New London Residents, Businesses, Leaders, Gather to Discuss Economic Development

NEW LONDON — “What do you feel has been missing or needs improvement with respect to communications between the city and individual residents? How can city leaders better gain your trust?” “What specific problems or issues do you feel impact the quality of life of those living and working in New London?” Members of the Economic Development Commission directed these and other questions to about 60 residents, business owners and community leaders at a workshop Monday night that focused on ideas for supporting the city’s economy and identifying obstacles to growth. The two-hour workshop, held at the Science and Technology

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Old Lyme Affordable Housing Committee Holds First Meeting, Questions 10 Percent Goal

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OLD LYME — The newly-appointed Affordable Housing Exploratory Committee held its first meeting Monday night, with members sharing that they do not think that the town would necessarily be able to meet the statewide goal of 10 percent affordable housing, but that Old Lyme could do more for teachers, service workers, and longtime residents. The committee, appointed by the Board of Selectmen in January, was charged with researching the resources, regulations and issues of affordable housing as they relate to Old Lyme, and to recommend a housing strategy to the town. Committee member Thomas Ortoleva said early in the meeting

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Letter: Compare New and Old Plans Before Approving Wind Deal for State Pier

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I enjoyed reading Cate Hewitt’s Feb. 8 interview with Alexandra Halvordson, “Halvordson Weighs in on Addition of Offshore Wind to Region’s Submarine Supply Chain,” and appreciate CT Examiner’s continued coverage of State Pier and the Thames River.  Having known Ali since elementary school, I respect how smart and hardworking she is. I am writing to publicly challenge something she said: “You have offshore wind coming, you have two ports in Connecticut that are going to be maxed out with wind, that’s great, how is that not good stuff?” Maxing out State Pier with wind may be good stuff for the Naval and Maritime

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The Civil Rights Case for Equitable Housing

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The struggle for equitable housing is inseparable from — but not identical to — the decades long civil rights movement in the United States. No doubt that’s in part the reason that, “Separated by Design,” the recent multipart series on affordable housing by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas is couched in a vocabulary of civil rights. “Housing segregation,” as Thomas phrases the issue of affordable housing. And to be sure, there is ample evidence that the WWI-era introduction of zoning laws in the United States went hand in hand with racial segregation. Until a landmark 1917 decision by the United States Supreme

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Halvordson Weighs in on Addition of Offshore Wind to Region’s Submarine Supply Chain

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GROTON — Opportunities for Connecticut-based companies in the supply chain that services the undersea and maritime industries are increasing now that offshore wind has entered the market, according to Ali Halvordson executive director of the Naval and Maritime Consortium. “The offshore wind supply chain is very immature in this country. It’s growing and we want to attract it as much [and] as early as possible from Europe,” said Halvordson in her office at UConn Avery Point on Feb. 4. The consortium, formed in 2017, was originally known as the Connecticut Undersea Supply Chain Consortium and focused on the submarine industry,

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East Haddam Seeks Village Revitalization with Development of Former Goodspeed House and Town Offices

EAST HADDAM — Town officials expect to hear in mid-March a proposal to redevelop a 2.75-acre property containing the former town office building and the one-time residence of William Goodspeed, as part of an effort to revitalize the area around Goodspeed Opera House. “The village is bigger than this particular piece of property, but we’re hoping that this will help make a vibrant village,” said William Gerrish, chair of the East Haddam Village Revitalization Committee. “One that brings economic development to the town where there’s pedestrian access and it’s a part of something the entire community can enjoy. I think

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Apartments, Commercial Property Values, Jump in Latest Grand Lists — 2.36 Overall Drop in Old Lyme

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The total value of taxable property in Old Lyme decreased by 2.36 percent, or about $37 million — from $1,585,659,738 to $1,548,200,464 — following the once-every-five-year town-wide revaluation. The 2019 grand lists of four other towns in the area — East Lyme, Essex, Lyme, and Old Saybrook — each showed small year-over-year increases compared to 2018. The 2019 grand list — an inventory of assets in town subject to local taxes — will be used during the town budget process to calculate the mill rate for local taxes in fiscal year 2020-21. The value of a property in a town

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Debt Service, Retirements, Spur First Ever Decrease in Lyme-Old Lyme School Budget

