November 14, 2019

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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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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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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“Indispensable, Advocate for All” Cathy Frank Says Fond Farewell to “Perfect Job at the Perfect Place”

At Friday’s celebrations of her retirement after 22 years at Old Lyme Town Hall, Cathy Frank prepares to cut the cake made in her honor. All photos by Mary Jo Nosal except where indicated.

OLD LYME — It was a day filled with joyful memories and deep emotions as colleagues and friends — some who had traveled from far afield — gathered at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall to say farewell to Cathy Frank at the conclusion of her more than 22 years service as Executive Assistant to the First Selectman/woman.

More than 60 people assembled in the Town Hall Meeting Room for a light lunch and to hear speeches celebrating the woman who has had her finger on the pulse of Town Hall for so many years.

Cathy Frank (left) stands with Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder. Photo by Patti Meyers.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder reminded the audience that back in 1997, when Frank first started working on a temporary basis at town hall, “Bill Clinton was President, John Rowland was Governor, Tim Griswold was First Selectman of Old Lyme … Hit movies from that year were Titanic, As Good as it Gets and Men in Black. Top songs were Candle in the Wind by Elton John, Foolish Games by Jewel, and Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down by Puff Daddy.”

Reemsnyder added, “As Cathy is a fan of the theater, she could probably tell you that The Lion King, 1776 and The Scarlet Pimpernel opened on Broadway that year.”

The cake says it all!

Raising ripples of laughter around the room, Reemsnyder then noted with a broad smile, “… and we were still using typewriters in Town Hall!”

Reemsnyder then  went on to describe how, “In our world at Town Hall, Cathy subtly started working her way into our hearts. Beginning as a part time employee, she was as willing then, as she is now, to help anyone. Over the years, she befriended each of us, including those who are no longer here with us, Treasurer Bea Maclean, Registrar Pat McCarthy, and Town Clerk Irene Carnell. Many of us recall Cathy sitting with Bea poring over the financials and assisting in recording the information when Bea’s eyesight was a challenge.”

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder reads from the long list of Cathy Frank’s accomplishments!

Over the years, Reemsnyder explained, Frank’s hours and duties increased, and she became, “The go-to person for so many things.” Reading from a list that unfurled to reach the floor, Reemsnyder went through some of the projects on which Frank had worked over the years including, “[being a member of] the original IT committee to bring everyone into the computer age … designing a training program that would really work … designing (along with her colleague and close friend Michele Hayes) the Selectman’s office renovations to best provide for the needs of a busy office, resulting in an efficient, functional and beautiful office space … and creating some of the most entertaining and touching tributes and proclamations to others through her renowned writing skills.”

Many Town Hall employees joined the celebrations including Town Clerk Vicki Urbowicz (center.)

Reemsnyder commented that Frank’s, “Writing skills also came in handy for newsletters, press releases and announcements, earning her another duty as Public Information Officer for Emergency Management.”

According to Reemsnyder, “Cathy embraced new technology, but empathized with others on their fear of computers, thus many staff members would go to her with their questions, and she would patiently assist them,” adding, “Cathy has willingly been trained on many topics, including FOI regulations, RFP/RFQ training, Cyber Security, Social Media in Government, and she even wrote a Guidebook for members of Boards, Commissions and Committees – keeping many of us out of trouble!”

Cathy Frank (left) shares a smile with her current boss, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The well-known and ever-popular candy jar on Frank’s desk even drew a mention when Reemsnyder noted, “It is a source of stress relief for all of us in Town Hall – and while you are there, you can have a seat and unload your troubles.” Moreover, Frank has advocated tirelessly for students, organizations, special needs, and every member of town hall Reemsnyder explained, “… with her favorite words being “You can do it,” “You will be alright,” and “Everything will be fine.”

All smiles! Former Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold (R) and current First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (D) stand happily together to celebrate Cathy Frank’s retirement despite the fact Griswold is challenging Reemsnyder to regain his former position in the upcoming Nov. 5 election.

