May 14, 2021

Town of Lyme Holds Annual Budget Meeting Outdoors, Wednesday: Major Issue is Size of Town’s Open Space Fund

LYME — The Town of Lyme will hold its Annual Budget Meeting Wednesday, May 19, at 5 p.m., in person and outside Lyme Town Hall at 480 Hamburg Rd. in Lyme.

Due to COVID restrictions, attendees are requested to bring a folding chair or umbrella if needed. Masks must be worn, and social distancing is required.

The proposed budget can be viewed at this link.

The following agenda items will be discussed and may be voted on:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of the Town of Lyme Annual Reports for the Fiscal Years ending June 30, 2019 and June 30, 2020.
  2. Consider and act on an Ordinance to repeal and replace Town of Lyme Code 157-23(c) to adjust the process for applying for mooring permits in the waters of the Town of Lyme.
  3. Consider and act on an Ordinance concerning the appointment of the Treasurer.
  4. Consider and act on a Resolution accepting North Lyme Cemetery and the assets of the North Lyme Cemetery Association.
  5. Consider and act on a Resolution to require the Board of Finance to set a minimum goal of $1,000,000 for the Open Space Reserve Fund.
  6. Consider and act on estimates of the Board of Finance for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2022.

Concern have been raised both directly with LymeLine.com, via email announcements, and on social media regarding the decision by the Lyme Board of Finance to reduce the Town’s Open Space Reserve Fund by 50 percent from $1 million to $500,000.

On April 27, around 60 people attended the board of finance’s virtual Public Hearing on the budget to express their concerns verbally, while a number of others wrote letters that were read into the record.

A subsequent board of finance Special Meeting held April 29, confirmed the reduction in the size of the fund. Since then several groups have been actively spreading awareness of the change to their members and other townspeople.

First Selectman Steven Mattson has introduced a Resolution requiring the board of finance to set a minimum goal of $1 million for the Open Space Reserve Fund. This Resolution will be voted on during Wednesday’s meeting.

 

Old Lyme’s Annual Town Budget Meeting to be Held In Person Monday, No Virtual Option on Offer

OLD LYME — The Town of Old Lyme will hold its Annual Town Budget Meeting in person only on Monday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall at 52 Lyme St., The following agenda items will be discussed:

  1. To adopt the Budget for the fiscal year July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, as recommended by the Board of Finance.
  2. To adopt a proposal that taxes in the Town of Old Lyme on Real Estate and Personal Property shall be paid in two (2) semi-annual installments, the first payment being due on July 1, 2021 and the second payment on January 1, 2022.  Any tax in these categories under $100.00 will be due in full in one payment in July, 2021, as are vehicles on Supplemental List due in July, 2022 in one payment.

A vote will likely then be taken to approve both items.

Old Lyme EDC Recommends Declaration of Zoning Approval Moratorium on Halls Rd. Projects

OLD LYME — The following resolution was approved by seven members present at the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission’s regular monthly meeting held Wednesday, May 5. One member, Margaret Jane DeRisio, abstained citing a possible conflict of interest.

The Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC) is tasked with supporting and encouraging a vibrant and sustainable business climate in Old Lyme, scaled to the resources and needs of the town. We seek the optimum development of business opportunities in Old Lyme. The mix of businesses in a particular area such as Halls Road can have a significant impact on the climate for all businesses there, current and future. Planning, therefore, becomes important. 

Because Halls Road connects the northbound and southbound halves of Exit 70 on I-95, its current commercial-only zoning makes it most attractive (in the current business climate) to regional and national chains whose businesses are aimed at highway traffic, and not at the needs of our small town. 

For decades Old Lyme’s planning documents have explicitly said the town should give preference to businesses that support the needs of the town and discourage those aimed at servicing I-95 traffic. They have sought to prevent Halls Road from becoming a series of truck stops and fast-food venues. 

Halls Road has only a limited space that can ever be developed. The town should do what it can to ensure that this limited area is developed in such a way as to best serve the needs of the town and its businesses, present and future. Each new development has an impact on the range of possible future developments. If the Halls Road plan calls for mixed use in a walkable, bicycle-friendly, town-center environment, then each new development in that area must support that long-term goal. Any step in a contrary direction (e.g. toward truck stops, warehouses, factories, big-box stores, etc.) works to prevent the accomplishment of the long-term goal, and should be prohibited or strongly discouraged in this area. These contrary developments are not just sub-optimal uses of a limited resource (buildable land). Their presence significantly reduces the chance of getting the investments we do seek in that area: a mix of smaller-scale market-rate housing combined with shops and restaurants that serve the population of Old Lyme. 

