land Trust. “But the large amount of trash, recurrent vandalism and campfires are too much for an all-volunteer organization to handle.” The parking lot gate will be shut from 7:30 p.m. on Fridays until 8 a.m. on Mondays. According to the Land Trust Board

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Sound View Residents Hire Attorney, Commission Assessment, to Claim Proposed Sewer Fees Exceed Legal Limit

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OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Sewer Coalition, LLC, has hired an attorney and an appraiser to challenge the town’s cost-benefit assessment to pay for the planned installation of sewers in Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Area B, arguing that the town’s formula violates Connecticut General Statutes §7-249 prohibiting assessments in excess of the benefits accrued to property owners. “The statute states expressly ‘[t]he sum of initial and subsequent assessments shall not exceed the special benefit accruing to the property’ and later repeats this limitation, ‘[n]o assessment shall be made against any property in excess of the special benefit to

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Town Reaches Compromise on Private Boat House Near Hains Park in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — A private group of rowers who purchased a property abutting Hains Park to store their shells reached a temporary agreement with the Parks and Recreation Commission on June 4 that will allow limited access to Rogers Lake.  On June 23, 2019, Blood Street Partners, LLC, a group of six rowers, purchased a two-bedroom, 1,350-square-foot house at 176 Boston Post Road for $152,000. The partners’ idea was to construct a two-story storage building for about 24 one- and two-person sculls while keeping the house in place on the .22-acre, commercially-zoned lot.  The partners wanted to portage their sculls,

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Old Lyme Rallies Against Racism and Police Brutality

OLD LYME — Hundreds of protesters carrying signs and chanting in support of black lives and and end to police brutality and systemic racism marched peacefully from Town Hall to the First Congregational Church on Saturday afternoon.  The Rev. Dr. Steven Jungkeit was the first speaker at the podium on the lawn of the church. “All of us feel a whole lot of different things right now — a sense of grief, a sense of mourning, a sense of outrage, a sense of pain and confusion and yes, maybe just maybe a tiny ray of hope that this will be an

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Hiking Trails on McCulloch Property in Old Lyme to Open Today

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OLD LYME — Hiking trails in the McCulloch Family Open Space will open on June 6, which is National Trails Day.  “The bullfrogs are out there. There’s a blue heron that flies over there head constantly and we put a beautiful bench in the meadow. It’s just a great place to hang out, said Amanda Blair, co-chair of the Open Space Commission, by phone Friday.  The McCulloch property has three trails. The Tree in the Gap trail and Yellow trail are accessed from Whippoorwill Road. Red trail begins on Flat Rock Hill Road.  “With these trails that connect to the

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As Lamont Announces New Rules For Graduations, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Opt for June 12 Ceremonies

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Governor Ned Lamont announced on Wednesday that his office will allow in-person graduation ceremonies beginning July 6. The state-authorized ceremonies are limited to outdoors venues and to no more than 150 people, according to Department of Education Commission Miguel Cardona. Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser has decided instead to move forward with plans that will allow graduating seniors to walk across the stage on Friday, June 12. “We have 127 in the graduating class, so that would be much like the NHL or NBA or MLB playing with no fans,” said Neviaser. “We plan to continue with the graduation

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Preliminary Agreement Reached on Cost Sharing with Old Lyme’s Chartered Beach Communities

OLD LYME — In a small but significant step, the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority is preparing to sign a preliminary agreement to join the cost-sharing agreement of the town’s three private beach associations for the construction, operation and maintenance of sewers.  If signed by all parties, the agreement — which is a preparatory document and not the cost-sharing agreement itself — will be the first formalized statement of a business partnership between the Town of Old Lyme and the three chartered beach communities after years of discussion about the construction of sewers along the shoreline, said Richard Prendergast,

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Inland Wetlands Approves Permit for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Turf Field

OLD LYME — The Inland Wetlands Commission approved an administrative permit for the proposed Lyme-Old Lyme Schools multi-purpose turf field on Tuesday evening in a 4-0 vote. The field would have a smaller footprint than the current grass field and, according to Megan Raymond, a professional wetland scientist for Milone & McBroom, will have no negative impacts on the existing wetlands bordering the Duck River. “There is a great deal of substructure to the field that encourages infiltration and minimizes runoff,” Raymond said. The proposed plan would add native wetland plants to the surrounding area and not require any fertilizers

