November 14, 2019

Old Lyme Historical Society Launches 2019 ‘Now and Then’ Calendar with Reception Tonight; All Welcome

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Historical Society (OLHS) will be celebrating the release of the new 2020 ‘Now & Then’ Old Lyme Community Calendar at a free public reception Thursday, Nov. 14, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the OLHS building at 55 Lyme Street, Old Lyme.  The calendar, along with other publications, will be for sale at the event. All are welcome to attend: light refreshments will be served, and a raffle will be held.

This is the seventh year that the OLHS has published this popular calendar that incorporates a different set of photographs from the organization’s archives juxtaposing the historical images with contemporary ones of the same scene.  The images included in the calendar are a small sampling of the many interesting archived photographs of Old Lyme establishments,  landscapes, and scenes dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century.

Each calendar month is generously sponsored by a different community organization and includes the dates of their events throughout the year.  The intent is to highlight and assist in marketing activities occurring in Old Lyme in 2019 as well as remembering the past.

The 2018 ‘Now & Then’ Old Lyme Community Calendar was designed by James Meehan and edited by Alison Mitchell.  Michaelle Pearson was the copy-editor.

The mission of the OLHS is to “collect, preserve, and interpret the rich history” of Old Lyme.  To find out more about the OLHS and its interesting activities, explore their website at www.oldlymehistoricalsociety.org or stop by its office at 55 Lyme St.

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Old Lyme Boys Advance to State Quarterfinals After Victory Over Hale-Ray

OLD LYME — Old Lyme defeated Hale Ray 3-1 yesterday in the second round of the Class S state tournament at Hale Ray High School.

Jesper Silberberg scored the first goal for the Wildcats unassisted andAngus Tresnan followed up with the second goal for Old Lyme with an assist from Jesper Silberberg. The third goal was a penalty-kick taken by Michael Milazzo.

Michael Quinn scored the lone goal for Hale Ray unassisted.

Ryan Tetreault was in goal for Old Lyme with eight saves while Ethan Marion defended the net for Hale Ray and made nine saves.

Old Lyme now advances to the quarterfinals against Immaculate Friday.

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Musical Masterworks ‘MMModern’ presents ‘Project Fusion–Saxophone Quartet’ in Old Lyme, Friday

Project Fusion will perform at Lyme Art Association, Nov. 15, in the opening concert of the 2019-20 MMModern series.

OLD LYME — This fall experience contemporary chamber music featuring Project Fusion–Saxophone Quartet, an ensemble that is dedicated to creating unique collaborations among musicians. “We are looking forward to welcoming these marvelous young musicians to our community. We know they will inspire our audience with their energy and skill.” said Alden Murphy, President of Musical Masterworks.

Join Musical Masterworks Nov. 15, at the Lyme Art Association to enjoy a concert by Project Fusion, who Splash magazine describes as a “joy to watch — sparkling as much as the instruments in their hands.”

Project Fusion Executive Director and Baritone Saxophonist Matt Evans comments, “We’re thrilled to be performing this program of American music in Old Lyme, including two world premieres and a piece inspired by the paintings of Matisse; very appropriate, considering Old Lyme is the home of innovative art as well as great music. We are also excited to be presenting numerous educational engagement programs in K-12 schools in Norwich and New London the week leading up to the performance.”

Admission is $35; student admission is $5.  Admission includes a reception prior to the concert at 5:30 p.m.; the concert begins at 6:30 p.m.  

After the performance, end your evening with a three-course Prix Fixe dinner for two with a bottle of wine for $100 at the Bee & Thistle, only available to MMModern concertgoers. Make your dinner reservation by calling the Bee & Thistle at 860.434.1667.

For more information and to purchase concert tickets, visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or call 860.434.2252. 

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Old Lyme Zoning Commission Continues Public Hearing on Controversial Tidal Setback Change Tonight

Zoning Commission Chairman Jane Cable. File photo from OL DTC website.

OLD LYME — Tonight, in an Old Lyme Zoning Commission meeting scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. in Old Lyme Town Hall, the Commission has an agenda item to continue the Public Hearing for a Petition to amend Section 4.3 Tidal Waters Protection of the Old Lyme Zoning Regulations.  The Commission itself is the Petitioner.

The proposed new text to Section 4.3 Tidal Waters Protection has aroused strong feelings and significant controversy for a number of reasons, primarily because it proposes, “no Building or other Structure, including drainage structures, septic systems, wells, and retaining walls, shall extend within less than 100 feet of the coastal jurisdiction line, as defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 22a-359, of any tidal Watercourse or its associated wetlands without obtaining a Special Permit from the Zoning Commission in accordance with the provisions of Section 13B.” 
The current limit is 50 ft.
Jane Cable, Zoning Commission Chair explained the need for the new wording to LymeLine.com in an email, saying, “Through a special permit requirement, the Z.C. regulates water-dependent uses in the areas adjacent to tidal water. These are commercial: marinas mainly. [Sidebar: when acting on a special permit application, the Z.C. can consider effects on neighboring properties, blocking of air and light, etc.]

Residential uses in these areas are subject to the existing regulations, and owners can apply for variances from the ZBA. [Sidebar: a variance may be granted in 2 situations: 1. a hardship, which is a unique property of the land that makes it equitable to vary the regs; and 2. a reduction of the property’s nonconformity – reduce a deck, move the structure, etc.] Jane M. feels that both sorts of properties should be subject to the same scheme of regulation and that a special permit process is fairer to the applicant than the variance process.

Right now, the western half of the town is subject to the CT River Gateway requirement of a 100’ setback from the CT River and tributaries; but variances can be given to residential properties. An audience member asked why we didn’t just set an elevation requirement, but both Jane and I feel that, as sea levels rise and FEMA makes new determinations, the regulations would have to be revised often to account for the changes. It makes sense that a property owner who wishes to engage in new construction presents the commission with the property’s elevation at the time of the application.”

Without sight of Cable’s opinion, which was written significantly later, Steve Ross, who is a member of the Flood & Erosion Control and Harbor Management Boards, presented a contrasting point of view in the following written comments sent by email to LymeLine.com, “The public hearing held by the Zoning Commission on Oct 15, was well attended by approximately 100 people. The proposed amendment appeared to be opposed by everyone and both the Planning Commission and ZBA have submitted written responses to the referral unanimously opposing the amendment.

The Zoning Board did not respond to the written reply of the Planning Commission which listed numerous reasons why it is redundant, arbitrary, unenforceable, inconsistent with the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development and contrary to established legal zoning practices.

In fact, only Chairman Cable and Jane Marsh responded to questions raised at the hearing. We have yet to hear the opinion of the other members of the commission.

The opinions voiced subsequent to the hearing, which has been continued until Nov., by members of the public, Planning Commission and ZBA is that the Zoning Commission should withdraw the proposal. Pursuing this amendment, could result in costly litigation for the taxpayers for the challenges that are inevitable.”

Here at LymeLine.com, in order to assist our readers in understanding the issues raised by the proposed wording and reactions to date from the various commissions in town on whom this proposal has an impact, we have published several letters from these commissions to Zoning along with one from Nancy Hutchinson, who is chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals but is writing in this context as a private citizen. All the letters are public record.
We are aware there is a great deal of information to digest here but hope readers still find this useful. We start with a reminder of the proposed new text that is under discussion.

Proposed new text of Section 4.3 of Tidal Waters Protection

It is declared that sea level rise and the tidal effects associated therewith are conditions that affect all coastal and riverfront properties in the Town of Old Lyme. Accordingly, no Building or other Structure, including drainage structures, septic systems, wells, and retaining walls, shall extend within less than 100 feet of the coastal jurisdiction line, as defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 22a-359, of any tidal Watercourse or its associated wetlands without obtaining a Special Permit from the Zoning Commission in accordance with the provisions of Section 13B. 