The Halls Road plan is near completion. The next phase includes changing the zoning along Halls Road to reflect the goals of the plan. This will give future investors a clear sense of what types of development are encouraged along Halls Road and which types are not. Clarity is good for business. If Old Lyme does the planning and zoning work correctly, it will attract the kinds of investment we want, and help transform Halls Road into a sustainable, mixed-use, commercial area more in keeping, both visually and functionally, with the small town feel of Old Lyme. Bad developments today obstruct more and better investments in the future. Today, investors interested in mixed-use developments like those envisioned in the town’s plan cannot consider Halls Road because it is zoned “commercial-only.” They are not allowed to compete with truck stops or storage warehouses for the limited property there.

We think it would be wise to declare a moratorium on zoning approvals for projects along Halls Road, effective immediately, pending the completion of the Halls Road plan and any new zoning regulations based on it. It is not fair to our town or to investors to move forward with projects while the rules are in flux. We cannot support near-term projects that would work to prevent or degrade future developments of higher long-term value.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Proposed Budget Passes Easily in Both Towns

LYME/OLD LYME — UPDATED 5/7: The Lyme-Old Lyme Schools proposed $34.87 million budget for 2021-22 was approved by a wide margin of 273 votes Tuesday, with a combined total of 328 Lyme and Old Lyme residents voting for the budgets and only a total of 55 across both towns voting against it.

The percentage of total voters supporting the budget was 85.6 and the number rejecting it was 14.4 percent.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser commented to LymeLine in an electronic message after the result had been announced, “Thank you to the Lyme and Old Lyme communities for their ongoing support of our schools. We could not achieve the level of success that we have without the support of our communities.”

He added, “Support for this budget will allow us to continue providing a top-notch education to the students of Lyme and Old Lyme.”

The results by town were as follows:
Old Lyme
For: 249
Against: 50

Lyme
For: 79
Against: 5

The town numbers above reflect voter turnout in Old Lyme at 4.99 percent based on a total number of 5,992 registered voters, while in Lyme the equivalent percentage was 4.24 based on 1,979 voters.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Hold Budget Referendum Today, Polls Open12-8pm; Griswold Urged BOE to ‘Skip Referendum’

LYME/OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Board of Education (BOE) are holding a referendum today, Tuesday, May 4, on their proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Voting will take place from 12 noon to 8 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School for Old Lyme residents and Lyme Town Hall for Lyme residents.

Information on absentee ballot and voter information is available at the following links:

Members of the BOE voted at the Budget Meeting held Monday evening to move the public vote to approve the budget to an in-person referendum scheduled for the following day.

The proposed budget totals $34,874, 548 representing a 0.47 percent increase over the current year’s budget. When this total is combined with last year’s decrease of 1.06 percent, the total change over two years is -0.6 percent or $210,210.

This is the first time in many years that the polls will not open until 12 noon — traditionally voting in both towns begins at 6 a.m.

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

Responding to a question from LymeLine questioning how this time change came about, Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold said by email, “I urged the School Board to vote the budget and skip the referendum because the budget is uncontroversial and actually has a slight decrease.”

He noted, however, “The School Board believes that it is more transparent to have an in person vote.”

Griswold went on to explain his viewpoint further, saying, “Old Lyme has about 400 voters (out of about 6,000) [who vote in the referendum, on average.] Usually, voting occurs during the hours of 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM or 14 hours. That translates to about 29 voters per hour in Old Lyme.”

He noted, “We need about 12 staff to run the polls so the Town would likely need about double that to run two shifts of about seven hours each.”

Adding, “Then, we need to have absentee ballots which means less in person voters.”

Griswold said, “In the end, we discovered this type of vote must be from noon to 8:00 PM or eight hours. Now we are up to about 50 voters per hour.”

“While the cost of running the voting in two towns is a School District expense,” Griswold pointed out, “the Towns fund the District so Old Lyme pays over 80% of the bill.”

In conclusion, he stated, “If the school budget were controversial, in person voting would make sense but this budget is not controversial. We shall see the how many people turn out.”

Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School will not be closed during voting hours — students will be following a regular school day.

Asked how voters would be kept separate from students and faculty during the period when polling station opening times overlap with school being in session, LOL Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser explained to LymeLine by email, “Voters will enter through the two exterior doors in the north corner of the gymnasium near the multi-purpose room.  They will use those same two doors to exit.  Their access will be limited to the gymnasium only.”

Neviaser said this new timing was initiated because, “the [Lyme-Old Lyme] Board [of Education] adjusted the time at the request of the Town of Old Lyme due to concerns regarding COVID.”

He continued, “Depending on how it goes this year we may consider this new time period for future referendums.  Many other regional school districts use the 12-8 [p.m.] time period.”

Neviaser concluded, “When using the school for voting, the change in time is beneficial in regard to visitor management.”

Halls Rd. Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal Continued to Old Lyme Inland Wetlands May Meeting

OLD LYME — Tonight’s scheduled Old Lyme Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC) meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. is going ahead as planned via Webex. The anticipated continuation of the Public Hearing related to the construction of a new convenience mart and gas station at the junction of 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd. will not, however, now take place.