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Meet Ron Turner, New Facilities Director for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

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Ron Turner joined the staff at Lyme-Old Lyme Schools as the new facilities director at the end of February, just before the schools closed for COVID-19. “The first couple weeks I was off to a great start, meeting the staff and students, and then the sky kind of fell with COVID hitting,” Turner said. “I’m really hoping to meet everyone in the fall, I can’t underscore that enough. Since the shutdown, I think that’s what so many of us are struck by the most. Buildings don’t become a school until staff, students and members of the community are here. I

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Sewers and Septic — a Problem with a History for Halls Road in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — As the Halls Road Improvements Committee moves ahead with drafting a master plan, wastewater infrastructure will play a key role in determining the density of any planned redevelopment. Over the last few years, the topic of wastewater treatment has been largely absent from the committee’s meetings and presentations to the public, but resurfaced recently during an April 16 Zoom meeting of the committee. “It’s sort of this chicken and egg thing that’s going on here all around because we kind of need to know how much density in terms of residential and retail and office space is

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Halls Road Committee Moves Forward on Master Plan, Housing Remains an Issue

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OLD LYME — Now in its fifth year — after local elections in 2019 that turned in part on questions of housing and development —  the Halls Road Improvements Committee is quickly moving to create a master plan to encourage redevelopment and new housing in the commercial district in Old Lyme. The committee will fund the plan with the roughly $48,000 remaining from an abandoned effort to implement Tax Increment Financing and to hire Yale Design Urban Workshop. Committee chair Edie Twining said at a May 14 meeting that the committee has informally asked three firms to bid on the

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$400 Million Connecticut River Railroad Bridge Replacement Takes a Step Forward, Design Details Announced

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A significant but relatively little known plan is underway to replace the aging railroad lift bridge that spans the Connecticut River between Old Lyme and Old Saybrook. The estimated $400 million project, proposed by Amtrak, would construct a new bascule bridge 52 feet south of the existing structure. The original bridge, which dates back to 1907, is an essential link on the Northeast Rail Corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. and would remain operational during construction. The existing structure will be largely removed once the new bridge is completed.  Though few town officials seemed to know about the plan, it resurfaced

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Clarify Reports of Cost Savings

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This Wednesday, Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education will vote on the first budget decrease in the district’s history. The $34.9 million proposed budget is 1.06 percent less than last year’s regional district budget. The current proposal is $180,000 less than the budget originally proposed in February. “The goal was to have a zero percent increase in payments for both towns,” said Ian Neviaser, superintendent of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. “Originally, even though Lyme was seeing a reduction in cost, Old Lyme was looking at a $180,000 increase.” The nearly $200,000 in total savings from the 2019-2020 budget come from a refinancing

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Proposed RTP Center Collaboration with the Town of Old Lyme Loses Out on Connecticut Port Authority Funding

OLD LYME — Plans for a new office for the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, which were described in a June 12, 2019 application to the Connecticut Port Authority as a close collaboration with the town, received a setback on Monday when the authority announced that the project had not been recommended for grant funding. The Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, part of the statewide Connecticut Audubon Society, had applied for a $1.833 million grant in “round two” of the Small Harbor Improvement Projects Program to build an educational center at 314 Ferry Road. The nonprofit purchased the property for

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$38.96 million Old Lyme Budget Proposal Goes to Monday Night Teleconferenced Hearing

OLD LYME — The Board of Finance will present a fiscal year 2020-21 budget proposal of $38.96 million — a 0.13 percent or $54,217 increase in expenditures over the current fiscal year — at a teleconferenced public hearing on Monday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. Board of Finance Chair Andy Russell credited “conservative spending” for the modest increase, but said that the town’s tax rate will increase more significantly than its expenses due to a drop in assessed value of taxable property on the town’s most recent grand list. The mill rate in the finance board’s 2020-21 proposal is 23.30,

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Canceled Public Comment Sparks Outcry at Sewer Meeting Teleconference in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — Local residents expressed significant consternation at the close of the Water Pollution Control Authority meeting on Tuesday night when chair Richard Prendergast announced that public comment had not been included on the agenda, a decision that he said would remain until COVID-19 mandates for social distancing had been lifted and meetings could be held in person once again.  “You notice that a lot of times we have public comment. We don’t have public comment on this agenda. We removed it. We are not required to [have it] and I’m not trying to stop people from commenting. I

