State Approves $11 Million for Small Towns Program

HARTFORD — For the first time since 2016, the state has reinstated a grant program that funds capital improvement projects in small towns and this year includes a special COVID-19 provision. On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont approved $11 million for the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP), which will benefit 94 Connecticut towns. In a release, Lamont said the special COVID-19 provision allows towns to use the funds to cover expenditures on capital projects related to the pandemic, including “new construction, expansion, renovation, or replacement of existing facilities.” “Our small towns have been hit hard by COVID-19 and are in

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Ambitious Plan for Middletown Redevelopment Goes to Voters in November

MIDDLETOWN — City officials are seeking a referendum in the November election to approve a $55 million bond that will go toward developing properties and improving public infrastructure in Middletown’s downtown and riverfront areas.  The bond includes $15 million for road paving and sidewalk maintenance, $20 million for public parking, $5 million for riverfront development, $12,212,717 for the redevelopment of City Hall and $1.5 million for the construction of a recreation center. The borrowing, which would be spent over 10 years, also includes $1 million to pay for the cost of bonding.  “The opportunity to put shovels in the ground

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Conn College Launches Website of Urban Renewal History in New London

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NEW LONDON — Connecticut College launched a visually rich new web site Tuesday that pulls together extensive research about urban renewal in New London from 1941 to 1975. “We applied [for a grant] with this project to study the history of urban renewal in New London because it hasn’t really been done before. This is really the first history written about it and it takes the form of this public history digital publication,” said Anna Vallye, assistant professor of Art History and Architectural Studies, who led the project that included three faculty, four staff and 43 students from 2019 to

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Presentation Tonight on Regional Plan for Lower Connecticut River Valley

ESSEX — The Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, commonly known as RiverCOG, one of nine regional planning organizations across the state, is beginning the process of creating the organization’s first Regional Plan of Conservation and Development. The council will provide an introductory presentation on the project Monday night at 7 p.m. via zoom and the meeting will be open to the public.  “What we’re looking for is to get the public’s input. On Monday night, we want to introduce them to the process of how this works… when I say the public, I mean the public at large,

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Town of Madison Approves Demolition of 1729 General William W. Harts House

MADISON — After standing nearly 300 years at a bend in the Boston Post Road that now roughly marks the place where rural sprawl draws together into the town of Madison, what locals call the “General’s Residence” is slated to be demolished and rebuilt as a “replica” containing two condominium units that will be part of a nine-unit cluster housing development.  An 8-1 vote on May 21 by the Town of Madison Planning and Zoning Commission to approve the demolition of the structure comes after years of deterioration, recent courtships from several developers, and expressions of regret by commission members

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East Haddam Planning and Zoning Agrees to Draft Denial of Zoning Amendment

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EAST HADDAM — The Planning and Zoning Commission agreed Tuesday night to ask the town’s attorney to write a draft denial of a zoning amendment application that would have allowed the owners of the Banner Country Club Estates banquet hall to convert that empty building into an estimated 20 residential units. “I just feel if we’re doing an ordinance change, it should benefit the town in general, and I don’t see this benefiting the town,” said commission member Edmund J. Gubbins, Jr., during the commission’s Tuesday night meeting. “I see this benefiting one developer and that’s all.” In the application,

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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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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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Towns to Complete Local and Regional Planning for Natural Disasters

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In 2000, Congress passed the Disaster Mitigation Act to break cycles of destruction and rebuilding caused by natural disasters, the law required local government to plan for possible damage and mitigation long before it actually happens. Hazard mitigation, senior project manager Scott Choquette of Dewberry Engineers told a gathering of Old Lyme commission heads and emergency services professionals at a Wednesday meeting in Town Hall, could include “any action that you take to reduce or mitigate the impacts of disasters over the long term.” That includes structural updates like elevating buildings near to the coastline, adding culverts, repairing bridges or

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Regional Planners Seek $850,000 to Map Muncipal Boundaries in Connecticut

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Officials from Connecticut’s Regional Councils of Government are seeking a state grant of $850,000 to create a statewide municipal boundary dataset that they say would help reduce costs for towns, inform emergency services, enable environmental and economic development studies, and open the door to more cost savings for maintaining mapping data. According Sam Gold, chair of the Connecticut Association of Councils of Government, the project is an effort to address discrepancies of as much as a quarter mile between digital maps used by neighboring towns to locate municipal boundaries “We’re in the 21st century, and we don’t know where the

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Charlestown’s Virginia Lee Offers Alternative on Shoreline Development