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LYME-OLD LYME — For the first time ever, the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education approved a budget with a 0.05 percent decrease compared to the previous year. The total budget decreased by $18,651 to a total of $35.07 million. “No programs were reduced, no staff members were cut, no facilities projects were shortcut,” said Superintendent Ian Neviaser. “In large part, the decrease is due to a significant decrease in debt service.” Because Lyme-Old Lyme owns the lands and buildings it uses, unlike a municipal district, it also carries its own debt service, allowing the regional district to reduce the overall

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Connecticut Pushes to Fill Gaps in Summer Meal Assistance

In 2019, Connecticut was second in the nation with 72.7 percent of 656 locations across the state serving two meals daily, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program replacing lunch and breakfast programs when school is out of session. In total the program served $1.77 million worth of food to 37,816 children in Connecticut. “I want to highlight this achievement as we have been making a big push for it across the state in the past few years,” said John Frassinelli, the bureau chief of Health, Nutrition, Family Services and Adult Education for the State Department

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Board of Education Floats 5.57 Percent Increase in East Lyme School Budget

EAST LYME — The Board of Education is considering a budget of slightly less than $52 million, with changes to class sizes, added educational coaching for students, spending on technology, and to town taxes in the upcoming fiscal year. East Lyme residents will have an opportunity to comment on the superintendent of school’s 2020-21 budget recommendation at a 6 p.m. February 10 public forum at East Lyme High School. The Board of Education can still alter the budget before it is approved and sent to the Board of Selectmen, but in its current form, as presented by Superintendent Jeffrey Newton,

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Jurisdiction at Issue in Shellfish Farm Decision in East Lyme

EAST LYME — Jurisdiction was key to the decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals to uphold a cease and desist order against a local shellfish farm on Monday night. Timothy Londregan, founder and owner of Niantic Bay Shellfish Farm, located at Marker 7 Marina, 109-111 Main Street, said he would appeal the decision to Superior Court. He said the town’s Harbor Management Plan and zoning regulations did not have jurisdiction over his aquaculture operation. On Oct. 7, East Lyme Zoning Official William Mulholland filed a cease and desist order against Londregan, who operates Marker Seven Marina LLC located at

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State Rep. Holly Cheeseman to Advocate on Domestic Violence, Oppose Tolls and Recreational Marijuana

Holly Cheeseman was part of a wave of Republican state legislators elected in 2016 to the largest minority the party has had in the House in decades. But since starting her second term, Democratic gains have made it harder for her party to take part in the conversation up in Hartford, the East Lyme Republican said in a Thursday afternoon interview in the offices of CT Examiner. “This time there’s such a greater majority that in some ways it’s very frustrating in that it’s hard to have our voices heard,” said Cheeseman, whose district covers East Lyme and Salem. “On

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Area Schools Show Jump in English Language Learner Enrollment

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Between 2015 and 2019 the number of English Language Learners in Westbrook Schools increased from 5.9 to 11.9 percent of the student body. As of October, that’s 89 students spread across grades kindergarten through 12 entering school without fluency in English. “We expected this population to rise, but it appears to have happened sooner than we thought,” said Patricia Ciccone, superintendent of schools in Westbrook. Although Westbrook has seen the greatest increase of English Language Learners by percent in the region, a broader trend is evident. Old Saybrook’s population of English Language Learners increased from 2.6 to 4.8 percent and

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Women Shop Owners Buy Property on Main Street, Deep River

DEEP RIVER — “We love the town and I feel so fortunate that I can make a living doing this and being part of the fabric of my community, so when the opportunity presented itself to purchase the building, we were thrilled,” said Sage Novak, leaning against the wood and glass counter in her women’s clothing shop, Compass Rose, in downtown Deep River on Friday morning. Novak opened a shop in Chester in 2015, but when the building at 4 River Street became available, she and her husband, Dan Kollmer, jumped at the opportunity to lease a space nearby to

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Business Leaders, Massachusetts and State Regulators, Discuss Legalization of Marijuana

NORWICH — Top state regulators with oversight over marijuana in Connecticut and Massachusetts discussed the challenges of regulating a substance that remains illegal at the federal level, at a Thursday morning meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. Michelle Seagull, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Consumer Protection, underscored in her talk that since the Connecticut General Assembly passed legislation to allow medical marijuana in 2012, her agency has regulated the drug with the same vigor as any medicine. “We, from the very beginning, treated this product as medicine, as something that should be treated like a controlled substance

