Developer Meets Unanimous Opposition at Contentious Middle Haddam Historic District Meeting

EAST HAMPTON — Despite warnings from the attorney for the developer, the Middle Haddam Historic District Commission will oppose a proposed zone change for a property located in the historic district at the April Planning and Zoning meeting. Developer William Wayne Rand, under the name Long Hill Estates, LLC, has proposed a zone change from R-2 to commercial for a new 1.5-acre lot that is currently part of 53 Long Hill Road, a 17.6-acre parcel that he purchased on Nov. 20, 2020. The proposed new lot is next to Sports on 66 at 265 West High St and is expected

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Killingworth Officials Announce Public Forums on Water Contamination

KILLINGWORTH — Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, were detected in three wells serving the age 55+ Beechwood Community, but only one of the wells exceeded state guidelines. Officials at Connecticut Water assured residents that the water, once treated, is safe to drink. Three wells registered levels of PFAS greater than 10 parts per trillion. Only one well exceeded the state guidelines of 70 ppt for the total accumulations of five specific PFAS chemicals in drinking water.  Connecticut Water stated in a release that because drinking water is treated, the guidelines “apply only to the treated water and not

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Saybrook Point Restaurant Clears First Hurdle, Meets Favorable Response

OLD SAYBROOK — Smoke on the Water, a 300-seat outdoor restaurant slated for the former waterfront site of Dock & Dine, received the first of three necessary regulatory approvals at Monday night’s meeting of the town’s Zoning Commission. The Zoning Commission unanimously approved a zoning text amendment that will allow an outdoor restaurant for a maximum of 180 calendar days in the SP-2 zone, known as Saybrook Point.  The amendment created a regulation that allows the applicant, Jon Kadama, owner of the Dock & Dine parcel at 145 College St., and chef Colt Taylor, to apply for a special exception —

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Selectmen Vote to Decline Offer of Korn Elementary

DURHAM — The Durham Board of Selectmen declined to take possession of the Korn School building from the Region 13 School District, citing concerns with the cost to renovate and operate the elementary school. Region 13 offered the former Frances E. Korn Elementary School to Durham at no cost, saying that if the town doesn’t take the building, the district would demolish it. The school board made the offer a year ago and set a deadline of March 31 for a decision. First Selectman Laura Francis attempted assemble enough information to bring the question to a referendum: Should the town take

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‘A lot more moving parts,’ Old Saybrook Official Says of Restaurant Approval

OLD SAYBROOK — A zoning text amendment change is one of three approvals needed for Smoke on the Water, an outdoor restaurant proposed for the former Dock and Dine site at 145 College St.  Christina Costa, zoning enforcement officer for the town, said the text amendment on the Zoning Commission agenda tonight must receive approval and an effective date must be set before the commission can consider the applicant’s request for a special exception for an outdoor restaurant.  “You can’t approve the special exception without the regulation being approved first,” said Costa. The applicant, Jon Kodama, owner of the Dock

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Miracle League in East Lyme Excited for First Season of Spring Sports

EAST LYME — Melanie Barber loves music, and she sings and dances all day long when she can, her mother Pam said. But after graduating high school, there weren’t many organized dance programs for Melanie to join. That changed two years ago, when the Miracle League of Southeastern Connecticut started Everybody Dance Now, an adaptive dance program made for people with disabilities. Melanie, 32 and living with Down syndrome, joined the classes at Studio 22 in East Lyme, where volunteer instructors paired up with participants with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities, and danced. “She loved the dance

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Essex Savings Bank Meets Opposition to Plans for Halls Road Service Plaza

OLD LYME — At its Thursday meeting, the Halls Road Improvements Committee addressed two officers of Essex Savings Bank concerning the committee’s opposition to a Big Y Express gas station and convenience store proposed for a property on Halls Road that is owned by the bank.  “One of our biggest concerns is putting in a gas station on this property goes in exactly the opposite direction of what we were trying to get to,” said committee Chair Edie Twining, who said it was unlikely that the property will ever be redeveloped for another use once the infrastructure for a gas

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Waterford the Latest Department to Equip Police Officers with Body Cameras