According to a letter submitted to the IWWC by Alter Pearson LLC  (attorneys for the applicant), Big Y Foods/Tony Coppola (the applicant) has requested a continuation of the hearing, “to complete an analysis of an adjoining, off-site, wetland area and revise plans accordingly.”

Following usual procedure, it is expected that the continuation will be granted.

It is now anticipated that the Public Hearing will be included in the IWWC’s next meeting on Tuesday, May 25, when the hearing will likely be closed at its conclusion and the Commission may then take a vote on the proposal at that time.

Alternatively, the commission may defer their vote until a later date.

Visit this link to view the agenda for tonight’s meeting, which includes all the details regarding how to join the meeting via computer or phone.

Visit this link to read our article on the March IWWC meeting when the Public Hearing on the proposed gas station and convenience store was opened.

Visit this link to read a statement from the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee requesting the withdrawal of the proposed gas station/convenience store.

Lyme Board of Finance Hosts Virtual Public Hearing Tonight on Proposed 2021-22 Budget, Concerns Raised About Open Space Fund Goal

LYME — The Lyme Board of Finance hosts a virtual Public Hearing this evening at 6:30 p.m. on their proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. Requests for the Zoom link to access the meeting must be made before 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The proposed budget can be viewed at this link.

Concerns have been raised both directly with LymeLine.com and on social media regarding the reduction in the Town’s Open Space Fund goal by 50 percent.

Visit this link to see how to access the meeting and submit comments in advance of the meeting. Public comment will also be accepted during the meeting.

This link also includes the agenda for the meeting.

 

 

 

 

Halls Rd. Improvements Committee Hosts Ceremony to Celebrate Installation of New Benches, All Welcome

The new benches on the west abutment of the old bridge road off Halls Rd. A ceremony celebrating their installation will be held today.

OLD LYME — The Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) hosts a ceremony this afternoon, Saturday, April 24, at 1 p.m. to celebrate the installation of two, new park benches, which have been donated to the town for Halls Rd.

This map shows the area where the benches are located.

 The ceremony will be held on the west bridge abutment of the old bridge road off Halls Rd. The rain date is Saturday, May 1.

All are welcome — the HRIC is hoping for a large crowd!

Griswold Says Old Lyme’s Memorial Day Parade is “a Go” — No Parking on Street; Cemetery Ceremony Now Confirmed

Traditionally, the Lyme-Old Lyme High School leads Old Lyme’s Memorial Day Parade. File photo.

OLD LYME — UPDATED 4/21: At Monday’s Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting, First Selectman Timothy Griswold confirmed enthusiastically that the town’s annual Memorial Day parade would be held this year.

He had titled the agenda item regarding the parade, “It is a Go!”

Griswold said no parking would be permitted on Lyme St. or McCurdy Rd. to allow the bands and marchers to spread out more, but apart from that, planning would for the parade would now continue in the normal manner.

Griswold anticipated that individuals watching the parade would take the necessary action to maintain social distancing protocols.

We are still trying to confirm whether the traditional ceremony will be

4/21 UPDATE: First Selectman Griswold has now confirmed to us that the traditional ceremony held at the conclusion of the parade in Duck River Cemetery will take place this year. He also noted that, as usual, the May 31 parade will start at 11 a.m. 

 

Old Lyme Holds Public Hearing on Proposed Town Budget for 2021-22

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Board of Finance will hold a Public Hearing on the Proposed Town Budget for the  2021/22 financial year this evening, Monday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall of the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme.

The meeting can also be accessed by phone. Dial +1-408-418-9388 and enter access code 247 358 82.

The proposed date for voting on the budget will be Monday, May 17, at a Town Meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Resolution on Racism Raised Again in Old Lyme BOS; No Progress Made, ‘Nothing to Discuss’ (Selectman Kerr)

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

***COMMENTING ON THIS ARTICLE IS CLOSED***Our apologies to those who  submitted comments after they were closed. We had not set the ‘Comments Closed’ option correctly — that has now been resolved. 

OLD LYME — The subject of the Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis was again raised at the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting held this past Monday, April 5.

It came up first in Public Comment when George Clough of Old Lyme called in and said, “I want to ask the board of selectmen why the Resolution on Racism has not been acted upon.”

First Selectman Timothy Griswold (R) responded, saying, “I don’t subscribe to the idea that we have a public health crisis in Old Lyme.” He added that he felt the Resolution was written in a very negative way and “that it characterizes the townspeople” and “I just don’t buy it.”

Clough challenged Griswold’s response, noting other municipalities had already approved the Resolution and then asking, “So you don’t feel the problem of the systemic nature of racism is evident in Old Lyme at all?”

Griswold replied, “I don’t justify what other towns do. I’m just giving you my opinion.”

He invited the other two members of the board to give their opinions. Selectman Christopher Kerr (R) said, “I have no comment,” while Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (D) noted she planned to speak to the issue in Other Business.

