HRIC Chair Commits to Resolve Planning, Zoning Issues Prior to Meeting
OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) was planning to present its application to create a Halls Rd. Overlay District (HROD) to the Old Lyme (OL) Zoning Commission Monday evening, Nov. 14. The agenda included a presentation by the HRIC to support the application, which was being made officially by the Town of Old Lyme.
However, at 4:10 p.m. that day, Edie Twining, HRIC Chair sent an email saying, “Due to concerns from the new zoning enforcement officer (ZEO), Eric Knapp, HRIC has decided to postpone our presentation of the Halls Road Overlay District (HROD) until the next regular meeting of the Zoning Commission, December 12th 2022.”
She continued, “Unfortunately, we only learned this morning that the ZEO had concerns, and we think it is important to resolve these issues before proceeding.”
We caught up by phone with Twining Tuesday afternoon and asked her for more details on what had happened to cause postponement of the HRIC application. She explained that two things occurred on Monday, which ultimately caused her to delay submission of the proposal to Zoning.
The first was a number of questions that Old Lyme Zoning Enforcement Officer Eric Knapp raised that morning about the proposal and, in particular, the legal status of the Overlay District and the second was that she became aware the Planning Commission had given a ‘negative referral ‘ to the proposal at their Nov. 10 meeting.
Twining determined that rather than trying to rush and answer all the questions before the meeting that same evening, it was a preferential route to “Put the brakes on it [proceeding with the application at Zoning.] She added positively, “We’ll take the time to make it [the application] better and better.”
Twining said she would work with Knapp and the respective lawyers for Zoning and the HRIC to hopefully resolve Knapp’s questions before the December Zoning Commission meeting.
She also said she had contacted the chair of the Planning Commission Harold Thompson to discuss the issues that commission had raised.
The Minutes of the Planning Commission’s Nov. 10 meeting note, “The general sense was that, while the idea of this zone [HROD] had merit, many of the specifics were problematic and would not result in the desired outcome. As a result, the Commission discussed how best to relate its concerns to the Zoning Commission. The Commission members’ consensus was that giving a negative referral would obligate the Zoning Commission to see that these comments were addressed.”
The Minutes continue, “As drafted, it was unclear how the new overlay zone affected future development along Halls Road, and whether future developers would be obligated to use the HROD or could continue to use the C-30S requirements.
Related to this, it was unclear what the unifying architectural theme was supposed to be. Given that implementation of the new zoning requirements would be piecemeal, it would be difficult to create the consistency required by the draft regulation, and the combination of old and new uses would not be an improvement to the existing conditions.
Further, many of the obligations created by the new regulations would be cost-prohibitive or unfeasible, therefore the Commission urged the Zoning Commission to consider whether any of the “shalls” included in the draft regulation could be changed to “may” without altering the impact of the regulation.”
Twining noted that she hoped to work with the Planning Commission to resolve all their issues and consequently Thompson agreed to place the HRIC application back on the agenda for the commission’s Dec. 8 meeting. Twining said she has committed to attend that meeting, “and answer all their [the Commission’s] questions.”
Despite this most recent setback, Twining said she remains optimistic about the onward progress and ultimate success of the Halls Rd. project.
The HRIC welcomes comments on the project by email at: Hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov
For further information about the HRIC project, visit https://www.oldlyme-ct.gov/halls-road-improvements-committee