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In early April, Waterford will be the latest police department in Connecticut to equip officers with body cameras while on duty — a change that was mandated to take place no later than July 2022 by the Police Accountability bill passed by the legislature in special session last summer. “It’s going to protect the officers from allegations that are unfounded, and it’s going to protect the public from what they may perceive as officer misconduct,” Waterford Police Chief Brett Mahoney said.  Mahoney said that in-car cameras have already helped the department respond to complaints, and have allowed the public to

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Solar Project Moves Forward in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — More than a year after receiving preliminary approvals, the state siting council gave developers the go ahead to start installing solar panels on a 12-acre site of previously wooded land in Old Lyme.  Developers of the Cobb Road solar project on Short Hills Road in Old Lyme had already cleared about 12 acres of woodland of a 120-acre site once planned as an extension of The Oaks subdivision. The final hurdle, a site plan review, allows the developers to begin installing 7,566 panels. The owner of the project is affiliated with Essex-based Independence Solar. The land cleared

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Lamont in Middletown to Announce Statewide Rollout of Free Public WiFi Sites

MIDDLETOWN — City Hall and Russell Library will provide free, public WiFi networks as part of a statewide initiative to bring reliable internet access to underserved communities, Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday morning.  In a press conference in Middletown, Lamont said that these locations will be the first of 200 community sites across Connecticut, spread across 169 towns. A combination of state and federal dollars will fund the initiative, and the Middletown networks are expected to be up and running by the end of the week. State officials did not share a timeline for the statewide rollout.  “This is something

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Public Weighs in on Proposed 300-seat Outdoor Restaurant in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — The proposal for Smoke on the Water, a 300-seat outdoor restaurant slated for the site of the former Dock & Dine at 145 College St, has attracted significant public attention, both positive and negative, as the project works its way through the town’s approval process for zoning and planning. The plan calls for two large charcoal smokers centered around a fire pit and eight high-tech trailers — two equipped for food prep, one set up for alcohol service, one to house portable restrooms, and others to store supplies. The trailers would be on-site for 180 days or

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Connecticut College Hosts Four Actors Reading Four Short Stories

NEW LONDON — A four well-regarded actors will perform readings of four short stories by authors with roots in Germany, China, Nigeria and the Dominican Republic in a virtual performance hosted by Connecticut College next week. The actors include Kate Burton of Grey’s Anatomy, Laura Gómez of Orange Is the New Black, Russell G. Jones of Tommy, and Jennifer Lim of Jade Dragon. The program is organized in collaboration with Symphony Space, a New York-based performing arts group that curates “selected shorts” programs — short stories read live over public radio.  Rob Richter, the director of arts programming at Connecticut

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New London Keeps Positive, Draws Closer, Through Pandemic

NEW LONDON — Although restrictions are lifting and the vaccine rollout is underway, New London’s small business owners say their revenues remain far below what they saw before the pandemic began.  Rod Cornish, owner of Hot Rod Cafe on Bank Street, said he’s taken advantage of any opportunity to bring funding into the restaurant. He was able to obtain PPP grants, an SBA loan and a grant of about $1,300 from the City of New London.  “If I’m eligible, I will absolutely apply for anything,” he said. “We’re literally down 50 percent.”  Jake Johnson, owner of Jake’s Diner on State

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Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick Makes his Case for a 3rd Term

Incumbent Keith Hedrick is facing off against former State Rep. Aundré Bumgardner in the Democratic primary for Groton City Mayor on Monday, March 8. Hedrick served for decades in the U.S. Navy and is endorsed by the Groton Democratic Committee.  In a conversation with Connecticut Examiner, Hedrick shared why he hopes voters re-elect him as mayor, and what his goals are for a third term.  This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.  What are your thoughts heading into Monday’s election?  I’m frustrated, because I’m in a primary that didn’t need to happen. I just don’t think the primary

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A Quick Peek at Marker 37 in Chester

