June 19, 2018

Op-Ed: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

By Diane Birdsall:

I attended the ZBA meeting the other night and it was the democratic process at its best and at its worst.  The issue was the cafe license or dba The Chocolate Shell ‘shop and cafe’.

I appreciate the enthusiasm Barbara Crowley has brought to her new bespoke chocolate shop. Warren Hannas, my landlord for the past four years, has made many improvements to the structure and has been a conscientious and fair landlord.

Now lets get down to SOLUTIONS to make our wonderful Lyme Street work for everyone.  Academy Lane is a small, short street and it is primarily a residential area with real people, who have their homes bordering a small complex deeded to do business.

We share front yards and backyards with residents who care and enjoy their private living space.

There has been a serious increase in parking congestion, including SUV’s backing up and squeezing in or hanging out of parking spaces along the side of Academy Lane.  People leave their cars running in winter for heat and their cars running in summer for air-conditioning while they run in.

There are Fed-Ex trucks and UPS trucks that now make two visits each day delivering boxes and ordered supplies to the businesses.  This has been a marked increase.  They too use Academy Lane as their unloading Zone and the size of the vehicle makes for one-way traffic only when they are unloading.  They are quick, but nevertheless, it happens twice a day for each carrier.

We now have two mammoth refuse trucks to unload our two dumpsters — another increase, one for recycled material and the other for refuse.  This is a nightmare maneuvering trick to witness.  The men that drive these vehicles are definitely talented about getting in and out of tight spaces … although it takes them a bit of backing up and going forward a couple of passes before they succeed sounds a-beeping the whole time.  One could do a SNL segment on this event every week.

Parking on the side of the building along Academy Lane is down right dangerous and does not work.

So let’s find a solution!

I believe there can be a decided improvement that would work for all parties.

The side of the building along Academy Lane could be a grassed in area with a curb that runs the length of the building. Possibly one handicap-only parking space could be allotted.  There is good width and plenty of street on Lyme St. to allow patrons to park and shop, I imagine they won’t leave there cars running here.  And commercial vehicles  can certainly use Lyme St. for unloading, as they do for other business that have storefronts on Lyme St.

Why not help everyone here on this issue and make doing business and living in town work for everyone.  I believe all parties are interested in accommodating the other if solutions could be found that benefit everyone.

It is a sensitive issue to have business open at 7 a.m. in what is essentially a residential neighborhood and here is an area that needs to be dealt with sensitively and carefully to make all parties satisfied.  This is an area that needs further consideration.  I guess that is another issue for future talks.

What does that mean good fences make good neighbors …it means we can have our private borders but they should be inviting and neighborly as well.  Business on Lyme Street must be neighborly it is only fair.

And as a little caveat to this opinion, I believe the town should help defray some of the costs by providing the curb [can be black-top], does not have to be granite and maybe a load or two of top soil!  Why not work together to make it a great place?

Good town planning and solutions is what makes for an inviting town for everyone.

March 20, 2014



  1. Bill folland says:

    While this approach is a reasonable solution this will not satisfy those close minded residents who can hide behind the existing regulations that , by law, prohibit the Chocolate Shell’s expanded business. The ZBA has little or no options here other than to comply with the regulations.

    The solution is to change the regulations that impose unreasonable activity to businesses like the Chocolate Shell. If our town officials are unwilling to make these changes residents of Old Lyme may partition to force changes in the regulations. You cannot cure the disease by treating the symptom you must treat the disease.

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