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, for whom Frank worked during her first 14 years in town hall spoke next and recalled with clear affection that during his tenure, Frank was his “Radar O’Reilley,” alluding, as he explained, to the TV series MASH in which, “the Colonel’s quartermaster anticipated events for the Colonel and kept him on the right path.”

He also noted to smiles that, “her desk was always a mess — just like mine,” but he felt, however, that they were “Kindred spirits” because, ” Not withstanding, we both could find things!”

Griswold also recalled as further evidence of her caring personality, “Cathy liked cats, including the town hall cats, and even helped care for them from time to time.”  He concluded by wishing her, “All success in the next chapter of her life.”

Cathy Frank (center) stands with long-time colleague Michele Hayes (left) and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Hayes, who has worked closely with Frank throughout Frank’s time in town hall, told LymeLine that she is going to miss her dear friend endlessly.  She said, “We’ve been through so much together, our kids went to Lad & Lassie [pre-school] together, she [Frank] was my daughter’s Girl Scout leader, we’ve slept in tents, on museum floors, you name it … together. When you have a problem, she just takes care of things — she’ll help anyone, she’s such a smart person.”

Hayes chuckled when she said that there was actually one good thing coming out of Frank’s retirement, which was that they would be able to have lunch together now — something they haven’t been able to do for 22 years since they have always had to cover the front desk at town hall for each other during their respective lunch-breaks!

Various members of Frank’s family were in attendance at her retirement event including her husband, Kurt Zemba, and also one of her sons, Chris, who is pictured here with his girlfriend, chatting with First Selectwoman Reemsnyder.

Reemsnyder summed up the universal feeling in the room when she said, ” The essence of Cathy Frank has never changed over the last 22 years. She is still the highly intelligent, respected, patient, kind, funny and supportive person that joined the Town Hall crew in 1997.”  The change Reemsnyder did see was that Frank had “defied the saying that “No one is Indispensable” because we are all convinced that you are!”

Cathy Frank says her thank you’s and farewells. Photo by Michele Hayes.

Frank was presented with gifts, cards and a citation from the State of Connecticut declaring Oct. 11, as “Cathy Frank Day.”

By now a clearly emotional Frank started to speak but almost immediately had to request a tissue. She began again saying, “Thank you all for so much kindness over the years that I could not begin to describe. I will miss you all so much. The best thing about this job has been meeting all of you, working with all of you, doing things with all of you.  It really has been a perfect job.”

She went on to explain that she thought her first job out of college at a book publisher’s — since she an English major — had been the perfect job and it “broke my heart when I had to leave.” Then she became a town reporter and concluded that was the perfect job, and again it had broken her heart when she left, but finally she had come to Old Lyme Town Hall and now, without question, found the absolute perfect job.
Frank commented to much laughter that it was “totally unexpected” because she, “… was just filling in until they hired someone,” but said it was now definitely, “the hardest to leave because it had been the longest.”

With her voice breaking and full of heartfelt emotion, she concluded, “This has been a perfect job in a perfect place … and I thank you all so much.”

Editor’s Note: We would like to take the opportunity to echo much of what was said today about Cathy and add our own good wishes to her on her retirement.  She has been one of the strongest advocates and supporters of LymeLine.com over the past 16 years and we thank her most sincerely for that.

 

On a personal note, I must thank Cathy for her unfailing support during so many projects and ventures (and adventures!) in which we found ourselves working together under the various umbrellas of the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival, and Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, to name but a few.  As others have said, she was always there, always pitching in, always encouraging and just a wonderful friend and confidante to have at all times.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Cathy, and enjoy your retirement … you deserve it!
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Another Update on EEE From Old Lyme First Selectwoman Reemsnyder

As was announced on Friday by Ledge Light Health District, the Dept. of Agriculture trapped mosquitoes in Lyme and Old Lyme which ultimately tested positive for the Triple E virus. Many of the mosquitoes were the bird-biting mosquitoes, but some were mammalian-biting mosquitoes – thus the risk to humans.