Clough continued, “As one resident, I’m not going to let this go unchallenged … We do have issues in this town and we need to address them.”

He added, “I would say that if we don’t, we’ll end up with a Planning Commission sending a letter to legislators saying that we want to keep the character of the town as it is and don’t support changes in zoning regulations regarding Affordable Housing.”

Clough stated firmly that he found the Old Lyme Planning Commission’s recent letter, “Offensive,” and told Griswold and the board, “If it’s your opinion that it’s not offensive, you’re not fully understanding the nature of the problem.”

He offered to sit down and discuss the issue on a one-to-one basis noting it was inappropriate to “tie up the phone line” during the meeting, but concluded by saying again, “This issue has not been brought to a vote and I’m asking why.”

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (File photo)

The board then moved to Other Business and Nosal followed up immediately with further comments on the Racism Resolution, expressing thanks to Clough for his support and reminding her fellow board members, “We’ve had many people calling in their support. People have come in [to do so] and a petition has been sent in.”

She noted that since August 2020, when she first mentioned the Resolution, she has been, “Requesting the board of selectmen to engage in a discussion to support the Resolution,” adding, “I’ve provided various versions [of the resolution] and lots of reading materials.”

Emphasizing that, “I have been sensitive to your concerns,” while mentioning that Griswold had, in fact, spoken at last year’s Black Lives Matter rally in Old Lyme, she said, “I hope we can have an open dialogue on it.”

Nosal noted, “CCM (Connecticut Conference of Municipalities) supports it. More than 21 towns have signed onto it. Our legislature is looking at it,” and then urged Griswold and Kerr to remember, “We don’t have to wait for a mandate.”

Saying, “We can show Old Lyme resolves to doing the work with the first step being to admit racism keeps people from enjoying the quality of life in Old Lyme,” she continued, “We should show a commitment to this goal by signing the Resolution and putting in place the time, effort and people to move forward.”

Noting that “So many people support this and are ready to help,” she said, “I’m asking the board to bring it up for a vote,’ adding that, as has been widely learned during the time of COVID, “We are all in this together.”

She invited Kerr and Griswold to discuss the matter.

Kerr responded, “I have nothing to discuss.”

Nosal said, “It’s really disappointing,” pointing out to her fellow board members that over the past eight months or so since she first brought attention to the matter, “Mostly I’ve talked … and you’ve ignored me. You haven’t been open to discussion,” commenting, “We can’t negotiate because we haven’t had a discussion.”

Stressing that she has been regularly raising the Resolution issue since last August, she concluded, “It’s been a long time. I will keep bringing it up, I will keep talking about it because by not signing it, we are on the wrong side of history.”

Editor’s Note: i) Nosal first raised the request at the Aug. 8, 2020 BOS meeting. It was not on the agenda at the Aug. 17 BOS meeting, but was discussed at the Sept. 8 BOS meeting and then again at the Sept. 22 BOS meeting.  Nosal raised the matter once more at both the Dec. 21 BOS meeting and the Jan. 4 BOS meeting.

ii) A draft of the Resolution is printed below for reference.

WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is interpersonal and/or internalized or systemic racism that is institutional or structural, and is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks;

WHEREAS race is a social construct with no biological basis; 

WHEREAS racism unfairly disadvantages specific individuals and communities, while unfairly giving advantages to other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources; 

WHEREAS racism is a root cause of poverty and constricts economic mobility; 

WHEREAS racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, employment, and criminal justice, and is itself a social determinant of health; 

WHEREAS racism and segregation have exacerbated a health divide resulting in people of color in Connecticut bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and mortality including COVID-19 infection and death, heart disease, diabetes, and infant mortality; 

WHEREAS Black, Native American, Asian and Latino residents are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of inequities in economic stability, education, physical environment, food, and access to health care and these inequities are, themselves, a result of racism; 

WHEREAS more than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes; and 

WHEREAS the collective prosperity and wellbeing of TOWN depends upon equitable access to opportunity for every resident regardless of the color of their skin: 

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the TOWN Board of Selectmen

(1) Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our town and all of Connecticut; 

(2) Work to progress as an equity and justice-oriented organization, by continuing to identify specific activities to enhance diversity and to ensure antiracism principles across our leadership, staffing and contracting;

(3) Promote equity through all policies approved by the Board of Selectmen and enhance educational efforts aimed at understanding, addressing and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development and public safety;

(4) Improve the quality of the data our town collects and the analysis of that data—it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve;

(5) Continue to advocate locally for relevant policies that improve health in communities of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism;

(6) Further work to solidify alliances and partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism and encourage other local, state, regional, and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis;

(7) Support community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color wherever they live; and

(8) Identify clear goals and objectives, including periodic reports to the Board of Selectmen, to assess progress and capitalize on opportunities to further advance racial equity.

Old Lyme BOS Say Yes (Hopefully) to Memorial Day Parade, No to Midsummer Fireworks

Will there be a Memorial Day Parade in Old Lyme this year?