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Brownfields Survey in Old Saybrook Inches Forward Mariner’s Way Redevelopment

OLD SAYBROOK — In collaboration with the University of Connecticut’s Connecticut Brownfields Initiative, Old Saybrook will survey and determine which of 40 properties located on Route 1 East, from Saybrook Junction to Ferry Point Marina, are environmentally contaminated. “We have some suspicions, and there is a state list of potentially contaminated sites, but we don’t know for sure, because the research hasn’t been done,” said Susie Beckman, the economic development director for Old Saybrook. “We want the research done so we have a concrete list and know how to market them.” The survey is funded entirely by the Brownfields Initiative,

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East Lyme Residents Voice Concerns About Development and Environmental Protection

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EAST LYME — The many of the participants at a public forum on conservation and development voiced concerns that future business and residential development would negatively impact the quality of life in the town. About 45 people filled the room in Town Hall. “When I think of Niantic and Flanders Four Corners 10 years from now, I see massive traffic jams during the events that we all enjoy, and I see extremely congested driving on a daily basis,” said resident Ed Lilienthal. “It’s easy for anyone here to imagine this because we are beginning to see these conditions now.” Lilienthal

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Depleted Insurance Fund Spurs $2.1 Million Increase in Region 4 School Budget

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ESSEX/DEEP RIVER/CHESTER — The amount allocated by Region 4 member towns to a health insurance fund for employees will likely increase by 18 percent, or $2.1 million, in the 2020-21 school budget. The increase comes after several years when the regional school district depleted the reserve due to a combination of increased medical expenses and a decrease in funding allocated to the account. Across all four school districts in the region and the Supervision Committee, the proposed increase to the budget item will grow from $6.5 million to $8.6 million. “Right now, given the claim history we need to build

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Zoning Change Allowing Redevelopment of Older Resort Properties Raises Opposition in East Haddam

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EAST HADDAM — A large number of vocal town residents attended the Planning and Zoning Commission’s public hearing Tuesday on a proposed special exception to change the town’s density rules and allow a developer to convert an empty 28,000-square-foot banquet hall into an estimated 20 or 22 residential spaces. The banquet hall, which was built in the 1930s, is part of Banner Country Club Estates on Banner Road, and would qualify as adaptive reuse under the proposed amendment, according to Gary Hendren, an architect from Boston who represented the applicants, property owners Anthony and Frank Longhitano, of New Rochelle, New

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Deny Claim for Overtime Compensation for Custodial and Maintenance Employees

LYME-OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education denied the grievances presented by union representatives claiming 25 hours of unpaid overtime to custodial and maintenance staff. The two grievances were brought by the employees representing a group of nine custodial and maintenance workers. The union — led by custodian Phil Fazzino — argued that any time non-certified staff are called in for, or informed about, overtime work after the end of their previously-scheduled shift, they should be paid a minimum of three hours. The contract between the union and the administration states: “When a full time non-certified employee is

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Jahncke: Tolling Revenues Won’t Add Up

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There’s a new game in Connecticut. It’s called dodge-a-gantry. Right now, it is only a virtual game being played on Google Maps. Governor Lamont latest toll plan – he’s had many – is to toll only tractor-trailer trucks at just 12 highway bridges in the state. So what are truckers doing? They are getting ready to game Lamont’s proposed system. They are researching the best toll evasion routes, i.e. the best local roads to use to bypass the intended highway gantry locations. The governor and his advisors have failed to take into account a unique and fundamental obstacle to imposing

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Budget Hike for Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Lowest Ever at .39 Percent

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The proposed 2020-21 budget for Lyme-Old Lyme schools calls for an increase of just 0.39 percent, or less than $140,000, the lowest budget increase in the history of the district. “It’s the lowest budget increase on record,” said Superintendent Ian Neviaser. “We are still discussing and are still making a few revisions, so it might go down even more.” Compared to neighboring school districts, the modest increase is all the more striking — the draft budget for East Lyme schools includes an increase of 4.26 percent, Old Saybrook of 0.98 percent and Guilford of 2.14 percent. According to Neviaser, the

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Experts Debate State Approach to School Safety

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“Initiating emergency lockdown,” an electronic voice announced from a speaker on the desk phone. A small red button on any phone in all four of the Lyme-Old Lyme school buildings can activate a “critical incident response,” a school safety procedure drilled twice each month.  “The state requires you to do at least one drill each month, at least eight fire drills and two lockdown drills,” explained School Superintendent Ian Neviaser. “We do two per month — sometimes lockdowns, fire drills, critical incident drills.”   That’s 20 drills each school year, in addition to class time devoted to safety training. As of