CHESTER — “Cooking the food and making it absolutely taste outstanding, I don’t stop there. It’s so gratifying to see a waitress drop the food off at a table and see the customer immediately smile even before they’ve eaten the food. That is what I want the experience to be, said David Saunders, chef of Marker 37, a restaurant under construction on Railroad Ave. at Chester Marina.  Saunders, who has been the chef of Saybrook Soup and Sandwich Co. since 2010, said his new venture, named for its location on the Connecticut RIver, will feature a “contemporary aquatic” menu with

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Aundre Bumgardner Makes His Case for Groton City Mayor

Former State Rep. Aundre Bumgardner is challenging incumbent Keith Hedrick in the Democratic primary for the Groton City mayorship on Monday, March 8. Bumgardner, who represented Groton and New London in the General Assembly from 2015 through 2017, was sworn in at the age of 20, making him the youngest state representative in Connecticut history. He has served on the Groton Town Council in 2018. Bumgardner was elected to the statehouse as a Republican, but left to join the Democratic party in the aftermath of the 2017 Charlottesville riot, when then-President Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides”

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Middletown Approves Purchase of 40 Acres from Bysiewicz Family for Open Space

MIDDLETOWN — The city’s efforts to preserve open space took a step forward on Monday as the Common Council approved buying 40 acres that could be used to expand walking trails at Smith Park and will preserve a patch of farmland nearly surrounded by houses. The council voted unanimously to allow the city to use $750,000 of bond funds voters approved in 2019 to buy 39.7 acres of land in the Westfield area. Half of the property is wooded and faces the wooded section of Smith park, while the half of the property facing East Street is open space that

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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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Stonington Prepares to Reopen Public Schools

STONINGTON — The Stonington Board of Education on Wednesday night asked Superintendent Van Riley to create a plan that would bring all grades back to in-person learning as soon as possible.  The plan comes in response to demands from parents that the schools reopen, despite teachers and paraeducators asking to remain in a hybrid model.  The key concern with returning in-person was the lack of space, which doesn’t allow students to maintain the six feet distance that the CDC recommends.  Yet according to a district-wide survey, about 60 percent of parents are asking for the district to return to in-person

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Clinton Reports Better than Expected Revenues, Smooth Transition for New Town Manager

CLINTON — It’s been a year since the town hired Karl Kilduff as town manager to oversee the municipal budget, and members of the town council say that they can already see the benefits of having a professional in charge of the town’s finances. “Having him in place has had a huge impact on the town,” said Chris Aniskovich, chair of the town council.  On Nov. 19, 2019, Clinton transitioned from a board of selectmen form of governance — with a first selectman as “town CEO”— to an appointed town manager overseen by a seven-member elected town council. Aniskovich said

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Florsheim Announces Sale of NRG Plant, Possible Energy Storage Plan

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MIDDLETOWN — A gas-fired power plant that drew controversy over plans to build a new turbine was among the fossil fuel plants NRG Energy is selling, Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim said Monday night. NRG announced Monday that it was selling 4.8 GW of fossil fuel generating assets to Generation Bridge, an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners, for $760 million. Florsheim said the company announced in a meeting on Monday morning these assets include the Middletown power plant, as well as plants in New York and California. The announcement comes just over two weeks after NRG failed to secure funding in

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From East Lyme to Cambridge and Back, Ostfeld Promotes Sustainable Farming

EAST LYME — After studying geothermal and hydro energy in Iceland, palm oil in Borneo and climate change and renewable energy in Scotland, Rosemary Ostfeld, who holds a PhD in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, decided that her next adventure would be to promote sustainable farming in her hometown. Three years ago, after returning to East Lyme, where she worked at White Gate Farm during her first summer out of college, Ostfeld launched Healthy PlanEat, a start-up connecting local farmers with consumers.  “The most powerful thing that you can do to actually have a positive impact on the

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New London Wins 10-Year Commitment For Northeast Offshore Deal on State Pier

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HARTFORD — State officials announced today the signing of a Host City Agreement between New London and a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource that includes a 10-year commitment paying the city an average of at least $1 million each year during offshore wind operations at State Pier. “Today’s agreement makes Connecticut’s role as a leader in the offshore wind industry official, with New London now poised to become the premier commercial east coast hub for this sector and our state set to become a leader in the transition to renewable energy and the fight against climate change,” Gov. Ned Lamont

