Private Road Nixes Open Space Deal in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — “It simply got down to the point where the restrictions on the road and the properties were obstacles that we could not overcome,” said Evan Griswold, co-chair of the Open Space Commission, on Tuesday, about the end of a deal to purchase two parcels of the Ames property for town open space.  Last year the commission signed a $400,000 contract with owner Steven Ames for two lots on Whippoorwill Road. The properties, totaling 35 acres, would have connected with the town’s 195-acre Ames Open Space and provided space for a parking area and access points to the

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Soft Opening on Saturday for Long River Local in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — On Friday afternoon, Chef Shelley DeProto had been working for 18 hours straight, getting ready for the soft opening of Long River Local, a retail food shop at 96 Halls Road located in the little yellow house that was a plant nursery a decade ago.  “We’ll be open from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday,” DeProto said, surveying the refrigerators she had been filling with grab-and-go foods. “We have the best chicken soup — what’s included is you can choose matzo balls, rice or egg noodles.” Coffee, baked goods, retail foods like cheeses and pasta, and prepared

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Old Lyme Property Owner Asks to Reconfigure Stalled Storage Unit Project

OLD LYME — Eighteen months after receiving approval to build four storage buildings at 224 Shore Road that included an office and maintenance shop, Mar Holdings, LLC has asked to change the size of the project to two larger buildings on a slightly smaller footprint, citing increased costs of materials due to the pandemic.  At the Zoning Commission public hearing on the project Monday night, neighbors raised concerns about the hours of operation, permitted uses, environmental damage, lighting and noise — echoing their concerns from the original permit approval on July 13, 2020.  Robert Doane, an engineer who represented Mar Holdings,

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Quick Decision on $40+ Million School Renovations Meets Caution from Lyme-Old Lyme Board

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LYME/OLD LYME — The Board of Education voted on Wednesday to exclude from consideration any district-wide construction projects that would involve moving fifth graders to the middle school.  The vote eliminated two of the six options that Rusty Malik, a principal at the architectural firm QA + M, presented to the Board of Education in November to upgrade four of the district’s five school buildings.  At the meeting, Board of Education members said that they had heard opposition from community members to the idea of having the fifth graders together with the older students.  “It’s a real big deal to

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Old Lyme Property, Once Slated for Affordable Housing, Sold to ‘Overseas’ Buyer

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OLD LYME — A 12.3 acre parcel at 16 Neck Road, which was the subject a contentious application in 2018 to build 37 units of affordable housing, has been sold to an unknown buyer for $1,050,000. The buyer is a newly-formed LLC, 16 Riverview Property Corp., according to town clerk records, with an address matching Westport-based Keystone Capital Corporation, whose president and CEO Frank Nocito told CT Examiner that he had bought the property on behalf of an “overseas” group. He did not provide further information.  “I had very little to do with it. I just happened to be the

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As East Lyme Changes Course on Sewers, Old Lyme Faces Further Delays

OLD LYME — The Town of East Lyme has asked the Town of Old Lyme for a separate intermunicipal agreement for the upcoming installation of sewers in Soundview and the neighboring chartered beaches in Old Lyme — a significant reversal from prior understandings that has left Old Lyme officials with a number of unanswered questions. In the original agreement Old Lyme was to join the town’s three chartered beach associations — Miami Beach, Old Colony Beach and Old Lyme Shores — in an intermunicipal agreement with East Lyme to pump up to 170,000 gallons of sewage per day through East

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After 26 Years, Owners of Christiansen Hardware to Retire, Business Carries On

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OLD LYME — After more than a quarter of a century, there will be new owners behind the counter at Christiansen Hardware and the store will have a new name as well. “The most important thing to us is handing this business over to somebody we think is going to take good care of it, so it will be in good hands. It wasn’t about whether or not we were going to sell it, it was who are we going to sell it to,” said Bill Christiansen, who has owned and operated the store with his wife, Nancy Christiansen, for

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VFW Events Honor Members’ Service and Local Support of Veterans