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Old Lyme Selectmen Seek Clarity Before Responding to Governor’s Lodging Restrictions

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OLD LYME — First Selectman Timothy Griswold said that town government should do more research before acting on Gov. Ned Lamont’s April 2 executive order restricting hotels, short-term rentals, and other lodging for use by first responders, essential workers and special cases, for as long as the coronavirus public health emergency lasts. Griswold, speaking during a teleconferenced meeting of the Board of Selectmen Monday night, said that canceling most short-term and seasonal rentals would be “disastrous” for property owners who depend on that income, and he said that it wasn’t clear from the order who would have to enforce the

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Virtual School Budget Meetings Scheduled Across Lower Connecticut Valley in Wake of Coronavirus

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On March 10, as part of the state’s emergency response to COVID-19, Governor Ned Lamont signed Executive Order 7L, releasing regional boards of education from their statutory obligations to hold in-person meetings and referenda, prior to adopting fiscal year 2020-21 budgets: “[A]ny regional board of education shall adopt a budget for the July I, 2020 – June 30, 2021 fiscal year … without complying with any in-person budget adoption requirements, including but not to limited, annual district budget meetings requiring votes, referendum, and special district meetings.” The change follows a number of other restrictions on social gathering that have been

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Two weeks into State of Emergency, Old Lyme Leaders Focus on Helping the Vulnerable and Isolated

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Almost two week after the Board of Selectmen declared a local state of emergency, Old Lyme has yet to see a confirmed case of the coronavirus, but First Selectman Timothy Griswold said town staff, emergency personnel and volunteers need to move quickly to help residents who could be vulnerable amid state orders for people to social distance and businesses to close Griswold said he’s particularly concerned about town businesses that could struggle, residents who could lose their job or lose hours, and seniors potentially feeling isolated. “We’re obviously concerned about individuals who depend on their jobs to keep going,” Griswold

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Lyme-Old Lyme Relief Fund Established — Rick Stout and Tom Britt to Double Initial Donations

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The Lyme-Old Lyme Coronavirus Relief Fund was established yesterday by both towns and Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau in an effort to help those in need during this unprecedented state of emergency. “We’ve already helped homebound people with groceries, a family with diapers and one resident pay a portion of her rent,” said Mary Seidner, the director of Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau. “This is for residents of both communities and donations are coming in from both communities, it really is a unified effort.” The fund will be jointly managed by Seidner and the Social Services Coordinators in Lyme and Old Lyme.

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Old Lyme Declares State of Emergency Likely to Restrict Town Hall Access by Wednesday

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OLD LYME — The Board of Selectmen on Monday authorized First Selectman Timothy Griswold to declare a local state of emergency and said they plan soon to restrict most public access to Town Hall in response to the global coronavirus pandemic. “The idea is to restrict as much as possible public interaction because that’s how this thing spreads,” Griswold said at the meeting. “We want to keep the doors open for business, so to speak, but not just have the public coming in the way they have.” Old Lyme Director of Emergency Management David Roberge will meet with Griswold tomorrow

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As Southeast Connecticut Adopts “Social Distancing,” Local Businesses, Social Services, Step Up to Help Residents and Elderly

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As efforts to prevent the spread of Coronavirus get underway across southeast Connecticut, all Meals on Wheels programs are continuing for now, said Stephanie Gould, the director at the Lyme-Old Lyme Senior Center. Many pharmacies, such as CVS, are offering medication delivery for free to anyone who is concerned about going out in public. “And if their pharmacy won’t do it, we can help,” said Cathy Wilson, the director of the East Lyme Senior Center. “Our Meals on Wheels drivers are excellent and could pick up medications.” It isn’t just senior centers and pharmacies that are pitching in to help

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Shore Road Plans Raise Questions at Zoning Hearing

OLD LYME — The addition of a proposed maintenance shop raised questions from the Zoning Commission during a public hearing Monday night for a special application for the construction of four storage buildings at 224 Shore Road. Engineer Robert L. Doane Jr., who represented the applicant, Mar Holding LLC, which is owned by Frank Maratta of Old Lyme, told the commission his client wanted a “shop/office” on the 1.7-acre site where he could keep trucks and equipment used to maintain his other properties. “He has several properties in Old Lyme and he felt that he would like to have a

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