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Cottage Road Housing Development in Madison to Break Ground in 2022

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MADISON — The 1808 home of Henry Josiah Meigs at 131 Cottage Road is slated to become part of Wellington at Madison, a 31-unit housing complex with 24 affordable and 7 market rate units situated on 2.6 acres.  The project is a collaboration between HOPE Partnership, a Connecticut nonprofit that develops affordable housing, and the Caleb Group, a nonprofit that has created affordable housing communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.  “The way it’s designed is smaller buildings that really actually do give you that community and village kind of feel to it. It isn’t a five-story building. It

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Neighboring Businesses Raise Sharp Questions About Proposed Gas Station on Halls Road

OLD LYME — Two longtime business owners on Halls Road are concerned about the potential consequences of a proposed Big Y Express gas station and convenience store slated for connecting properties at 99 Halls Road and 25 Neck Road. The application for the project is on the agenda of tonight’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission special meeting at 5:30 via Webex. The commission will decide whether or not the project will have significant impact on the wetlands and vernal pool on the properties. If the commission decides the project will have significant impact then a public hearing is required no

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Old Saybrook Reports Healthy Finances, Growing Grand List Heading into 2022

OLD SAYBROOK — The town’s Board of Selectmen approved a $47,187,717 budget for fiscal year 2022, an increase of $167,292, or .36% over last year.  First Selectman Carl Fortuna said the town’s stable financial situation allowed Old Saybrook to project a slight decrease in the mill rate — from its current 20.05 to between 20.00 and 20.04. Last year, the mill rate increased from 19.75 to 20.05. Fortuna said this year is the second time in four years that the town has been able to lower the mill rate.  Fortuna said that in spite of the coronavirus, the town saw

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Town Officials Debate Sidewalk Alternatives for Ferry Road

OLD LYME — At their Thursday meeting, members of the town’s Tree Commission considered an alternative plan for Ferry Road sidewalks that would save about 10 trees slated for removal by moving the sidewalk to the opposite side of the road.  First Selectman Tim Griswold, who attended the commission meeting, compared the south side of Ferry Road where a privet hedge, a vinyl fence and potentially two trees would need to be removed, to the north side of the street where 10 of 13 trees would need to be taken down to accommodate the sidewalk replacement project.  “If we relocated

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East Lyme Plans for Two Additional Officers and Long-Term Increases in Police Staffing

EAST LYME — The town’s Board of Selectmen voiced support for adding additional officers to the town’s young police department, which its chief says does not have enough staff to handle investigations and traffic enforcement. East Lyme Police Chief Michael Finkelstein said that his officers spend most of their time running between calls, meaning they don’t have time for follow up investigations or to patrol traffic, which accounts for most complaints to the department, he said. “It also becomes a safety issue, because if you’re going to a domestic violence incident, and now you have another call like a burglary

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Calling Ethics Commission ‘Totally Dysfunctional,’ Chair Proposes New Rules

OLD LYME — The new chair of the town’s Ethics Commission, Jane Cable, has requested increased funding to hire independent legal counsel to rewrite the ethics code for the town.  Cable, who was appointed to the commission and became chair on Dec. 2, 2020, asked the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday for an increase in the commission budget from $1,900 to $7,500 to cover legal costs.  “The Ethics Commission when I joined was totally dysfunctional because the code doesn’t give directions for a well-functioning Ethics Commission. It needs more than minor revisions,” said Cable. “It also needs oversight by the

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Sidewalk Project on Ferry Road in Old Lyme to Take Down Adjacent Trees

OLD LYME — Twelve trees along Ferry Road from Lyme St. to Rt. 156 have been tagged for potential removal — with some to be replaced — to accommodate the town’s construction of new, wider sidewalks. The root systems of a number of Norway Maples and Zelcovas, as well as other tree species, have caused portions of the sidewalk to buckle over time, which has created a safety hazard according to First Selectman Tim Griswold. At three feet in width, the sidewalk also does not meet the four-foot standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. On a site walk set

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