This week, on a conference call with the Dept. of Public Health (DPH), the Dept. of Agriculture, local officials, and state legislators, the experts who are dealing with this crisis provided some additional information on the timeline of the cases that have been confirmed, which now numbers four in the State of CT, three of which have been fatal.

Each of these cases are believed to be from mosquito bites in early September or late August, as the onset of the symptoms takes up to 10 days, and the delay in confirmation adds to that time.

The DPH still believes that ground spraying is not effective considering the time of year, as the population of mosquitos is declining due to the cool nights.

With that said, some of the state legislators on the call requested that DPH work with the Governor’s office to identify resources for spraying, should it become necessary, as not all towns have resources to provide spraying. There was discussion about the need for spraying next year, in case there are more positive results on mosquitos at that time.

Considering the recommendation, the Town of Old Lyme will not be doing any spraying, but will stay informed on this issue.

As recommended by Ledge Light Health District, here are best practices for avoiding mosquito bites:

  • Be sure door and window screens are tight fitting and in good repair.
  • While outdoors, wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts. Clothing material should be tightly woven.
  • Use mosquito netting if sleeping outdoors.
  • Consider using mosquito repellent when it is necessary to be outdoors and always use them according to label instructions. The most effective repellents contain DEET or Picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is also effective for brief periods of exposure.
  • When using DEET, use the lowest concentration effective for the time spent outdoors (for example, 6% lasts approximately 2 hours and 20% for 4 hours)  and wash treated skin when returning indoors. Do not apply under clothing, to wounds or irritated skin, the hands of children, or to infants less than 2 months.

Measures to reduce mosquitoes around the home include:

  • Dispose of water-holding containers, such as ceramic pots, used tires, and tire swings, clogged gutters.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of containers such as those used for recycling.
  • Change water in bird baths on a weekly basis.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, and cover pools when not in use.
  • Use landscaping to eliminate areas where water can collect on your property.

Additional resources for information on EEE and mosquito management can be found at [ http://www.ct.gov/mosquito/site/default.asp ]http://www.ct.gov/mosquito…

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Deadline to Complete Survey on Economic Status, Future of Old Lyme, Sept. 27; Open to all Residents, Business Owners/Operators in Town

OLD LYME —The Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC)  reminds all residents of the town and anyone who operates a business here to complete their online survey regarding the current economic condition of our town. The deadline for submitting responses is Friday, Sept. 27. The survey is available by scanning the QR code at left or visiting: www.research.net/r/OldLymeCT

The EDC would like to understand how you view the Town’s current economic condition and hear your ideas for the future. For example, the EDC wants to know what attracts both residents and business to Old Lyme, and the important issues facing the town from your perspective. For business owners, the EDC wants to hear how the Town can better support you now and in the future. The survey results, combined with other ongoing initiatives, will help define the Town’s economic development strategy.

All responses will be kept confidential, with results presented in a final report by the EDC. The Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), a nonprofit economic development firm, will collect survey results, carry out the analysis, and prepare the final report.

Asked for his reaction to the increased attention being directed to economic development in Old Lyme, Halls Road Improvement Committee Chairman BJ Bernblum responded, ” “The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen is taking seriously the economic health of the town.  A few years ago it formed the Halls Road Improvements Committee and this year it revitalized the Economic Development Commission.” He continued, “Under the dynamic leadership of co-chairs Howard Margules and Justin Fuller, the EDC is working with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center to analyze the current state of Old Lyme’s economy and to recommend ways to ensure a sound future.”

Bernblum added, “CERC’s first undertaking is a town-wide survey of businesses and residents, critical to getting an accurate understanding of how our taxpayers feel about the status quo and the issues that need to be addressed,” concluding, “I strongly encourage everyone to complete this survey.”

Editor’s Note: Read our previous article at this link to understand more fully the mission and goals of the Old Lyme EDC.

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Letter to the Editor: Failure to Undertake Full Financial Review of Old Lyme’s Sewer Project Will Result in Unexpected Costs

To the Editor:

To understand the negative impact the proposed sewer project will have on future cost to Old Lyme property owners, one must first understand the future development plans of the towns that will share the system.