OLD LYME — Lyme-Old Lyme Post 1467 recently celebrated with two annual events that included recognition of local fundraising efforts for veterans and awards for members’ community service.  At the Dinner Dance, held on October 23 at the Christ the King Church, Post Commander David Griswold served as master of ceremonies. After introducing the candidates in the local election, Griswold thanked the town for its generosity and said the post had provided more than $20,000 during the pandemic in help for local veterans. Over the past eight years, the post has distributed more than $75,000 to help veterans in need

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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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Town Takes Responsibility, but no Action, on Flooding Fix For Old Lyme’s Private Beaches

OLD LYME — For years the Swan Brook outlet has clogged, causing flooding in the surrounding private communities of Miami Beach and Hawk’s Nest. The town installed the two 36-inch drainage pipes and the outlet in the 1940s and has maintained the drainage system over the years. According to Town Attorney Jack Collins, that means the town’s taxpayers are responsible for fixing the problem, which has grown significantly worse with the deterioration of an 80-year-old wooden crib holding the pipes. At a meeting of the Board of Selectmen on Monday afternoon, First Selectmen Tim Griswold sketched out possible solutions. “There

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A 3 – 2 – 1 Pie Pastry

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So you want to make a pie for Thanksgiving… Here’s an exceptionally easy recipe that reaches back to French pastry technique, using just a fraction more butter than a typical American pie to achieve a more forgiving pastry and a classic tender-flaky result. The recipe itself is a simple proportion: 3 parts flour, 2 parts cold butter, 1 part cold water (by weight). And the idea is to sidestep a few basic problems of pastry that begin when you add water to flour by first ‘waterproofing’ the dough with a little bit of extra butter. A basic two crust 9-inch

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Halls Road Committee Meets to Debate Next Steps, Erred on Zoning Role

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OLD LYME —  The Halls Road Improvements Committee regrouped on Thursday night for the first time since its draft zoning changes to the town’s central business district were withdrawn hours before a Nov. 8 hearing. The proposed zoning changes have been the subject of contentious debate across social media and local newspapers, with advocates for and against the initial proposal alleging variously incompetence, conflict of interest, a lack of transparency, and partisan politics. From the start, Edie Twining, chair of the committee, tried to focus members on steps to advance the project, rather than on rehashing that contentious debate or

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Lyme-Old Lyme Parents Voice Concerns at Board of Education Meeting

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LYME-OLD LYME — Local parents voiced concerns on Wednesday evening about a $42 to $52 million facilities project that could potentially change the ways that grade levels are distributed across the different school buildings.   In a presentation to the Board of Education, Rusty Malik, a partner at the architectural firm QA + M, laid out six options for the community to consider. The options ranged from upgrades to HVAC and heating systems and accessibility upgrades to the building of a new school.  Malik said that the most basic of the options — an estimated cost of $42 million to the

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‘It’s Our Turn’ for a Senior Center Expansion, says Lyme-Old Lyme Chair

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OLD LYME — Point One Architects presented two conceptual design options for enlarging the Lymes’ Senior Center Building Committee on Wednesday that ranged in cost from $3.4 to $3.8 million. Architects Rick Staub and Greg Nucci, who are partners at Point One, said both design options include four key spaces: a large multipurpose room, which the building already has, a medium-sized multipurpose room, a small multipurpose room and an enclosed sunroom. Many of the rooms would be equipped with accordion doors for flexibility in the use of the spaces. “So you basically have four large rooms that can work in

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Recount: Nosal Wins Against Danenhower in a Very Close Race

OLD LYME — In a tense recount that lasted more than three hours Monday night, it was confirmed that Democrat Mary Jo Nosal won a seat on the Zoning Commission in the Nov. 2 election, beating Republican Sloan Danenhower by six votes.  The final count was 1,600 votes for Nosal and 1,594 votes for Danenhower.  Meghan Ruppenicker, moderator, oversaw the recount, which included 378 absentee ballots and 28 Election Day Registrations, known as EDRs.  Gene Clifford, who served as the tabulator tender, fed each individual ballot into a voting machine that had been hauled to the mezzanine room in town

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Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Ed Reviews Options for $40+ Million Renovations