4.3.1 Any Structures and/or Site Development authorized in this section must demonstrate consistency with the standards and purposes of Section 4.2 Coastal Boundary.

4.3.2 The Commission shall consider the impact of Section 4.4 Flood Hazard Regulations on any existing development, including potential increased and advancing flooding conditions and changes in flood mapping. All new development shall demonstrate full compliance with Section 4.4.

4.3.3 The Commission shall consider the impacts on surrounding properties, including visual obstruction of existing views and maintaining consistency with neighborhood characteristics. 

4.3.4 The Commission shall consider whether or not infrastructure such as access roads and utilities will be reasonably available under maximum flooding conditions and have backup utilities and plans for emergency evacuation.

4.3.5 The Commission shall consider the general impact of permitting development in flood prone areas and specifically any policies set forth in Old Lyme’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

4.3.6 A Special Permit shall be required for new construction, alteration or expansion of existing construction and any site improvements within the 100-foot setback.

4.3.7 The Zoning Board of Appeals shall not grant a variance of this Section 4.3.

We now follow with a series of letters published in date order, starting with one from the CT DEEP to the Old Lyme Zoning Commission in response to a request from the Commission for a review of the proposal.

Letter from the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection to Old Lyme Zoning Commission, dated Aug. 5, 2019

ReProposed zoning text amendments to Section 4.3, Tidal Waters protection 

Dear Chairman Cable and Commissioners

Thank you for notifying this office of the proposed zoning regulation amendments noted above. Acting as the Commissioners staff, our office has reviewed the amendments for consistency with the policies and standards of the Connecticut Coastal Management Act (CCMA), and DEEP has the following comments the Commission may wish to consider

First, DEEP would like to take this opportunity to applaud the Zoning Commission on this initial revision of Section 4.3 to increase protection of critical coastal resource management areas within the community and addressing the impacts of future sea level rise to people and property. In reviewing the proposed text amendments based on their text alone (i.e., without any background support documentation), DEEP has noted a number of positive attributes and some potential concerns which may need consideration or clarification. We hope these comments will help strengthen the proposed revision of section 4.3 of the towns local zoning regulations

Positive Features of the Proposed Zoning Text Amendments

  • Will increase the minimum setback and associated protection of sensitive coastal resources by requiring a 100-foot, rather than the existing 50-foot buffer from the coastal jurisdiction line;
  • Will provide the Zoning Commission more control over development in coastal resource areas;
  • Will restrict the circumvention of the requirements of Section 4.3 by an applicant since the changes would prohibit the Zoning Board of Appeals from granting a variance from compliance with this section of the zoning regulations;
  • Will place more emphasis on compliance with local floodplain management regulations for construction in coastal resource areas, and the need for dry access; and
  • Will require a Special Permit for any type of construction or development within the revised 100 foot setback area – no exemptions or exceptions would be allowed. 

Potential Concerns with the Proposed Zoning Text Amendments

Many of the specific proposed text amendments have implications that the Commission may want to consider and perhaps revise to ensure that the purposes of the revisions to Section 4.3 are met

  • Text in the first paragraph of section 4.3 is somewhat confusing, since coastal wetlands are not delineated by the coastal jurisdiction line. If the Commission wishes to establish a setback from tidal wetlands, we suggest that, along with the citation of Section 22a-359, the text should also cite Section 22a-29 for the definition of a tidal wetland.
  • Section 4.3.2 would benefit from additional clarification as to the intent of the new language. It is unclear as to what is truly meant by the first sentence, and how all existing development would comply with Section 4.4. Does this only mean existing development that would now be located within this new 100-foot setback area? How would this pertain to existing development if the need for a special permit arises for the installation of drainage structures, wells, septic system upgrades, etc. for the functioning of an existing residence that would require this upgrade to be located within the proposed 100-foot setback? Has the Commission considered potential situations for which a Special Permit associated with an existing residence might be denied?
  • Section 4.3.3 discusses the consideration the Commission must make with respect to impacts to surrounding properties and neighborhood characteristics. However, the set of specific criteria that will guide the Zoning Commission’s decisions on this issue is not included or referred to in the proposed text amendments. Without specific criteria this requirement may unfairly and negatively impact an applicant that would want to develop a new residence on his/her property which otherwise complies with all requirements of Sections 4.3, 4.4, and 4.10.3. This may result in a potential exclusionary situation for applicants, who would have no relief through an appeal process. How will the Commission ensure that a “level playing field” has been created for all applicants given that the Special Permit process will be required for any construction, whether it be for a water-dependent use, upgrades to drainage, septic systems, walls, etc., or new construction of a residence?
  • In section 4.3.4, the term “reasonably” is used – what are the specific criteria that Commissioners would use in order to determine a proposed development has been planned with reasonable protective measures? No specific criteria have been included or referred to in the amendment.
  • In section 4.3.5, it refers to the requirement that the Commission shall consider permitting in flood prone areas and any policies specified in the community’s POCD. The current version of this document is somewhat general with respect to specific floodplain development policies and recommendations with respect to future development in coastal resource areas. How will the Commission move forward to consider the general impact from a development with respect to any policies set forth in the POCD? What are the specific policies, as presented in the local POCD, which the Commission will use in their consideration of a new development? In addition, this statement appears to focus on a larger area, the community’s delineated Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) as defined by FEMA or any area not delineated as a SFHA but is currently prone to flooding, rather than within the newly proposed 100-foot setback area.
  • The proposed text amendments are silent with respect to water-dependent uses and their construction and existence within the 100-foot setback area. This is a major change from what is stated in the existing text of Section 4.3. As presented, it is unclear as to whether the proposed zoning text changes are consistent with the goals and policies of the CCMA due to the issue of water dependent uses, their need for construction in the 100-foot setback area, and the prohibition of obtaining a variance from strict compliance from the proposed requirements. Accordingly, clarification as to how water dependent uses will be treated with respect to Section 4.3 should be considered.
  • Other uses as well as the proposed prohibition of a variance from any portion of the newly revised zoning section may have legal implications with respect to water-dependent uses, since it does not allow an applicant any form of relief or the ability to appeal a decision by the Commission except to Superior Court. It is unknown whether the Commission has studied the effect such a prohibition would have on any unusual existing situations in which a variance from the regulation may be warranted. The Commission may want to have the town’s legal counsel review the proposed text amendments to identify potential legal issues that may arise if an applicant chose to challenge the this prohibition from the receipt of a variance or lack of an appropriate appeal process.
  • The proposed revisions do not discuss the Connecticut River Gateway Conservation Zone or make reference to the specific purposes for the creation of this conservation zone. It is unclear as to whether the proposed setback increase from 50-feet to 100-feet makes this existing conservation zone redundant, or whether as defined in the first paragraph of the proposed text amendments, it is a greater setback than the defined setback of the Connecticut River Gateway Conservation Zone.
  • Finally, the proposed text changes remove the reference to section 4.10.3, Connecticut River Setbacks, of the local zoning regulations. The Commission may want to reconsider this omission from section 4.3. 

Please be advised that this consistency determination was based on coastal management considerations only, and does not necessarily reflect other municipal planning and zoning considerations that may apply. These comments are made in response to the review requirement contained in Section 22a-104(e) of the Connecticut General Statutes, which requires that notification be sent to the Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection at least 35 days prior to the commencement of the public hearing. Once notified, our office is responsible for reviewing the proposal’s consistency with the policies of Section 22a-92 and the criteria of Section 22a-102(b) of the CCMA. 

Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please feel free to contact me at (860) 424-3779 or by email at karen.michaels@ct.gov. 