Old Lyme’s future development plans do not include any major expansion of residential or commercial projects. The chairman of Old Lyme’s Water Pollution Control Authority (WPCA) has stated there is no plan to extend sewers into neighborhoods other than those under order of Department of Environmental Protection (DEEP).

East Lyme’s future development plans include major residential and commercial projects, many of which are underway. The towns of Waterford and New London also  plan major expansion projects.

An article in The Day newspaper in July, 2018 quoted East Lyme’s first selectman praising the sewer agreement that allows Old Lyme’s private beach associations to connect to their sewer system. He stated it was important to have a partner that will share the costs to upgrade their sewer system.

East Lyme’s WPCA has stated that any future development will require substantial upgrades to their existing system. Waterford and New London officials have expressed these same concerns. All this will come at costs to Old Lyme sewer users.

It is noteworthy that Old Lyme town officials had no direct involvement in the terms of the sewer agreement between the town of East Lyme and the private beaches, yet Old Lyme will bear the costs once the town enters into this agreement, that is the current plan.

Old Lyme’s voters were misled about the details of the sewer project prior to the 9.4 million dollar referendum this past September. Approving funding for a project of this scope without a financial review of all relevant documents and agreements was negligence on the part of Old Lyme’s Board of Finance (BOF). The losers here are the residents of Soundview, who will be burdened with an unknown financial impact thanks to the failure of a proper project review by the town officials who we elect to act in our best interest.

Sincerely,

William Folland,
Old Lyme.

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Update From Old Lyme Town Hall Regarding Eastern Equine Encephalitis

OLD LYME — The following e-mail was sent out from Old Lyme Town Hall at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday evening.

A message from First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder:

Today we learned that a resident of Old Lyme has become the second victim of the mosquito-borne illness, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or the Triple-E virus. The Town of Old Lyme sends heartfelt condolences to the family of the victim. While we do not have the identity of the person at this time, I am sure that the loss is felt by all of the residents of Old Lyme.

Many have asked what the Town is doing with this threat in mind, so here is an update:

The Selectman’s Office has been in regular contact with Ledge Light Health District, has participated in scheduled conference calls with the State Dept. of Public Health, which provides updates on tests and recommendations, and is following all of the recommendations to date. The next conference call is scheduled for this Thursday.

Since Friday of last week, we have warned all outdoor sports activities to end by 5:30 PM (which may get earlier as the days grow shorter) and warned people to move indoors well before dusk.

We post all updates from Ledge Light Health District on our website.

The Town currently contracts with Innovative Mosquito to manage our plan to address nuisance mosquitos, which are primarily daytime-biting mosquitos. We regularly use non-chemical dunks in our catch basins, and monitor the mosquito population along the marshland of the shoreline neighborhoods. When warranted, backpack adulticide spraying is done to reduce the population. But these daytime-biting mosquitos have not tested positive for EEE virus. It is the night time mosquitos that have tested positive, and so far, none of the mosquitos tested from Old Lyme have been positive for the virus.

With the latest victim from Old Lyme, our contractor has increased trapping in the freshwater areas of town to assess the population, and the State Dept. of Agriculture has done the same, testing those caught for the virus. Those results are not yet available, but based on the outcome, recommendations will be made and followed by us.

If spraying is recommended, we will follow up immediately, and are prepared to do so.

We continue to stay in touch with our Health District and the State Dept. of Health, and will follow all recommendations that they give us.

We urge all residents to take this threat seriously, and take all precautions to avoid mosquitos.

Once again, our heartfelt condolences are sent to the family whose loved one has succumbed to this tragic illness.

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Old Lyme EDC Hosts SWOT Workshop: All Town Residents, Business Owners, Employees Welcome to Participate

OLD LYME — If you live, work or own a business in Old Lyme, then you’re invited to a SWOT Analysis Workshop tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 21) morning at the Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and represents a technique frequently used in strategic business planning.  The Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) working with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) are using the technique with input from a variety of stakeholders to assist in determining the overarching goals, which will help guide the future economic development of Old Lyme.
 Working collaboratively, the two organizations are seeking to prioritize of efforts in three areas primarily, as follows
  1. Retaining existing businesses
  2. Attracting new investments (especially in available commercial properties that are presently abandoned and/or neglected)
  3. Promoting entrepreneurship — since local business owners, who live in Old Lyme, have a vested interest in the community.