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen engaged in a lively discussion at their regular meeting yesterday regarding whether the town’s traditional Memorial Day parade should proceed this year. It was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 pandemic.

First Selectman Timothy Griswold noted the Governor’s current Emergency Order regarding the number of people that can gather at an event expires on May 20. Regarding the current situation, he said, “I think they’re talking about a wedding or a sporting event … when you march [in Old Lyme], they’re not packed shoulder to shoulder.”

He noted that the Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Middle School Band had indicated a willingness to participate this year but that he had not heard from the LOL High School Band. He also said he had heard that the Boy Scouts would like to march.

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal commented, “I’m offended that you didn’t ask the Girl Scouts.”

Indicating general support for having the parade, Griswold added that he was happy to, “Leave it up to individuals to be smart [in terms of masks and social distancing.]”

Selectmen Christopher Kerr stated, “I think the town needs the parade.”

Recognizing general safety concerns and the possibility of a Governor’s order prohibiting the parade due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases, Nosal said, “I’m neutral at this point.”

Griswold then proposed that the board should ask parade organizer Anthony “Tony” Hendricks to ask, “The usual people,” if they are willing to participate and, “Check with the state.” On condition that affirmative responses are received from a majority of the participants and also from the state, he made a motion that the parade should go ahead.

The board of selectmen approved that motion unanimously.

The Town of Old Lyme’s fireworks display traditionally rounds off the Saturday when the Midsummer Festival is held in late July.

The next item on the agenda was whether to have the fireworks display traditionally held at the end of the Old Lyme  Midsummer Festival. The festival itself has already been cancelled by the organizers.

Griswold opened by saying, “I don’t think it’s a good idea. The festival has been cancelled and it’s a lot of money.”

Kerr asked, “Why have the the fireworks if we’re not having the Midsummer Festival?”

Nosal noted that the Hawks Nest neighborhood was considering a fireworks show on a barge and wondered f the Town was supporting that in a monetary fashion. Griswold said the organizers would need to make a specific request to the Old Lyme Board of Finance if they wish to seek town funding.

Nosal also questioned whether the other selectmen had reviewed her proposal made some six months ago for a drone firework display as an alternative to the ‘live’ display, especially since in future years the LOL High School’s new turf field might preclude having the firework display located there.

The selectmen agreed they needed to review the situation for 2022, but voted to cancel the fireworks for this year.

USPS Carrier, Old Lyme Resident Parrack Receives OL Kindness Committee’s March Award

Heather Parrack is the recipient of Old Lyme’s Kindness Award for March.

OLD LYME — Based on an anonymous submission, the Town of Old Lyme Kindness Committee has selected Heather Parrack, an Old Lyme resident, for their March 2021 Kindness Award.

Heather is a USPS mail carrier with a route through Old Lyme. She makes special trips to the doors of elderly residents who are unable to walk to their mailboxes. She stops and picks up the newspaper for one particular elderly resident, and for another, she brings in her trash cans. As she goes throughout her day making her deliveries, she is always looking for ways to help.

She takes pride in her job and always gives people a smile and wave. While on maternity leave last year, she left a birthday gift for a resident turning 93 and visited with her through the door with her new baby because the resident had been isolated for so long due to the pandemic. 

She also looks out for the children on her route. Several love to see her truck go by and she makes sure to give them a wave. She even had small replicas of mail trucks that she gave out to some of the small children on her route during the holidays. Her nominator said, “She is the sweetest, most kind person, trying to make people feel cared for while delivering much needed gifts, household supplies, and essentials!”

When asked why she goes out of her way to spread cheer on her route Heather said, “I like to brighten people’s days and put a smile on their faces. There are still people in the community who have been so isolated due to COVID that I am often the only person they see. It’s important to me to help them feel less alone.”

Thank you for looking out for the Old Lyme community, Heather. Keep spreading kindness wherever you go!

Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Commission Continues Public Hearing on Big Y’s Controversial Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal to Next Month

The site of the proposed Big Y Express at the western end of Halls Rd. in Old Lyme. Map courtesy of the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee.

OLD LYME — Around 50 people joined Tuesday’s Public Hearing for the proposal presented by Big Y Foods for a gas station/convenience store at 99 Halls Rd. and 25 Neck Rd., which was hosted Tuesday via Webex by the Old Lyme Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission (IWWC).

According to the application submitted to the IWWC, the proposal is for a 2,100 sq. ft. convenience mart and a gas station on a site surrounding Essex Savings Bank that is currently vacant and partially cleared. The application states that the fuel system consists of six dispensers under a protective canopy and two double wall fiberglass underground fuel tanks with electronic monitoring.

The IWWC’s role is to assess whether there is potential for significant impact to the watercourses located on the property proposed for the development. Commission Chairman Rachael Gaudio stressed both at the Feb. 23 meeting of the IWWC and at this meeting that it is not under this commission’s purview to consider zoning, planning or traffic matters.