Karen A. Michaels
Environmental Analyst III Land and Water Resources Division

Letter from Planning Commission Chair Harold Thompson, on behalf of the full Commission, to Old Lyme Zoning Commission, dated Oct. 10, 2019

The Planning Commission discussed the proposed new text to Section 4.3 Tidal Waters Protection, and voted unanimously to determine that the proposed Text Amendment to Section 4.3 is NOT consistent with the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development.  The members of the Planning Commission feel that the proposed text is redundant and that the existing Zoning Regulations, including the existing Tidal Waters Protection, Coastal Boundary, Flood Hazard Regulations and Conservation Zone Review – Gateway provide substantial regulation of the Town’s coastal areas.  Further, we feel the new text is over reaching, in some parts unenforceable, arbitrary and contrary to what is considered established legal zoning practices. Our objections and reasons for finding this amendment inconsistent with the Plan of Conservation and Development, include but are not limited to the following: 

In the 2017 update to the Plan of Conservation and Development, the Commission included the following: “Where applicable, the Town and the implementation of zoning regulations and review of Coastal Management Act, Connecticut General Statutes Section 22a-90 et seq., should balance the private property ownership rights of individuals who live in coastal areas with resource protection, and improvement where possible, for features such as areas with fragile tidal marshes, flood plains, beaches, dunes and other areas that are protected.  The Town’s shoreline/beach communities and neighborhoods are a major economic driver of the Town of Old Lyme. Those communities are the most at risk of the threats of sea level rise.  

As the sea levels rise, property owners should be allowed to take reasonable measures as specified above to protect their properties through the adaption measures specified above, including elevating their homes and/or construction of living shorelines and living shorelines incorporating stone.”  This amendment completely tips the scale toward coastal resources protection (or over protection) and minimizes any consideration of private property rights.  

This proposal appears to change numerous properties from conforming to non-conforming. This has the effect of diminishing property rights or possibly eliminating the right to use completely.  Many municipalities apply a 50-foot setback from the Tidal Wetlands, which is the norm and should not be extended without justification.   

Property values would also be diminished by changing many properties to non-conforming. This change is being proposed with no compensation.  Also, it provides an argument for owners to appeal property assessments due to reduced value. This will have a negative impact on the Town’s Grand List total.  Our waterfront and water proximity lots are a key to the Town’s Grand List and should not be unreasonably restricted in use or value.   

Prohibiting application for a variance is certain to be challenged legally. This is a major overreach of authority by the Zoning Commission and an affront to the process where a property owner can seek relief based upon hardship or exceptional difficulty.  This appears to be an overreach of authority and lack of concern for property owner rights. 

Proposed Section 4.3.3 gives the Zoning Commission subjective judgement that is arbitrary and without ascertainable standards. 

The regulation asks the Zoning Commission to consider “potential increased and advanced flooding conditions.”  This standard requires the Zoning Commission to try to predict future flooding patterns, which will be a very difficult standard to meet. 

The regulations also require that the Zoning Commission to consider “consistency with neighborhood characteristics.” This is wide open for Zoning Commission interpretation and personal likes and dislikes. There is no real consistency or specific criteria in the shoreline properties to use as a baseline; they vary considerably in size, style, height, color, construction, siding and roof types, etc.  We believe this is another example of disregard for property owner rights.  There is no relief for the property owner in this process.

The proposal would also severely limit or exclude any changes and/or improvements at all the commercial marine businesses. This is contrary to economic development and overly restrictive of an already highly regulated industry.  Again, looking toward the Town development, marine businesses are crucial to boating and tourism – two major aspects of our Town economy.  

Further, the Planning Commission commented on the letter from Karen A. Michaels, Environmental Analyst III at DEEP in support of the amendment.  We have learned that Ms. Michaels did not copy, review or discuss this letter to either Brian Golembiewski at DEEP who typically reviews such letters before their submission, nor Brian Thompson, Director of LIS Programs at DEEP.  In fact, neither of them was aware of the letter until a month after it had been sent to the Zoning Commission and released to the press (CT Examiner). This is highly irregular and against procedure at DEEP. When contacted to ask if this letter represented an official position of the DEEP.  Mr. Bryan Thompson did not take a position. Harold Thompson, Chairman of the Old Lyme Planning Commission contacted Bryan Thompson to ask if the letter represented the position of the DEEP. Bryan Thompson stated that he had read the letter within hour of receiving the phone call from Harold Thompson and he stated that he would not comment on the letter until he had an opportunity to review the letter in more detail.  To date we have heard nothing more. 

The letter from Ms. Michaels, DEEP, to the Old Lyme Zoning Commission on August 5, 2019, did address a number of concerns that the Planning Commission believes should also be addressed for this proposed revision.  

The proposed amendment, as written, appears to have been drafted with a narrow focus.  The proposed revision failed to review possible consequences of this revision beyond the original intent of revising Section 4.3 of the Old Lyme Zoning Commission Regulations.  

The Planning Commission feels this proposed amendment is not consistent with the Town Plan of Conservation and Development and existing Section 4.3 provides adequate protection provided in existing State and local regulations.

Letter from Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals to Old Lyme Zoning Commission, dated Oct. 10, 2019
Attached, please find a communication to the Zoning Commission from the Zoning Board of Appeals.  The intent of this communication is to support the Zoning Commission in making a fully informed decision related to its proposed amendment to Section 4.3 of the Old Lyme Zoning regulations, which we understand to be based, at least in part, on concerns about “variances granted” at 131 Shore Rd.

The attached communication provides a fact-based summary of the variance application for 131 Shore Rd, along with supporting documentation from 2016 to 2019. 

Unfortunately, no one from the ZBA will be able to attend the Oct 15th Zoning Commission Public Hearing, as it conflicts with our regularly scheduled Oct ZBA meeting.  Therefore, please have this communication be read at the Oct 15th Public Hearing, and please add it and its attachments to the written record.

The ZBA hopes the Zoning Commission and the public finds this information helpful.

Date: Oct. 10, 2019
Subject: Information Related to Proposed Amendment to Section 4.3. 

Thank you for copying the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on the proposed amendment to Old Lyme Zoning Regulations Section 4.3. The ZBA learned via a news article that part of the genesis of the proposed amendment may have been due to a concern about “variances granted” at 131 Shore Road ( https://ctexaminer.com/2019/09/10/old-lyme-zoning-commission-proposes-limits-on- waterfront-building/ ). Therefore, to support the Zoning Commission in making a fully informed decision regarding the proposed amendment, the ZBA is providing a fact-based summary of the variance application for 131 Shore Rd. Please read this note into the record at the public hearing and add attachments into the record.

➢ The original dwelling at 131 Shore Rd, built in 1976, had multiple legal pre-existing non- conformities, including its location within 50 feet of regulated tidal wetland and within the 100- foot setback for CT River Gateway “Conservation Zone”. 

➢ The original dwelling also spanned two coastal flood zones: the more dangerous VE flood zone (wave action greater than 3 feet) and the AE flood zone (wave action less than 3 feet); thus, any renovation exceeding 50% fair market value of the structure required it be elevated and comply with applicable FEMA requirements.

➢ The applicants proposed replacing the original dwelling with a FEMA-compliant dwelling in a more conforming location: outside the 50-foot tidal wetland restriction and 29 feet farther from CT River tidal wetlands. The more conforming location would also be outside the more dangerous VE Coastal flood zone.

➢ The Zoning Enforcement Officer, in his capacity as agent of the Zoning Commission, determined the only variances required were to the 100-ft CT River Gateway “Conservation Zone” setback: Section 4.3.1 and 4.10.3. After its review, the CT River Gateway Commission stated they would not oppose the granting of the variances with certain conditions.

➢ After reviewing the CAM Application, CT-DEEP supported relocating the dwelling landward, beyond the VE Flood Zone. CT-DEEP also suggested the applicant voluntarily build to more stringent VE-flood zone standards, as it is not currently required by either FEMA or the Old Lyme Zoning Regulations. Recommendations that were incorporated included planting riparian buffer.