The EDC is working closely with the Halls Road Improvement Committee (HRIC) to ensure the two groups work in tandem.  BJ Bernblum, HRIC Chairman, told LymeLine, ” “The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen is taking seriously the economic health of the town.  A few years ago it formed the Halls Road Improvements Committee and this year it revitalized the Economic Development Commission.” He continued, “The EDC is working with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center to analyze the current state of Old Lyme’s economy and to recommend ways to ensure a sound future.”

Bernblum also encouraged all Old Lyme residents and business owners or operators to complete the EDC survey at this link: www.research.net/r/OldLymeCT.  The deadline for completing the survey is Friday, Sept. 27.

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Old Lyme BOF Allocates $6,250 to Lyme Academy to Assist “Reinvention” Process

File photo of the Chandler Academic Center, which comprises part of the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. The new management of the Academy is considering renting out the Chandler building as office space.

OLD LYME— Deemed an economic development driver for the town, the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts this week was allocated $6,250 by the Board of Finance to help fund a “strategic plan” to reinvent itself as it moves forward without an affiliate.

The school had asked for $15,000.

Finance board Chairman Andy Russell said the allocation, approved in a unanimous vote, was only possible after his board discovered that leftover funds previously designated to the academy from last year’s budget were never awarded. He said the town typically allocated $12,500 to the academy annually, but …

Read the full article titled, Old Lyme gives art academy $6,250 as it reinvents itself, written by Mary Biekert and published Sept. 19 on theday.com.

 

 

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Old Lyme Closes on Land Purchase From McCulloch Family: 300 Acres Designated as Open Space, Six Acres as Affordable Housing

Gathered at the start of a recent hike are, from left to right, Old Lyme Land Trust Chairman Mike Kiernan, Old Lyme Open Space Commission Co-Chairman Amanda Blair and Land Steward Peter Norris. Blair, Open Space Commission Co-Chair William Dunbar (not in photo) and the members of the Commission were thanked by First Selectwoman Reemsnyder for their “hard work” related to the McCulloch land acquisition.

OLD LYME — (Press release from the Town of Old Lyme) The Town of Old Lyme has closed on the purchase of approximately 300 acres from David McCulloch/the Jean A. McCulloch Farm LLC effective Tuesday, Sept. 3.

The sale involved two parts – the purchase of land that is an addition to Town Open Space and the set-aside of two smaller areas to be reserved for potential affordable housing lots.

The Town paid $500,000 for the new open space, and $50,000 each for two three-acre areas off Flat Rock Hill Rd., adjacent to affordable housing lots previously given to the town by David McCulloch. If the two smaller areas are not developed as affordable housing within five years, they will revert to open space and be added to the new Open Space parcel.

The property was first assembled by Rook and Warren McCulloch in 1929, and their heirs had overlapping interests. The Vasiloff family re-configured their renowned Morgan horse farm, and moved and re-installed equine fencing before the closing. The Town’s Open Space Commission worked closely with The Nature Conservancy, which holds a conservation easement on the property, to ensure the sale specifics met their approval.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder commented, “We commend the McCulloch family for their foresight in protecting the land and for their decades of loving stewardship. This new open space will be a treasure for town residents.”

She commended members of the Open Space Commission for “their hard work on the acquisition of this beautiful property with its special ecological importance as part of the upper watershed of the Black Hall River and linkage to our tidal marshes.”

The Open Space Commission will now partner with the Old Lyme Land Trust to map, develop and mark three trails within the McCulloch Family Open Space, with a new “Tree in the Gap” trail likely to be accessible first from Whippoorwill Road. Volunteers are welcome to join in this final step to make the property safely accessible. Help will be needed to remove old fencing and invasive plants, and to install map kiosks, gates and signage. Persons interested in lending a hand should contact the Open Space Commission via email at OpenSpaceCommission@oldlyme-ct.gov.