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Inland Wetland Commission Meets to Discuss 108-unit Housing Development in East Lyme

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EAST LYME — At its meeting on Monday night, members of the Inland Wetlands Commission questioned plans for a 108-unit affordable housing development on North Bride Brook Road that would in part extend into a 100-foot wetlands setback along the project’s western extent. At the meeting, attorney Harry Heller, of Uncasville, represented the developer, Jason Pazzaglia of Pazz & Construction, of East Lyme, who has proposed a housing development for the 20-acre site at 90 North Bride Brook Road under the state’s 8-30g statute for affordable housing. The development would consist of 11 buildings of eight units and two buildings

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Town Meeting OKs Ethics Amendment, $8,750 for Lyme Academy

OLD LYME — In a brief Annual Town Meeting on Monday night, local residents approved the Annual Town Report, an $8,750 grant to the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, and an amendment to the town’s Ethics Commission ordinance. All the items were approved by voice vote without dissent. About 50 people sat in Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School’s auditorium for the meeting, which lasted less than 40 minutes. Griswold explained that the ethics amendment was introduced because commission members had inadvertently failed to appoint members, allowing all but one member appointment to lapse. “The amendment here… the principal thing will be

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Nutmeg Pharmacy to Open in Moodus, February 10

EAST HADDAM — Nutmeg Pharmacy plans to hold a grand opening of its new Moodus village location on February 10 at 9 a.m., the pharmacy’s co-owner said in a Thursday interview. This comes a little more than three months after the Nathan Hale Pharmacy closed in late October, leaving East Haddam without a pharmacy, as independent pharmacies are closing in many parts of the state. The 2,000 square-foot store at 38 William F. Palmer Road will have “all the basic necessities,” said co-owner Greg McKenna, offering prescription medications with specialized packaging, free delivery, immunizations, shampoos, cards, small gifts, first-aid supplies,

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Paul Formica Talks Energy Opportunities, Tolling, Casinos in Legislative Session

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EAST LYME — It was raining but Sen. Paul Formica said he was happy it wasn’t snow. “The whole town shuts down, nobody comes out,” he said, scanning the parking lot from his perch at a high-top table at Flanders Fish Market & Restaurant, which Formica and his late wife, Donna, opened in 1983. It was a little after 11 a.m. on Friday and the waitstaff were beginning to take orders from lunch customers. Formica ordered an herbal tea and began to talk about the fishing industry, a passion of his both professionally and civically, as well as other topics

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State Sen. Norm Needleman Lays Out an Agenda for the Legislative Session

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In addition to his position as chair of the Energy & Technology committee, State Senator Norm Needleman will be returning for a second legislative session as vice chair of the Planning & Development committee. “I look forward to starting work on the Planning & Development Committee, working to improve and streamline processes to assist our state’s municipalities and support further development in Connecticut,” Needleman said. “I would like to thank Senator Looney for his appointment and am excited to continue my work in the upcoming legislative session.” Needleman said he wanted to join the Planning & Development committee because of

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Social Service Days in Old Saybrook Offer Local Opportunities for Area Families in Need

OLD SAYBROOK — The line for food stretched nearly the length of the parking lot. Young families, single adults and the elderly, holding cloth shopping bags, waiting outside of Grace Church on a chilly Thursday afternoon in Old Saybrook.  Inside, American Job Center and the U.S. Census Bureau had set up for recruiting, tables were filled with second-hand clothes, and a town nurse was checking residents for high blood pressure. “When I got here the line was already down the stairs and around the corner, filling the sidewalk to get inside,” said Sue Consoli, the director of Social Services in

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Caution, Leverage, Deadline, Weigh on Delayed Vote for Easements in Old Lyme

OLD LYME — The decision to delay a town-wide vote on securing easements through Sound View came as surprise to local leaders of the three chartered beach communities hoping to break ground on sewer construction in the fall. “The bidding process is about a six-month process and we can’t go out to bid until we have these easements. We want to start construction in September or October of this year, so we need to go out to bid next month,” said Frank Noe, Water Pollution Control Authority chair of the Old Colony Beach Association, by phone Thursday.  The town’s decision

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