➢ In alignment with CT River Gateway and CT-DEEP feedback, and with all requests from CT River Gateway Commission added as “Conditions”, the ZBA granted only the requested variances (Sections 4.3.1 & 4.10.3), due to increased safety of a more landward FEMA-compliant dwelling; reduced encroachment into tidal and coastal areas; and reductions in pre-existing non- conformities. 

Attachments: 2016 Property Record Card; Aug2016 Zoning Compliance Permit Application with 

Health Approval and ZEO Compliance Report; Variance Application; CAM Application; Letters from CT River Gateway Commission and CT-DEEP; Sep2016 ZBA Variance granted; an Aug2019 Zoning Permit denoting the ZEO’s independent authorization of fill and retaining wall revisions. 

Please note, the ZBA cannot vary a requirement for a Special Permit, including that required for accessory structures located within 50-feet of a regulated tidal wetland per current Section 4.3, or any new requirements for Special Permits in the proposed amendment to Section 4.3.

Letter from Nancy Hutchinson to Zoning Commission, dated Oct. 10, 2019

Subject:  Section 4.3 Proposed Amendment.

I am providing these comments as a private citizen with 5-years’ experience involved CT Land Use and having completed numerous UConn CLEAR, CT Bar Association, and CAZEO training programs related to CT Land Use and Zoning Enforcement.  These comments are not being provided on behalf of any Old Lyme Land Use Board or Commission or in my capacity as a member of such Board or Commission.  

Also, as I am not an attorney, I will not attempt to address potential legal considerations related to the proposed amendments, and simply request that the Zoning Commission’s Legal Counsel provide a review in that regard, particularly with respect to the legal concerns raised by the Planning Commission and CT-DEEP. 

Please know that the considerations offered below are intended to support the Zoning Commission’s effort to protect Old Lyme’s tidal and coastal resources, while also protecting public health, safety and property, in anticipation of predicted sea level rise and in alignment with Old Lyme’s Plan of Conservation and Development.

  • Elevation vs Distance:  If the objective is to both protect vulnerable tidal/coastal areas and protect public safety and property in anticipation of sea level rise, would a more useful increase in proposed protection be related to elevation rather than linear distance?  For example, rather than increasing the linear distance of prohibited construction from 50 feet to 100 feet from regulated tidal wetlands (which depending upon local topography may or may not be relevant to sea level rise), consider relating the prohibition (or Special Permit requirement) to structures contiguous to AND within a specified vertical elevation of regulated tidal wetlands (e.g.:  NAVD88). The exact elevation could potentially be linked to either the sea level rise predicted by a relevant organization or regulatory body by a specific date, or a specific number of feet.  
  • AE vs VE coastal flood zone requirements:  In at least some AE Coastal Flood Zones, consider revising the Coastal Flood Zone regulations to require construction meet the more stringent VE Coastal Flood Zone requirements (as often recommended by CT-DEEP); e.g.: AE Coastal Flood Zones that are contiguous to and within X feet elevation of VE Coastal Flood Zones or regulated tidal wetlands.  Adding these requirements may have several potential benefits: 1) preventing the use of “fill” to elevate structures to meet FEMA compliance near these highly sensitive areas (“fill” elevation is allowed in AE, but not VE, Flood Zones), 2) improving public safety by elevating construction standards in highly vulnerable areas; and 3) potentially increasing the Town’s NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) credits, which may help lower the Town’s NFIP flood insurance premiums, especially if combined with an increase in required free-board from 1 to 2 feet.  
  • Limit Enclosure of areas below Base Flood Elevation (BFE):  Consider limiting the area below Base Flood Elevation (BFE) that can be enclosed with “breakaway walls”, in accordance with FEMA VE Flood Zone recommendations, but not requirements.  This may help to reduce “obstructions” and “floating debris” during a flood; facilitate the ability to enforce the use of areas below BFE to only limited storage and parking; and has the potential increase the Town’s NFIP CRS credits and reduce flood insurance premiums.
  • Maximum Height and FEMA Requirements:  Consider revising the maximum height regulations within the R-10 district to allow up to an extra 10-12 feet – solely to the extent necessary to elevate a dwelling (existing or reconstructed) to meet Coastal Flood Zone requirements (including the required Free Board).  This would improve public safety by facilitating the ability of applicants to comply with Coastal Flood Zone requirements – assuming no other increases in zoning non-conformity.  Variances should still be required if the plan would result in any other increases in non-conformity; and a Special Permit may also be required, for example, when the elevated dwelling is located on a non-conforming R-10 lot (Section 9.1.3.2).     
  • Unintended consequence of removing Section 4.3 prohibitions:  It is possible that by removing prohibitions for new construction, other than marine facility or accessory structure per Special Permit, within 50 or 100 feet of tidal wetlands (depending upon whether outside or within the CT River Gateway “Conservation Zone”, respectively) and replacing them exclusively with a requirement for a Special Permit, that the Commission may inadvertently be making it easier for construction of new dwellings or other uses in these sensitive coastal areas.  Unlike prohibitions, which can only be varied upon demonstration of a legal hardship or, in some instances, when an overall reduction in legal pre-existing non-conformities are proposed/agreed, Special Permits must be approved if the permitted use meets the specific criteria defined in the Zoning Regulations – however they are defined.  Under the current Section 4.3, Special Permits are only allowed for marine facilities or accessory structures; however, under the proposed amendment to Section 4.3, a permitted use by Special Permit within 50 or 100 feet of tidal wetlands is expanded because the prohibition of non-marine or non-accessory uses has been removed.  Of note, a change to Section 4.3 also impacts Section 4.2.13 Construction or Enlargement of Certain Buildings Adjoining Coastal Resources, because that section also refers to regulated Tidal Wetlands and defines an exception based on Section 4.3.
  • Variance, Special Permit & CAM Applications:  Consider opportunities to improve the process and communication between applicants, ZEO and Boards/Commission in situations where an application requires a both a variance and a Special Permit (see Section 13B.4.2), including requiring the ZEO to denote on the Zoning Compliance Permit Application and on his Compliance Table when a Special Permit will be required – in addition to a variance.  Also, in situations where an application requires a variance, a Special Permit, AND a Municipal Coastal Site Plan Review Application (CAM application), consider recommending that the CAM application be reviewed as part of the Special Permit review, such that the Zoning Board of Appeals may condition its variance approval on approval of the CAM application by the Board/Commission performing the Special Permit review.  This would allow the CAM review to occur with the full complement of more detailed information required for a Special Permit application, and reduce potential conflicts between variance and Special Permit reviews.   
  • Interpretations based on Flood Zone elevations:  It may be helpful for the Zoning Commission to clarify how the application of standard zoning regulations are affected (or not) when a dwelling is being elevated to comply with Flood Zone requirements.  Of note, a homeowner is required to elevate their home if planned renovations exceed 50% of the fair market value of the structure in a flood zone.  Several areas where there appears to be some ambiguity in enforcement include:
    • whether FEMA elevation meets the definition of “Enlargement” per definition Section 3.57: “Any addition to the Floor Area or volume of an existing Building, and increase in the size of any other Structure, or an increase in that portion of a tract of land occupied and existing Use.”  Specifically, whether the area below base flood elevation, which can only be used for limited storage and parking, is an increase in “volume” of the dwelling even though it does not count as Floor Area. 
    • whether FEMA elevation meets the definition of increased “Bulk” per Section 3.25 (even if the area under BFE is not enclosed); thus, whether elevation of an existing home that encroaches into a property line setback results in an increase in non-conformity due to increased “Bulk” in the setback.  
  • Enforcement of Zoning Regulations:  If the Zoning Commission is concerned that some regulations are not being adequately enforced, particularly requirements for Special Permits, it may be helpful to enhance your oversight of the Zoning Enforcement Officer’s enforcement performance – recognizing that the ZEO acts as an Agent of the Zoning Commission – to ensure all zoning regulations are consistently enforced as written.