Upon completion of this work, a ceremony/trail inauguration will be scheduled to officially open the property to the public.

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Breaking News: HOPE, Women’s Institute Withdraw Controversial Old Lyme Affordable Housing Application

OLD LYME — The developers who proposed a contentious 37-unit housing development on Neck Road near Interstate 95 said Wednesday they are withdrawing their application with the town’s zoning commission in an effort to relocate the project elsewhere in town and to avoid a potentially costly court battle.

In a letter addressed to Zoning Commission Chairwoman Jane Cable, … Read the full story in an article by Mary Biekert published on theday.com today, Aug. 28, at this link.

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Old Lyme Officer Recognized by Board of Selectmen for Quick Response

Officer Rankin pursued the car into Lyme, and ultimately East Haddam, apprehending all four when they stopped for gas. The selectmen believed that had he not responded immediately, it is likely the fugitives would have succeeded in escaping justice.

After expressing her thanks to Officer Rankin, First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder commented, “It is because of Police Officers like you that Old Lyme continues to be a safe place for us all.”

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Reemsnyder Firmly Denies Wrongdoing at CT Port Authority, Explains Absence at Transportation Hearing

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

OLD LYME — As has been widely reported, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder did not appear in person at the state Transportation Committee’s hearing regarding the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) on Tuesday.

She did, however, submit written testimony (published in full at the link below) in which she stated categorically in reference to the purchase by the CPA of photographs from her daughter, “Consistent with the State’s Ethics Code governing conflicts of interest, I had no involvement in any aspect of the sale, including no role in the initial decision, negotiations, payment, bookkeeping, or accounting for the transaction, and I did not benefit in any way financially from the transaction.”

Reemsnyder gave LymeLine.com the following explanation for her absence from the hearing in an e-mail Wednesday evening, in which she said, “I received the “invitation to attend” on Sunday night, as I was away the weekend, and the Town was committing to a bond for the Library. On Tuesday, I had to coordinate the signatures of the Term Sheet to secure the rate that was offered in a bid. So between reviewing the term sheet documents, accepting changes from the bank, and coordinating with the Treasurer for signatures, it tied up my morning.”

She continued, “In addition, I had an afternoon meeting that was already scheduled, and a Board of Finance meeting that night, which I take a considerable time to prepare for,” adding, “I did take the time on Monday, a day that I had a 4 PM Board of Selectmen meeting that I carefully prepare for, to articulate my written testimony.”

Visit this link to read Reemsnyder’s written testimony to the Transportation Committee.

 

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Sound View Sewer Vote in Old Lyme Passes by Over 300 Votes, Pappalardo Says Schism Created: Sound View vs the Town

OLD LYME — The Sound View Sewer Project in Old Lyme passed comfortably by 883 votes to 565, after all votes were double-counted in Tuesday’s referendum. The proposal therefore secured a margin of 318 votes with 61 percent voting in favor of bonding $9.44 million to fund the proposed sewer project and 39 percent voting against.  A total of 1448 residents and/or property owners voted representing less than 30 percent of registered voters.

After the result had been announced, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder commented, “I think the people spoke and it is time to move on to next steps. We made sure that everyone had a chance to vote with a full day of a referendum, absentee ballots available and several public info sessions.”

Sound View Commission Chairman Frank Pappalardo. File photo.

Asked for his reaction to the result, Frank Pappalardo, who is chair of Old Lyme’s Sound View Commission and a director of the Sound View Beach Association, Inc., told LymeLine.com in an email, “Today’s referendum vote in favor of a $9.5 mil bond for sewers is disappointing. I believe that many in Old Lyme were not aware complexities regarding the sewer issue facing Old Lyme and specifically the Sound View area.”

He added, “The cost recovery method of placing the entire burden on a small group of property owners is unprecedented. And to further the concerns are the unrealistic individual property owner costs in excess of $15,000 and reaching over $100,000 for some.”