The Commission had received written responses from the project engineer for the applicant, Ryan Scrittorale, PE, of Alfred Benesch & Co. to comments by the IWWC engineer Thomas Metcalfe and soil scientist Eric Davison of Davison Environmental. These have been published on the Town website at this link.

Since Martin Brogie, of Martin Brogie, Inc., the applicant’s soil scientist, was not able to attend the meeting due to being hospitalized for COVID, the applicant’s attorney, Robin Pearson, requested that the hearing be continued until next month.

The commission heard testimony from Dr. Michael W. Klemens, who has a PhD in Ecology/Conservation Biology. He was introduced by Marjorie Shansky, the attorney representing the intervenor at  85 Halls Road, LLC.

Krewson said that a major problem he was facing in terms of assessing the environmental impact of the proposed project was that “We don’t know where the boundary of the vernal pool is … we need to understand where the vernal pool is … to determine what is present in the vernal pool.” He noted that the most recent data available is from 2006, but emphasized, “There needs to be a lot more detail.”

He noted, “Wood frogs are a unique and special case. They are actually involved in nutrient recycling,” adding, “We need to see robust data on biodata.” Klemens said he would assume, “The majority of the migration comes from the north,” but stressed again, “We need to know [what is at the vernal pool.]”

The owner of the adjoining property Brain Farnham at 29 Neck Rd. responded to comments that he was not permitting access to his property to inspect the vernal pool. He said, “There are diucks in that pond. It’s their breeding season. That’s why I’m resisting people walking on my property.”

Gaudio countered that, as someone who had obtained two bachelor’s degrees, one in Biological Sciences and the second in Wildlife Conservation and Mangement, prior to attending law school and receiving a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy, she understood Farnham’s concerns. She stated, however, “I don’t think a scientist would go out and be a big impact [on the property or duck nests],” noting the inspection would primarily involve walking around the edge of the pool and looking for evidence of wildlife.

Chairman Gaudio agreed to continue the hearing until Tuesday, April 27, at 6 p.m., when it will be held again via Webex. She urged all parties, including members of the public, to submit any further comments by the end of the day on April 26.

The Public hearing will likely be closed on April 27, but the IWWC will not necessarily vote on the proposal at that meeting.

Editor’s Note: The full Minutes of the meeting have now been published on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.

 

 

Old Lyme Planning Commission Opposes CT Bills on Affordable Housing Currently Being Considered by Legislature

OLD LYME — The following is the text of a letter being sent to various Connecticut House Representatives and State Senators by the Old Lyme Planning Commission. These include State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) and State Senator Paul Formica (R-30th), both of whose Districts include Old Lyme.

Dear Legislator: 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission supports the development of Affordable Housing (AH) in the town of Old Lyme.  This has been stated in the Town’s Plan of Conservation & Development. Zoning regulations must be modified and developed to support affordable housing yet maintain the rural and historic character of the Town.

There are unidentified affordable housing units in Town which qualify as affordable but do not have deed restrictions. Prior to any new legislation being considered, it is necessary to redefine affordable housing to ascertain what already exists in each community but is not identified under the current definition. Enacting legislation without regard to what could currently be considered to be existing affordable housing is premature and unrealistic.

Currently, two bills being considered by the Connecticut legislature (SB-1024 and SB-804) are intended to promote the construction of affordable housing in all Connecticut municipalities.  The bills would eliminate local control over most accessory dwelling units and over most multi-family housing.  If adopted, these bills would limit local control to only single-family homes.  Local municipalities would have no authority to influence the affordable housing process, including the preservation of the town’s historic appearance and rural character. 

As written, the two pieces of legislation are a one-size-fits all scenario.  The character of shore-line communities are in sharp contrast to communities in the middle of the state and also to communities in the northeast and northwest corner of the state.  Anyone making decisions concerning affordable housing that does not live within the community will not demonstrate ownership toward the character of the town.  Therefore, residence will likely be left with a housing structure based on a contractor’s priorities that will not reflect the local character of the community.  

The timing of the bills is suspect.  Available information indicates that the bills were drafted in January but not released until recently.  This appears to be an attempt to push a bill through legislation while “while under the radar.”  This commission considers this to be a disingenuous attempt by some in the legislature.  

It should also be noted that the Chairman of the Planning Commission is also a member of an Affordable Housing Task Force that has provided guidelines to the Selectman’s office for the creation of an Affordable Housing Commission that will facilitate the development of affordable housing on currently available property and the development of additional housing where feasible. 

The Old Lyme Planning Commission opposes bills SB-1024 and SB-804 in their current form. The Old Lyme Planning Commission is of the opinion that local review of any new construction is paramount to maintaining the character of the local community. 

Sincerely,

Town of Old Lyme Planning Commission,
Old Lyme.