I hope you find these suggested considerations helpful as you evaluate potential regulation amendments.  

Letter from Todd Machnik, Chairman, Flood & Erosion Control Board, dated Oct 23, 2019

We are aware of your proposal to Amend Section 4.3, the letters in reply to your referral from the Planning Commission & ZBA as well as attending the public hearing held October 15. At our October 21 meeting we discussed the proposed amendment and decided to submit a letter to you stating our position. Section 4.3 has some overlap with our Board because it seeks to protect tidal wetlands and coastal properties from damage due to flooding which gives Zoning and the FECB a common interest.The intent of the amendment is clear but we concur with the Planning Commission and ZBA that it is redundant and not necessary. Further, we feel it is not just over reaching and intended to shift authority from other commissions to the Zoning Commission. We also have a major concern with not only prohibiting property owners to apply to ZBA for a variance but the failure to include any appeal process. This appears extremely heavy handed and denies property owners of rights without due process. The alternative you leave is to file a lawsuit, an expensive and long process, rather than an appeal which is common and proper Zoning practice.These issues and the proposed 4.3.3 which gives Zoning subjective authority to determine conformity for consistency with neighborhood characteristics yet set no standards or guidelines. The determinations would be subject to the preferences of the commission members and could easily vary. Further, an inspection of the properties in the Old Lyme shoreline and abutting tidal wetlands will show there is no conformity in the style, size, height, color or any other feature of the homes and properties.

We feel that the proposed amendment is flawed and invites challenges which would be costly to defend and an expense paid by taxpayers. The rights of property owners are not respected by the amendment and ignores their right to protect their properties from rising sea levels and
risk of flooding. These issues need to be addressed, not adding redundancy beyond the numerous regulatory acts and reviews already in place and working just fine. A constructive amendment would revise the height requirements where elevation to prevent flooding is advisable. Allowing the height be increased by the amount necessary to conform to FEMA regulations, over the current height maximum for the zone is the approach being taken in numerous other CT shoreline towns and should be considered.

The Flood & Erosion Control Board has the authority, under state statute, to establish flood zones. Perhaps this is an approach to consider to make changes to protect coastal properties, tidal wetlands and prevent flooding that would damage them.

Opposition to the amendment has been unanimous from other town boards and commissions and the public. We did not hear any of the approximately 100 people who attended the public hearing speak or give an indication they are in favor of it. We recommend that you withdraw the proposed amendment.

Please read this letter into the record at the next public hearing.

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Old Lyme Boys Advance to Second Round of State Soccer Contest

Old Lyme defeated Montville yesterday 3-1 at Montville High School in the first round of the Class S state tournament

Avery Welch scored twice for the Wildcats unassisted and Richard Damiano notched the third.

Montville’s lone goal was an own goal by Old Lyme.

Ryan Tetreault was in net for the ‘Cats and made six saves, while Isaiah Gallagher made nine saves in goal for Montville.

Old Lyme now faces shoreline rival Hale Ray Wednesday at 2 p.m. at Hale-Ray High School in the second round of the state tournament.

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Construction Begins at Old Lyme’s PGN Library; Parking Lot to be Closed for Three Weeks

Construction will begin at the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library on Monday.

OLD LYME — Construction on the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library grounds begins today, Monday, Nov. 11. The parking lot will be completely inaccessible for approximately three weeks. Library visitors should park on Lyme Street during this stage of construction.

Library staff will strive to keep the main entrance, the book drop, and handicapped parking open as much as possible. Library staff understand that this is a significant inconvenience for all Library visitors.

The good news is that the Library will have an expanded parking lot when the work is complete. Patrons are encouraged to contact the staff at 860-434-1684 if they are unable to reach the Library due to the construction to make alternative service arrangements.

Construction will begin Monday, Nov. 18 inside the library. The first phase of interior work will focus on the downstairs BookCellar, the second floor, and the room adjacent to the 1898 Reading Room.

For the most up-to-date construction or construction-related information, visit thanksphoebe.org.

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Griswold (R) Won First Selectman & Town Treasurer in Election, But Cannot Serve in Both Roles; Reiter (D) to be Named Treasurer

Incoming Old Lyme Town Treasurer Michael Reiter, (D). File photo.

OLD LYME —Republican Tim Griswold not only won the position of Old Lyme First Selectman in Tuesday’s election, but also that of Town Treasurer, for which he was the incumbent.

He was already on the election ballot to run as Town Treasurer prior to nominations closing, but when he subsequently petitioned successfully to run as First Selectman, his name was left on the ballot as the Republican candidate for Treasurer.

Now that he has won both positions in the election, he has to choose in which one he is going to serve.  Connecticut State Statute does not permit him to serve to serve in both roles.

Asked by LymeLine.com what he planned to do, Griswold responded in a text message, “Our Town Clerk [Vicki Urbowicz] states that, having won both positions, I must send her a letter of resignation from one of the offices (Treasurer in my case). That will enable her to officially state that the next higher (only other) vote recipient (Democrat) is the Treasurer of the Town.”

This means Democrat Michael Reiter will be named to the position, although Reiter garnered 1430 votes to Griswold’s 1691. Contacted by LymeLine.com, Reiter confirmed his understanding of the situation was the same as Griswold’s, noting that he too had spoken to Urbowicz for clarification.

Asked his reaction to becoming Old Lyme Town Treasurer, Reiter commented in an e-mail, “I look forward to working with Tim, Chris and Mary Jo to ensure town funds are spent as approved by the town at our annual budget meeting.”

Town-elected officials take up their appointments on Tuesday, Nov. 19, but the swearing-in ceremony can occur before that date.

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Letter to the Editor: A Post-Election Message To The People of Old Lyme, ‘We Must Go Forward Together’

To the Editor:

The election is behind us and Old Lyme still has a government. I am certain that Bonnie Reemsnyder will ensure a smooth and gracious transition to Mr. Griswold and our re-elected incumbent selectwoman, Mary Jo Nosal, and selectman, Chris Kerr.

Mr.Griswold inherits a fiscally strong Old Lyme that sits on a well-maintained infrastructure. Clearly, the RTC was able to keep the Port Authority issue in front of voters; and that probably made the difference.

So, now that we are past this contentious election, I’ll close with the words of Winston Churchill, who told Parliament and the British people: “We must go forward together”.

Sincerely,

Thomas D. Gotowka,
Old Lyme.

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Old Lyme’s Duck River Garden Club Recognized with Multiple Awards for Members’ Efforts

Duck River Garden Club members accept the club’s awards at Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut annual awards luncheon in October. From left to right: Denise Dugas; Kathy Burton, past president; Karen Geisler, vice president; Fay Wilkman, president; Suzanne Thompson, youth & scholarship coordinator; Beverly Lewis and Nan Strohla, past president & newsletter editor.

OLD LYME — The Duck River Garden Club (DRGC) of Old Lyme has received multiple awards from Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut for the club’s civic beautification, education and horticultural therapy efforts over the past year.

The Old Lyme club, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020, was presented the awards at the statewide federation’s annual awards meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Aqua Turf Country Club. The recognition includes three traveling trophies to be enjoyed for the coming year.

The DRGC’s monthly hands-on floral arranging programs for residents of Bride Brook Nursing Home received an Award of Excellence in Garden Therapy. The club’s weekly educational displays at Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, including “Houseplant Renaissance” and “Gardening for Birds and Butterflies” won the Civic Creativity Award.

This DRGC display outlines two of the clubs projects that were awarded traveling trophies, the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library displays and the Police Department native pollinator bed. Watch for this display in coming weeks at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library.