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LYME/OLD LYME — A project to  upgrade four Lyme-Old Lyme school buildings is projected to cost taxpayers between $40 and $45 million, according to estimates provided the architectural firm QA + M on Wednesday night.  Earlier in June, the district approved a contract with the Farmington-based firm for $45,850 to evaluate the need for improvements to Mile Creek, Lyme School, Center school, as well as the district middle school.  On Wednesday, Rusty Malik, a principal at QA +M, presented the Board of Education with several options projected to cost between $41.8 and $44.5 million.  The district will need to bond

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As Halls Road Zoning Advocates Emphasize Flexibility, Legal Experts Say Otherwise

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OLD LYME — Advocates of a plan to rewrite the town’s zoning rules for Halls Road have dismissed concerns that the proposed architectural and design guidelines are legally-binding or more than advisory — but that’s not what the proposed text says, according to several prominent land use attorneys who agreed to speak on and off the record. “I think it’s absolutely plain as day that planning and zoning cannot approve a site plan or a special permit unless the design review committee approves the plans,” said one land use attorney, who asked to remain anonymous, after reviewing the proposed regulations. “No

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools to Host Forum Tonight on Strategic Planning

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LYME-OLD LYME — The school district will be hosting its first open community forum tonight to discuss a strategic plan outlining the district’s goals for its students and hear community members want from the schools going forward. Superintendent Ian Neviaser said the last time the district developed a strategic plan was seven years ago, and that the plan needed to be updated.  Neviaser said that after initial meetings with employees and representatives from the town, parent groups and the Board of Education, a few major focus areas appeared. He said that members of the group wanted the students to be

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Neighbors in Noyes Road Neighborhood Voice Concerns About New Development

OLD LYME — At a public hearing of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday night, about 10 residents of the Noyes Road neighborhood voiced opposition to allowing a variance for additional height for a proposed house, citing concerns of flooding, drainage, water quality and aesthetics.  “This lot has been historically under water. It was trees and held excessive amounts of water, it was a natural catch basin,” Clare Cain, a 7-year resident of 1 Noyes Road, told the Zoning Board of Appeals. She held up pictures showing water ponding on the property at 5 Noyes Road where property owner

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Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Candidates Take Questions in Public Forum

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OLD LYME — With less than two weeks until the municipal elections, competing slates of candidates for the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education answered questions on Wednesday evening about topics that ranged from vaccines and masks to a study of kindergarten to 8th-grade facilities and a three-year strategic plan for the schools. The Democratic slate includes incumbent Martha Shoemaker and newcomers Alexander Lowry, Jason Kemp and Marisa Calvi-Rogers. The slate endorsed by the Republicans includes Michael Presti and Christopher Staab as well as two unaffiliated candidates, Mona Cowell and Laura Dean-Frazier. The event was hosted jointly by the Lyme-Old Lyme

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Old Lyme Officials Evaluate New Bids, Search for Funding to Offset High Sewer Costs

OLD LYME — Town officials are evaluating a series of bids to install a pump house, force main and trunk pipes for new sewers in a handful of neighborhoods along the shoreline. At $14.1 million to $21.1 million, new bids range from about 20 percent lower to about 14 percent higher than the original bids of $17.5 and $18.5 million, which were deemed too high by the town and the three private beach associations sharing the cost of the infrastructure. By law, the town must accept the lowest qualifying bids, if the project moves forward, at a cost that would

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Residents Pack Old Lyme Town Hall to Debate a Racism Resolution

OLD LYME — In a packed town hall meeting on Monday afternoon, residents spoke passionately for and against a resolution declaring racism a public health crisis — to wild applause on both sides — while two state troopers, one Old Lyme policeman and the police dog “Tazz” stood guard in the foyer.  The resolution has only appeared on three meeting agendas — on Sept. 8, 2020, Sept. 22, 2020, and Oct. 5, 2020, — and was not on the agenda for Monday, but Selectman Mary Jo Nosal has asked the Board of Selectmen to consider a resolution at every meeting

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Packed Agenda, Late Night for Old Lyme Zoning Commission

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OLD LYME — The packed agenda of the Zoning Commission, which stretched beyond four hours Tuesday night, included an application for a convenience store for a gas station on Halls Road, the prohibition of marijuana establishments, an amendment to create the Halls Road Village District, and the installation of a bus shelter in Sound View on Shore Road. Continued from the Sept. 14 public hearing, the convenience store proposed for the gas station at 85 Halls Road drew a number of comments concerning hours of usage, traffic levels, and appropriateness for the town.  The project, proposed by CPD Energy Corp. of