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CHARLESTOWN, RI — Open space. Dark skies. Limited development. Good schools. Low taxes. How has Charlestown, a small coastal town packed into the crowded Eastern seaboard, blazed its own decades-long path of holding to its environmental values while also staying financially stable and attracting families to live there? And is Charlestown’s model fiscally and environmentally sustainable?   “We’re the ‘model of yes to this.’ Yes to what the people who live here want: A rural, safe, kind community with good schools, dark skies. Safe to live in, quiet and private so that you can commute to all the hecticness but you

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Planning and Zoning Candidates Draw Sharp Lines in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — In the last several weeks, three candidates for the Planning Commission and three for the Zoning Commission individually discussed their reasons for running and their goals for the town during phone interviews with CT Examiner.  Out of the eight total candidates across the two commissions, two Democrats and four Republicans responded to CT Examiner’s request for phone interviews and answered questions about the future development of the town.  Planning Commission — Ross and Klose Democratic candidate and incumbent alternate Alexander Klose, is competing with incumbent board member Steven Ross, a Republican, for a seat on the Town

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City Officials Tweak Regulations, Streamline Planning to Encourage Growth

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NEW LONDON — “Our commission is a joint commission and I’m always cognizant if I’ve got my planning hat on or my zoning hat on,” said Barry Levine, chair of New London’s Planning and Zoning Commission, on Friday. “Zoning is ‘how does it fit with the rules?’ Planning is ‘what do you want the rules to be?’” he explained. “In New London, we want the taxes to go down and we want affordable housing and the only way to do that is to increase the grand list and create more development that brings more cash into the coffers — and

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Zoning Proposal to Double Setback Near Water Raises Questions and Opposition in Old Lyme

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OLD LYME — Multiple town commissions and members of the public are expected to raise objections to a proposed text amendment to Tidal Waters Protection regulation at Tuesday’s meeting of the Zoning Commission in Old Lyme. The amendment would double the current 50-foot setback to 100 feet along coastal and riverfront properties. “Most, if not all, of the wetlands and waterfront that the proposed amendment seeks to regulate is within the jurisdiction of the Harbor Management Commission,” read an email on Wednesday from Steven Ross to Jane Cable, chair of the Zoning Commission, questioning why the proposed amendment hadn’t been

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70 Years at Odds with Local Zoning in Southeast Connecticut

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Lorna Mitchell moved to Lynde Street in Old Saybrook 39 years ago. On the street was a hairdresser and on the far corner where Lynde meets Route 1 was TJ’s restaurant and bar. In every other sense it was a residential neighborhood. The same little houses, many of the same families. It was quiet. “There was and is nothing to make noise,” Mitchell said at a zoning commission meeting in August when the character of the street seemed on a tipping point toward change. “We are suddenly going to have all these people moving in being able to look out

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Economic Development Commission Launches Survey of Old Lyme Residents

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OLD LYME -- The Economic Development Commission has launched a survey to find out residents’ and business owners’ thoughts and ideas about development in Old Lyme. “This is an opportunity for the EDC -- we’re asking the public for their input and this is one of the strategies we’ve been talking about since I’ve been on the EDC,” said EDC Co-chair Justin Fuller at the commission’s meeting at Town Hall Wednesday afternoon. “It’s one thing to come in here and talk about what we think and what we hear from people and it’s another to try to engage the real

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Editorial: Is Zoning a Promise?

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To hear Stonington resident Laura Graham tell it, in Joe Wojtas’ coverage for The Day of a July 8 hearing of the Stonington Planning and Zoning Commission, “Zoning is a promise … When a family puts their life savings in a home they count on town officials to protect them.” It should surprise none of our readers that Connecticut was among the very first states to make that promise, when the Connecticut General Assembly passed a law in 1917 enabling towns to elect planning commissions. It was a promise later upheld by the Connecticut Supreme Court in Windsor v. Whitney

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Hotelier Mallory Details Mystic Seaport Hotel Plan

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MYSTIC — Mystic Seaport Museum announced plans Thursday to demolish its Latitude 41° Restaurant & Tavern and construct a 20-25 room hotel with a restaurant and event space on the property’s 1.36-acre parcel that fronts the Mystic River at 105 Greenmanville Ave. “It’s essentially replacing the building that’s there in terms of its size and scale. The current building is around 24,000 square feet and that’s essentially about the size of the new building, but instead of being on the road it will be closer to the water,” said Charles Mallory, founder and CEO of Greenwich Hospitality Group, which will

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Reiner Aims to Set the Table

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With thousands of hires expected at Electric Boat in the coming decade, Jon Reiner, Director of Planning and Development for the Town of Groton, describes his work as “setting the table” for investment in housing, business opportunities and redevelopment of older buildings and neighborhoods. Reiner, who was hired by the town in 2014, said his focus has been on finding out what Groton residents want and shaping the town’s future through marketing and zoning tools that attract the right kind of investment.

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