The ongoing project of redesigning and replanting the flower beds in front of the Old Lyme Police Department at 294 Shore Road with low-maintenance, pollinator-supporting native plants received the Award of Excellence for Historic, Memorial and Public Gardens. This is one of several civic beautification sites that DRGC volunteers maintain each year in Old Lyme.

The club’s monthly newsletter, produced by Paula Schiavone, and annual yearbook, compiled and edited for the past decade by Karin Kline, received First Place recognitions.

Duck River Garden Club (DRGC) President Fay Wilkman receiving one of the three top honors for DRGC at the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut awards meeting.

DRCG will hold a series of programs in 2020 to celebrate the club’s 50th anniversary. This will include a traveling historic display of gardening in Old Lyme, curated by the Old Lyme Historical Society. Watch for more information on DRGC’s website, www.oldlymeduckrivergc.org or call Fay Wilkman, DRGC president, 860-391-2622.

Many congratulations to all these wonderful, green-fingered ladies and gentlemen!

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Republicans Sweep All Seats in Old Lyme, Including Board of Education

The Old Lyme Republicans have much to celebrate tonight. They won every single contested seat in a bitterly fought election.  The full results, with the winners in bold and marked with an asterisk, were as follows:

FIRST SELECTMAN:

Bonnie Reemsnyder (D): 1,403

*Tim Griswold (R): 1,774

SELECTMAN:

*Mary Jo Nosal (D): 1,495

*Chris Kerr (R): 1,676

TREASURER:

Reiter (D): 1430

Griswold (R): 1691

TAX COLLECTOR:

Michaelson (D): 1262

*Tooker (R): 1905

BOARD OF FINANCE:

Rubino (D): 1361

Sturges (R): 1768

Reiter (D): 1367

*Kelsey (R): 1695

BOARD OF FINANCE ALTERNATES:

*Burrows (D): 1532

*Read (R): 1921

Taliento (D): 1430

*Olson (D): 1777

BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS

*Evers, Jr. (R): (R): 2235

PLANNING COMMISSION
5-Year Term beginning 2019

Klose (D): 1347

*Ross: (R): 1712

5-Year Term beginning 2020

Lampos: 1409

*Thompson: 1662

ZONING COMMISSION:
5-Year Term beginning 2019

Gemme: 1267

*Tinnerello: 1721

5-Year Term beginning 2020

Cable: 1366

*Miller: 1609

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
5-Year Term beginning 2019

Lowry (D): 1357

*Hutchinson (U): 1616

5-Year Term beginning 2019

Tracey (D): 1389

*Dix (R): 1558

Alternates

*Carney (R): 2174

*Johnston (R): 2007

REGION 18 BOARD OF EDUCATION

Bowman (D): 1471

*Thompson (R): 1600

Panzara-Griswold (D): 1400

*Miller (R): 1512

Kemp (R): 1341

*Wilson (R): 1518

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Griswold Wins in Old Lyme, Reemsnyder Voted off Board of Selectmen

The newly-elected First Selectman of Old Lyme is former First Selectman Tim Griswold.

At the end of a bitter election campaign, Republican Tim Griswold has regained his position as First Selectman of Old Lyme. The results were:

Tim Griswold (R): 1,774

Bonnie Reemsnyder (D): 1,403

Mary Jo Nosal (D): 1,495

Chris Kerr (R): 1,676

The board of selectmen will comprise Griswold and his running mate Chris Kerr, who will be joined by Democrat Mary Jo Nosal.  Incumbent First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder loses her seat on the board.

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Democrats Win All Contested Races in Lyme, Uncontested Board of Selectmen Re-elected for Another Term

Democrat Steven Mattson was re-elected as First Selectman of Lyme today.

LYME — Lyme voters today elected the incumbent board of selectmen of Democrats Steve Mattson and John Kiker along with Republican Parker Lord for another two-year term.  Mattson will continue as Lyme First Selectman with Kiker and Lord both serving as selectmen. Across other positions, the Democrats were successful in all contested races.

Upon learning the results of today’s municipal election, Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) Chairman John Kiker issued the following statement:

“On the behalf of everyone at the Lyme DTC, I would like to thank the people of the Town of Lyme for electing a slate of highly qualified Democratic candidates whose experience and expertise will benefit our town boards and commissions.  These newly elected officials love our town and want Lyme to stay the beautiful, historic town that it is; and they are grateful to have the opportunity to serve Lyme residents for the next two years.

I would also like to thank all the volunteers who helped run our campaign this year – in particular, the members of our Nominating Committee who did such an excellent job of identifying some of Lyme’s best and brightest to run for public office.”

The Lyme DTC’s mission is to support and strengthen the Democratic Party in the Town of Lyme and the State of Connecticut.  The committee meets on the fourth Thursday of every month at 7:30 in the Lyme Town Hall (barring holidays or other necessary schedule changes). These meetings are open to the public and all registered Democrats are encouraged to attend.

The full results with those elected in bold and marked with an asterisk are as follows:

BOARD OF SELECTMEN:

*Mattson (D): 580

*Kiker (D): 400

*Lord (R): 349

TREASURER

*Hawthorne (R): 533

BOARD OF FINANCE

*Leonardo (D): 501

*Hagan (R): 443

BOARD OF FINANCE ALTERNATE

*Tyler (D): 455

Caine (R): 294

Two-year vacancy

*House (D): 431

Anderson (R): 315

BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS

*Broom, Jr. (R): 518

PLANNING & ZONING COMMISSION

*House (D): 462

Potts (R): 347

*Gigliotti (R): 466

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

*Kiker (D): 543

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS ALTERNATE

*James (D): 416

Fiske (R): 328

LIBRARY BOARD OF DIRECTORS

*James (D): 420

*Ulrich (D): 511

*Fiske R): 369

REGION 18 BOARD OF EDUCATION

*Mary Powell-St. Louis (R): 555

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High Turnout in Old Lyme Election

There was still a great deal of activity in the Cross Lane parking lot just before the polls closed. Photo by Michele Dickey.

Polls are about to close in Lyme and Old Lyme.  Despite the rain, turnout in Old Lyme was heavy throughout the day. The last count we received from the registrars was 3,190 a few minutes ago.

Former Connecticut Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman (center) joined Democratic candidates in their election tent earlier today.

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Old Lyme Board of Selectmen Candidates Respond to our Questions

OLD LYME — In keeping with our now 16-year tradition and in the interests of increasing voter knowledge prior to next week’s important election, we posed three questions in writing to the candidates for the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen as follows:

  1. What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Halls Road/Lyme Street area of Old Lyme in 2025?
  2. What is your personal vision in broad terms for the Sound View area of Old Lyme in 2025?
  3. In light of Old Lyme’s current non-compliance with the state mandate that 10 percent of housing stock be deemed, “Affordable” and the recent withdrawal of the Affordable Housing proposal on Neck Rd., how do you see the future of Affordable Housing in Old Lyme?

We gave a 300-word limit for the response to each question to which each candidate strictly adhered: we are most appreciative of that.

We also added these words in our e-mail to the candidates when we sent them the questions: Regarding questions 1 and 2, please don’t answer, “It doesn’t matter what I want, it’s what the residents of Old Lyme want” — we know that’s the politically correct answer in light of your position as a candidate, but we would like to understand what you as an individual think would be best for the future of our town in the locations identified. 

We are delighted that all four candidates responded to our questions in a timely manner. We thank them sincerely and are pleased to publish their responses today accompanied by their respective biographies and photos.

Click on the links below to read each candidate’s responses:

Bonnie Reemsnyder (D): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme First Selectwoman

Tim Griswold (R): Candidate for Old Lyme First Selectman

Mary Jo Nosal (D): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme Selectwoman

Chris Kerr (R): Candidate (Incumbent) for Old Lyme Selectman

We should also state that, again in keeping with our long-held tradition, we will not be making any candidate endorsements.