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Lyme-Old Lyme to Consider Cost of Renovating Schools to ‘As New’

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LYME-OLD LYME — On Thursday night, the architecture firm QA + M presented the initial findings of its study of the Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools. In June, the district approved a contract with the Farmington-based firm for $45,850 to evaluate the need for improvements to Mile Creek, Lyme School, Center school, as well as the district middle school. The study was paid for with federal funding.  At the meeting, Rusty Malik, a principal at QA +M and Angela Cahill, an architect for the firm, discussed the current conditions of the buildings and offered suggestions about how the district could address

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$400,000 Purchase of Open Space Heads Toward a Vote in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — The Open Space Commission has signed a contract for $400,000 to purchase a 35-acre lot on Whippoorwill Road adjacent to the town’s 195-acre Ames Open Space property. In a phone call with CT Examiner, Open Space Co-Chair Amanda Blair said that the commission had approached the owner of the property in December 2020 or the following January. “It’s a beautiful gravel road and we can put a small ‘hammerhead’ turnaround for buses and cars and that splits existing Ames into two,” said Blair. “You turn right to go to the Native American caves or shelters and turn

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Shoemaker and Lampos Make a Case for Selectmen of Old Lyme

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CT Examiner sat down with Old Lyme Democrats Martha Shoemaker, a candidate for First Selectman, and Jim Lampos, a candidate for Selectman, to discuss their campaign for the November election. Shoemaker is a longtime member of the Old Lyme Board of Education. A native of New London, she and her family moved to Old Lyme in 1996. She was a teacher for 35 years and now works for a small business in Old Lyme, FiberQ. Lampos is a member of the Community Connectivity Grant Committee, which has overseen the installation of sidewalks along the upper portion of Hartford Ave. and

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Griswold and Ward Make the Case for Old Lyme Selectmen

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As part of its ongoing coverage of races across the region, CT Examiner spoke with candidates for selectman endorsed by the local Republican and Democratic parties in Old Lyme. We begin with the Republican ticket. CT Examiner met with incumbent Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, a Republican, who is running for re-election with Matt Ward, who is unaffiliated and has been endorsed by the Republican Town Committee.  Griswold first held the office of First Selectman from 1997 to 2011 and successfully ran against Bonnie Reemsnyder as a petitioning candidate in 2019. Ward retired last year after 20 years as

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Convenience Store Plan Draws Opposition at Old Lyme Zoning Hearing

OLD LYME — CPD Properties has applied again for a special exception to allow a convenience store at the gas station at 85 Halls Road, but an attorney for an abutter says the application is untenable because it cannot comply with the town’s zoning regulations.  CPD, also known as CPD Energy Corp. of New Paltz, New York, has proposed the addition of 227 square feet of space to the existing 1,760 sq. building on the .6-acre parcel. The garage bays that were previously used for auto repair would be converted to a retail space. The project would also replace the

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Old Lyme Candidates for Board of Education Speak to the Issues

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As Lyme-Old Lyme’s Board of Education prepares for a sizable turnover in November, slates endorsed by the Democrats and Republicans took questions from CT Examiner about their spending priorities, about communicating with the public, the teaching of History and measures needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Four incumbent members of the Board — Richard Goulding (D), Stacey Leonardo (R), Jean Wilczynski (D) and chair Diane Linderman (D) — are not seeking re-election. The Old Lyme Democrats have endorsed incumbent Martha Shoemaker (D) and newcomers Alexander Lowry (D), Marisa Calvi-Rogers (D) and Jason Kemp (D). The Old Lyme Republicans have

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State Officials Debate Limits on Equity Licensing for Legal Marijuana

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When Connecticut legislators agreed this spring to legalize recreational marijuana, a number of lawmakers did so with the proviso that the change would also foster an equitable, diverse market, with meaningful benefits for people from communities disproportionately harmed by the criminalization of marijuana.  “There won’t be a cannabis bill in this state until we get equity right,” said State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, at a press conference before the passage of the law.   Translating those goals into policy is the work of a 15-member social equity council appointed by Gov. Ned Lamont and state lawmakers to iron out the

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