TONIGHT: Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Hold Public Hearing on Halls Rd. Gas Station/Convenience Store Proposal

OLD LYME — Old Lyme’s Inland Wetlands Commission is holding a Public Hearing on this controversial proposal as part of its regular monthly meeting this evening starting at 6 p.m. The hearing is scheduled after New Business and you can join the meeting via your computer or phone.

No in-person attendance is permitted at this meeting.

To join via your computer:

Visit this link:
https://oldlymect.webex.com/oldlymect/j.php?MTID=md7e689c717d8e5cc0a01ba…
Enter meeting number (access code): 129 901 7985
Enter meeting password: M2FraPiuY82

To join by phone:
Call +1-408-418-9388 (United States Toll)

The agenda reads as follows:

NEW BUSINESS

1.      21-5 – Christopher Marchant – 7 Sandpiper Point Road – Cut down some broken tree limbs and removal of some fallen trees on the ground.

2.      21-6 Town of Old Lyme WPCA – Shore Rd, Hartford Ave, Portland Ave, Swan Ave, Pond Rd, Cottage Ln, Old Colony Rd. Breen Ave, Gorton Ave.  –

Regional Wastewater Project to sewer Sound View Beach and Miscellaneous Town Area B.

3.      21-7 Prospect Transportation of New England, LLC – 38 Hatchetts Hill Rd –   Build a truck service building for its transportation and logistics business.

4.      21-9 Daniels Propane – 5 Gould Lane – Setting two 120 LP tanks which includes running 15′ of copper and trench approximately 10 feet.  Property Owner: Michael Switzer

5.      21-10 Michael Riggio – 18 Cutler Road – Adding four feet to existing deck.

PUBLIC HEARING

6.     20-26 –Big Y Foods/Tony Coppola – 99 Halls Road & 25 Neck  Road –  Construct new convenience mart with retail motor vehicle fueling facility.

OLD BUSINESS

7.     21-8 – 6 Jericho – Ken Sweitzer –- Clearing

8.      21-1 – Point O’Woods Association – South Lyme – Maintenance and cleaning within the channel.

9.     21-4 – Christopher Papadopulos – 27 Connecticut Road – Deck on rear of  house and replace existing shed with new 10 x 20 shed

MINUTES

10.    Regular Meeting Minutes – February 23, 2021

Site Walk Meeting Minutes – March 17, 2021

Visit this link to read a letter on the subject of the proposed gas station/convenience store and all the comments that it sparked.

 

Lyme’s AHC Publishes Online Quiz to Engage Residents on Needs, Benefits of Affordable Housing

AHC Seeks to Increase Awareness, Understanding of Affordable Housing as Part of its Efforts to Develop a State-Mandated Affordable Housing Plan in Lyme

LYME – As part of its efforts to develop an Affordable Housing Plan for the Town of Lyme by early next year, the Town of Lyme’s Affordable Housing Commission (AHC) has published an online quiz aimed at engaging residents in a thoughtful discussion of how affordable housing might take further shape in the Lyme community and how it might benefit the Town and its residents.  

The link to the quiz, “Home Sweet Affordable Home: Test Your Knowledge of Lyme,” can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NJ6DTTY.  The five-question quiz seeks to engage Lyme residents by allowing them to test their knowledge of existing affordable housing in town, and by addressing some common misperceptions about what affordable housing actually is.

The AHC is charged with developing an Affordable Housing Plan for the Town of Lyme – a task which is required to be completed by the Spring of 2022 by Connecticut statute §8-30j.  Through the development, community review and approval of this plan, the commission hopes to one day bring more affordable units to Lyme in a way that preserves the Town’s bucolic nature.

The commission is also seeking to engage residents in the issue of affordable housing by:

  • Inviting them to attend its monthly meetings, which currently take place on Zoom on the first Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m.  (Agendas for each meeting are published on the Town website, along with Zoom invitations.  Meeting minutes are also published on the website.)
  • Publishing information on the Town website that lists resources for residents interested in creating affordable housing options through the use of accessory-apartment construction loans and mortgage programs available from the State.  (That information can currently be found here: www.townlyme.org/affordable-housing-commission.)

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Gas Station/Convenience Market on Halls Rd. Raises Many Concerns

To the Editor:

Re: Proposed Service Station Complex on Halls Rd.

We recently learned that Big Y Foods, Inc. is planning to develop the open parcel of land that lies between Treasures and the Essex Savings Bank on Halls Road into a large gas station and convenience market complex.

The open parcel, which is owned by the bank, is contiguous with another bank-owned parcel that fronts on Neck Rd. (Rte. 156). Both are for sale and, if linked, would provide access and egress on two of Old Lyme’s (already) busiest thoroughfares. The Halls Road “raceway” already connects, in less than three quarters of a mile, two busy entrance/exits to I-95 North and South. Old Lyme’s roads are already burdened by cars, trucks, and buses seeking alternate routes, when backups occur on the interstate,

I have been involved in the past in drafting certificates of need applications for Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford. I know that we took great care to demonstrate that a proposed expansion of service was unique and not redundant of other readily available and existing services.