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Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education Candidates Respond to our Questions

LYME/OLD LYME — In keeping with our now 16-year tradition and in the interests of increasing voter knowledge prior to next week’s important election, we posed three questions in writing to the candidates for the Region 18 Board of Education as follows:

  1. What are the three major issues in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools that you are currently aware of, which require resolution during your potential term of office?  Please list and explain each one briefly in order of importance.
  2. Regarding Question 1, explain more about your choice of the issue of most importance and how you think it should be resolved.
  3. What do you see as the main relevant skills and character attributes that you will bring to the position if elected?

We gave a 250-word limit for the response to each question to which each candidate strictly adhered: we are most appreciative of that.

Three of the board of education incumbents representing Old Lyme — the current chair Michelle ‘Mimi’ Roche, Erick Cushman and Stacey Winchell — are not seeking re-election. There are six candidates running for these three open Old Lyme seats.

Mary Powell-St. Louis, who is a board of education incumbent representing Lyme, is running uncontested in that town.  We are especially pleased that she chose to respond to our questions since she has no opponent.

We are delighted that all the candidates except one responded to our questions in a timely manner.  We understand why Lorianne Panzara-Griswold did not respond to our questions, but as a gesture of our care and concern for her situation, we are publishing a Letter to the Editor written to LymeLine.com by her recently.

We sincerely thank the candidates who responded and are pleased to publish their responses today accompanied by their respective biographies and photos.

Click on the links below to read each candidate’s responses:

Candidates running for Old Lyme seats, none of whom is an incumbent

Sarah Bowman (D)

Lorianne Panzara Griswold (D):

Jason Kemp (D)

Jennifer Miller (R)

Suzanne Thompson (R)

Steve Wilson (R)

Candidate running for Lyme seat (incumbent)

Mary Powell St. Louis (R)

We should also state that, again in keeping with our long-held tradition, we will not be making any candidate endorsements.

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Talking Transportation: Reading Old Timetables

Jim Cameron

I love reading timetables.  Not the new ones on smartphone apps, but the old printed ones.  Reading about a train or plane’s journey on paper is almost like taking the ride itself.

Growing up in Canada, I was fascinated with the two major passenger railroads, the quasi-government owned “crown corporation” Canadian National Railroad (CNR) and the private Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR).  Both ran transcontinental trains from Montreal and Toronto to Vancouver, a journey of 70+ hours … if they were on time.

I wondered why the CPR’s streamliner “The Canadian” left Toronto at 4:15 p.m. while its CNR competitor “The Super Continental” left at 6 p.m.  And why did the CNR’s later-leaving train arrive four hours earlier into Vancouver than the CPR’s?  Reading the 31 stop itinerary explained why: they took much different routes through the Canadian Rockies.  The CPR’s more southerly, scenic route was the highlight of the trip so they timed the journey for daylight hours.

Canada has two official languages, English and French, so it was by reading those timetables I learned that “quotidien” meant daily, “repas” meant meal and “douane” translated as customs, as in crossing an international border.

Fast forward 50 years and I’m still intrigued with old New Haven Railroad timetables, comparing that crack (private) railroad’s speeds with those of present-day Metro-North and Amtrak.  How did the New Haven make it from New Haven to Penn Station in 90 minutes while it today takes Amtrak 109 minutes?

But old timetables contain more than train times.  They also talk about the entire travel experience.

Did it really (in 1955) cost just $7.75 to go from Boston to NY in coach ($14 in a lower berth, $13 in an upper)?  The old timetables also list the trains’ “consists”… what kind of rail cars made up each run: coaches, Pullmans, Parlor-Lounge car (some equipped with two-way radio telephones) and diners.

On the aviation side, I remember when airlines published their own timetables too, often promoting their advanced aircraft: American Airline’s 707 Astrojet, United’s DC-8 Mainliner and Braniff Airlines “Conquistador” DC-6.

The illustrations were always of well-dressed travelers smiling as they boarded their planes using ground-stairs, long before airports had jetways.  The seating looked roomy and comfortable, and was tended by well-coiffed stewardesses serving elaborate meals.

But the grand-daddy of all airline timetables was the OAG, the Official Airlines Guide, a phone book-sized (look it up, kids) compendium of every flight in the country.  As a one-time road warrior, I even subscribed to the “pocket” version, which was about an inch thick.  Miss a flight?  Your OAG would show you the alternatives.

What I enjoyed most reading the OAG’s railroad-style timetable wasn’t the flight times, and later, the on-time performance percentage, but the kind of aircraft used on each flight.  I took a liking to TWA’s iconic L-1011’s and avoided American’s DC-10’s after the deadly 1979 crash at O’Hare.

And after 9/11, I always opted for any airline flying Airbus equipment.  The reason?  The 9/11 terrorists had gone to flight school to learn how to fly traditional “yolk” flight controls, but only the airlines’ own simulators could train pilots on the Airbus fly-by-wire joystick controls:  i.e., Airbus jets were not going to get hijacked.  Or so I hoped.

Today there are no paper timetables.  All the information is online and on my phone … handy, yes, but definitely not as romantic.

Posted with permission of Hearst CT Media.

About the author: Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien RTM.  The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com  For a full collection of  “Talking Transportation” columns, visit www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

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State Rep. Carney Requests Public Hearing to Address Port Authority Audit Findings

State Rep. Devin Carney (R- 23rd)

HARTFORD – (Press release from State Rep. Carney’s office) Yesterday, State Representative Devin Carney (R-23), Ranking Member of the legislature’s Transportation Bonding Sub-Committee, submitted a letter to the chairs of the legislatures Transportation Committee, Governor Ned Lamont, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill requesting the committee hold a public hearing to address recent findings in an audit of the Connecticut Port Authority.

Thursday’s audit uncovered improper records management, issues with the authority’s accounting system, inconsistencies with business related entertainment, travel, and meal expenses, failure to maintain supporting documentation for some transactions, among several others.

“The gross negligence and blatant dishonesty outlined in the most recent audit of the Connecticut Port Authority is disturbing and even more of a reason why a public hearing needs to take place,” Rep. Carney said.

He continued, “The legislature needs to speak to those who were employed by, or in power, when this audit took place in order to get to the bottom of the authority’s abuse of taxpayer money and a public hearing would allow us to do so. I call on my colleagues in the legislature and our constitutional officers, including, most importantly, our Secretary of State, to join me in requesting a public hearing to get answers and to help restore public trust. I appreciate the auditors for their hard work and look forward to working to improve oversight of the Port Authority and all of our quasi-public agencies.”

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Op-Ed: Old Lyme is in Good Hands; Keep It That Way by Ignoring Mis-truths, Giving Reemsnyder, Nosal Another Term

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was submitted by Eileen and John Mueller of Old Lyme.

There is a broad consensus in Old Lyme that our town is doing very well. Our mill rate is low, our quality of life is high, and our schools are among the best in the state.  Under the leadership of Bonnie Reemsnyder and Mary Jo Nosal, infrastructure has been maintained, economic development has been encouraged, and the high-speed rail threat was stopped in its tracks.  Why, then, should there be a change at Town Hall? Tim Griswold and the Republican Town Committee have offered no strategy for the future; indeed, it seems they would like to roll back progress, and in the absence of a substantive plan they are trying to seek your vote by questioning Bonnie’s character.

Anyone who knows Bonnie, or who has worked with her over the 16 years she has led the town (8 of those as First Selectman), can vouch for her absolute integrity.  It is truly unfortunate that the Washington practice of manipulating the truth has seeped into Old Lyme with the innuendos and mis-truths spread by the RTC. If you want to review the relevant facts, they can be found here on the Democratic Town Committee’s website.  Suffice it to say, Bonnie engaged in no illegal or unethical conduct and has always represented herself and the Town of Old Lyme with the highest of ethical standards.