Pappalardo concluded, “We’ve work so hard to unify the town and beach community and have made great strides. Now with this vote we have created a schism: Sound View vs the Town. And set in motion a number of legal challenges.  There must be a way to find common ground and make this work for all in Old Lyme.”

For a fuller account of the implications of the referendum, read Mary Biekert’s article titled, “Old Lyme voters approve $9.44 million Sound View sewer project,” published this evening on theday.com.

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Old Lyme Residents Vote in Referendum Today on Sound View Sewer Project

The Cross Lane Polling Station in Old Lyme open at 6 a.m.

Old Lyme voters go to the polls today to vote in a town-wide referendum on whether the Town should appropriate $9.5 million to fund the proposed sewer project in the Sound View neighborhood.

The question on the ballot is: “Shall the Town of Old Lyme appropriate $9,500,000 for construction of the Sound View and Miscellaneous Town Area B Sewer Project and authorize the issuance of bonds, notes and other obligations to finance said appropriation? ” The response options are simply Yes or No.

The Cross Lane Polling Station opens at 6 a.m. today and closes at 8 p.m. Voters must present identification in order to vote.

We will publish the result here on LymeLine.com very shortly after their announcement.

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Letter to the Editor: Sound View Sewers? Town Funding Not Justified, But Consider Other Alternatives

To the Editor:

A group of Sound View property owners are voicing strong opinions regarding the funding for the proposed sewer system for Sound View, specifically why it is not considered a public works project to be funded by all Old Lyme taxpayers rather than just Sound View property owners.

In my opinion the distinction is simple. The Old Lyme taxpayers receive no benefit from the sewers for Sound View properties and have no right to access or use those private properties. Only the Sound View owners benefit and can use their properties so only they must pay for the improvement.

I think that the Sound View folks should aim their efforts in the way Merv Roberts has suggested for decades. Pressure DEEP to approve alternative on site septic systems being used in other states instead of installing sewers. Only properties tested and found to be in need of new systems would have to install them and the cost would likely be substantially less that the proposed sewer assessments and maintenance costs. The technology is available and only the “empire builders” at DEEP are refusing to consider alternatives to sewers. They mandate sewers with little or no empirical data and testing.

I’m sure that other property owners, such as those in Hawk’s Nest and elsewhere (Rogers Lake?) would gladly join the effort with Sound View to insist upon proper testing and the use of alternative septic systems.

Sincerely,

Steven A. Ross,
Old Lyme.

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Griswold Gathers Over 200 Signatures on Petition to Run as Republican First Selectman in November, State Requires 84

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold

Old Lyme Republican Registrar Cathy Carter

OLD LYME — Former Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy C. Griswold has collected more than 200 signatures on petitions requesting his name be added to the ballot in September as the Republican candidate for First Selectman. Griswold gave the number to LymeLine in an email conversation Sunday and added that there are more petitions out in the community, which he has not picked up yet.

He said he plans to give all the petitions to the Old Lyme Republican Registrar Cathy Carter this afternoon.  She told LymeLine on Friday by phone that once she has received the petitions, she must review each signature to verify it, checking that the person is a legitimate member of the Republican party.

To demonstrate what sometimes happens when people believe they are registered Republicans but, in fact, turn out not to be, Carter gave the example of someone who may have moved out of Old Lyme, then returned, but forgot to re-register their name with the party.

Carter told LymeLine she must submit the petitions and verified signatures to the state by Wednesday, Aug. 7. According to the state’s rules, Griswold needs signatures from five percent of the approximately 1680 registered Republicans in Old Lyme, so the minimum number of signatures required is around 84.

Carter added that a Republican Primary would not be required in September since the Republicans did not endorse anyone for First Selectman in the slate that they have already submitted.  Chris Kerr was endorsed for a second term as Selectman by the Republicans and Griswold has indicated he will campaign with Kerr if he is successful in his efforts to be on the ballot.

See this article, Griswold Petition to Run on November Ballot as Old Lyme First Selectman Has More Than 80 of 85 Signatures Required, Expects to Meet Goal by Tonight, published on LymeLine Aug. 2, for more information.

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