Contrast this with the behavior of Tim Griswold and the RTC.   Although their campaign slogan is “absolute integrity,” they apparently have no interest in following Connecticut law regarding campaign financing.  They have utilized contribution and election forms, and advertisements that omit the legally-required disclosures. More concerning, Tim is both the treasurer of the RTC and a candidate for two offices it is funding.  This is a blatant violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 9-606(d), which provides in part that “A candidate shall not serve as the candidate’s own treasurer.” If these violations were not intentional, they nevertheless raise serious questions about Tim’s understanding and compliance with the law and the likelihood that he would exercise the care, diligence and attention to detail required to discharge properly the duties of first selectman or treasurer. 

With many rumors and misinformation flying around town, we sought out clarification and here are the facts that should correct the following false claims:

  1. What is the status of the plan for Halls Road? Currently, there is no master plan for Halls Road.  Although the ideas shared with the public by the Halls Road Improvements Committee have enjoyed widespread support, the committee is still in the process of gathering public input and has not begun to put a plan together.  Whatever plan is developed will not position the town as a developer nor impose any obligations on private landowners. Instead, the purpose of the plan will be to provide additional opportunities for the business owners to improve their properties, if they choose.
  2. What about sewers? Bonnie has not discussed and is not advocating sewers to any portion of Old Lyme other than the beach area.  David Kelsey’s CT Examiner asserted that Dan Steward, First Selectman of Waterford, had made a contrary claim in his interview.  The reporter made an error and Dan Steward sent the reporter a correction. Subtext of the correction read, “My discussion with the reporter was very generic when it came to sewers, and I did not intend to imply that Bonnie has talked to me about any plans to sewer areas of Old Lyme other than the current beach community project.”  Rest easy homeowners, there are no discussions to expand sewers in Old Lyme.
  3. What about affordable housing? Bonnie supports affordable housing generally but expressed no view regarding HOPE Partnership’s proposed project and she took no action with respect to town approvals.  Bonnie has never concealed the fact that she, like other local first selectmen and Devin Carney, our state representative, sat on HOPE’s honorary advisory board.  

We’re grateful for the hard work and dedication demonstrated by Bonnie and Mary Jo, and felt it is important that our community members have the true facts, not the false or misleading information that is perpetuated by some in the community.  If this behavior is what the RTC means by “Absolute Integrity,” we suggest you take another look. Change for change’s sake makes no sense.  

The continued health of Old Lyme can be assured only with a vote for Bonnie and Mary Jo on November 5.

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Hooray for Halloween! Almost Against All Odds, It Did Happen on Lyme Street Last Night …

It wasn’t only the children having fun on Lyme Street last night – Julie O’Brien (left) and Martha Quaratella were fully invested in the spirit of the evening!

OLD LYME — Despite the weather, a cancelled parade, a fallen tree, and power outages galore, Halloween happened anyway in Old Lyme! 

We’re delighted to share a few photos from the notorious night when trick or treating ghosts and ghouls; witches and wizards; and swashbucklers and superheroes take over Lyme Street in search of candy … along with a reflection on Halloween by our journalist friend Linda Ahnert.

The Halloween Party at LYSB drew lions, Little Red Riding Hoods, Dorothy’s and everything in between! We’re pretty sure that’s Max Garvin inside the lion costume on the left! Photo by Missy Colburn Garvin.

Hooray for Halloween!
By Linda Ahnert

For those of us who grew up in the 1950s, Halloween was a big blast. We decked the school halls with jack-o’-lanterns and black cats. We sang holiday hymns about creepy moonlit nights, sleeping shadows, and ghostly shapes without heads. But most of all, we dreamed about what we were going “to be” for Halloween. What kid doesn’t like to play “make believe” and become a queen for a night or perhaps the bride of Dracula?

Lyme Academy of Fine Arts opened its doors to display a sea of pumpkins decorated by students from Lyme-Old Lyme Schools. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Then there was the trick or treating itself. After donning the nifty costumes our moms had made for us, we headed out to ring doorbells and collect candy. Furtive little groups of us would pass each other in the night as we crisscrossed our Ozzie and Harriet neighborhood. And we would pass along snippets of information—when we learned that the new family on our street was handing out candy apples, we would make a beeline there.

Also attending the LYSB Halloween Party were this Superhero and friend. Photo by Missy Colburn Garvin.

But not too many years after we baby boomers had retired from ringing doorbells, the holiday itself entered a twilight zone. Those were the days when you heard true horror stories of kids finding razor blades in their candy. Real life had become a lot scarier and parents would accompany children as they went from house to house. And certainly no one would dare to knock on the door of a stranger.

Student-decorated pumpkins were also on display outside Lyme Academy. Photo by Suzanne Thompson.

Which is why it’s great to see that in recent years Halloween has once again become big-time fun. People are festooning their houses with orange lights and decorating their lawns with goblins and other gruesome creatures. Pages in mail order catalogs are devoted to all the latest trends in Halloween décor and costuming. Turn on the TV at this time of year and you will see ads for “Halloween Headquarters” at Kmart or “Spooky Central” at Wal-Mart.

Millie Cameron — dressed as a jelly fish, who is the daughter of Lyme-Old Lyme High School varsity boys’ soccer coach Ally Gleason — was out on the town with Mom (right) last night. Photo by Martha Quaratella.

Today you can purchase all kinds of items to get in touch with your inner ghoul. Everything from Hitchcockian crows to cauldrons equipped with foggers to create a bubbling witch’s brew. And, if you’re hosting a “monster” Halloween party, don’t forget the ice cubes that glow bright orange. Or the CD’s of haunted house music to create an eerie ambience.

Sorry, but we just couldn’t resist publishing another photo of little Millie Cameron — the absolutely cutest jellyfish in town! Photo by Martha Quaratella.

Yes, there’s no doubt that Halloween has gone to a whole new level. So why should kids have all the fun? Nowadays, adults are also donning costumes and getting in on the act. One year I had a dental appointment on Oct. 31. I arrived at the dentist’s office to find the women employees all decked out in costumes. My favorite was the 30-something receptionist outfitted as a teenager from the 1950s complete with poodle skirt and pony tail.

Plenty of fun for the adults too at the LYSB Halloween Party! Photo by Missy Colburn Garvin.

In our neck of the woods, we don’t have to go far to get into the spirit of the season. Take a stroll through the Pumpkin Patch at Scotts Yankee Farmer in East Lyme.  Or drive to Mystic Seaport for “Nautical Nightmares” and listen to maritime ghost stories as you walk through the darkened village. Not to mention that our own village of Old Lyme is transformed into a magical place on Allhallows Eve. Children trick or treat their way along Lyme Street in costumes that range from the scary to the sublime.

It’s Halloween—just like the ones I used to know.

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Lyme Land Trust Offers Nature Walk for Families with Young Children, Nov. 17

LYME, CT — Explore Banningwood Preserve with Kim Hargrave of Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Sunday, Nov. 17, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Banningwood Preserve, 9 Town Street, Lyme, CT.

Join members of the Lyme Land Trust for a family walk geared for young children. Along the way, explore rock outcroppings, notice changes of the season and search for creatures getting ready for winter.

Everyone is welcome for this free event.

A view of the Lyme Land Trust’s Banningwood Preserve.

Kim Hargrave is Education Director of Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center. The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, located in Mystic CT, is a combination wildlife sanctuary, natural history museum, and educational facility highlighting the habitats of southeastern Connecticut.

Reservations appreciated at Education@lymelandtrust.com

For more information, visit http://www.lymelandtrust.org/event/family-nature-walk-with-kim-hargrave/

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