I don’t believe that the approving process for this project is required to consider redundancies. However, that said, Halls Road already has a Shell gas station, which, coincidentally, had also proposed a convenience store expansion.

Further, both Andy’s Deli & Market, and the Big Y World Class Market, already serve different segments of Old Lyme residents and visitors shopping for groceries and prepared foods. Thus, Old Lyme is already well-served by two high quality organizations.

We patronize both, and interestingly, for the same reasons. We are known, by name, in both stores; and both provide us with the feel of a small-town local market.

However, the difference is that the supermarket’s customer base will not be largely compromised by the new convenience market.

In contrast, I know that Amish and Neha Shah, Andys’ owners, feel that the proposed facility would compete with their customer base, and probably, as part of a much larger organization, offer broader products and services at lower prices than they, as sole proprietors, can provide. They are very concerned that their small market and relatively small margins, could not sustain any significant new competition.

Further, I don’t think, based on the meetings that I’ve attended, that this proposed gas station and convenience market complex can possibly be consistent with the master plan that is still in development by Old Lyme’s Halls Road Improvements Committee. Finally, we don’t need to put existing local businesses at risk by approving redundant services; and Halls Road’s ability to support increased traffic from I-95 is very limited.

Sincerely,

Thomas D. and Christina J. Gotowka,
Old Lyme.

Commenting CLOSED on This Article: Nosal Again Urges Old Lyme Board of Selectmen to Sign Resolution on Racism, No Response Received

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (File photo)

OLD LYME — NOTE: 1/27, The comments on this article are now closed.  At the Old Board of Selectmen’s (BOS) meeting held this past Tuesday, Jan. 19, Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal again urged her fellow members on the board, First Selectman Timothy Griswold (R) and Selectman Christopher Kerr (R) to sign the Resolution Declaring Racism a Public Health Crisis, a draft of which is printed below for reference.

She had first raised the request at the Aug. 8, 2021 BOS meeting. It was not on the agenda at the Aug. 17 BOS meeting, but was discussed at the Sept. 8 BOS meeting and then again at the Sept. 22 BOS meeting.  Nosal raised the matter once more at both the Dec. 21 BOS meeting and the Jan. 4 BOS meeting.

Each time she was promised that Griswold and Kerr would review the resolution in more detail, but neither has offered any amendments to it to date.

Speaking under ‘Other Business,’ Nosal began by saying, “I am again acknowledging your fear, uncertainty, and uncomfortable feelings about racism existing in Old Lyme. I acknowledge your resistance to a substantive discussion on the Resolutions provided. I recognize that white privilege allows us to focus on the status quo and not look beyond Lyme St.”

She continued, “But it is unjust to ignore the many people who have spoken passionately in person to this board in favor of signing the Resolution, to the many who have written the board in support of the Resolution, to ignore CCM’s [Connecticut Conference of Municipalities] support of the Resolution, and to ignore our neighboring shoreline towns [Old Saybrook, Lyme, New London and New Haven] who have signed on to work towards justice.”

Concluding forcefully, she urged Griswold and Kerr to sign the Resolution, saying, “Tonight, I ask you to lead, to lead with love not fear, to do the right and the just thing. To stand up and do the work. Our world and our town need healing, more than ever.”

She ended with the words, “This is a good first step. Please sign.”

Neither Griswold nor Kerr responded and the meeting was adjourned a few minutes later.

***

The following is the original DRAFT Resolution that Nosal presented for discussion:

WHEREAS, racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism that is interpersonal and/or internalized or systemic racism that is institutional or structural, and is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks;

WHEREAS race is a social construct with no biological basis; 

WHEREAS racism unfairly disadvantages specific individuals and communities, while unfairly giving advantages to other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources; 

WHEREAS racism is a root cause of poverty and constricts economic mobility; 

WHEREAS racism causes persistent discrimination and disparate outcomes in many areas of life, including housing, education, employment, and criminal justice, and is itself a social determinant of health; 

WHEREAS racism and segregation have exacerbated a health divide resulting in people of color in Connecticut bearing a disproportionate burden of illness and mortality including COVID-19 infection and death, heart disease, diabetes, and infant mortality; 

WHEREAS Black, Native American, Asian and Latino residents are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as a consequence of inequities in economic stability, education, physical environment, food, and access to health care and these inequities are, themselves, a result of racism; 

WHEREAS more than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes; and 

WHEREAS the collective prosperity and wellbeing of TOWN depends upon equitable access to opportunity for every resident regardless of the color of their skin: 

Now, therefore, be it Resolved, that the TOWN Board of Selectmen

(1) Assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our town and all of Connecticut; 

(2) Work to progress as an equity and justice-oriented organization, by continuing to identify specific activities to enhance diversity and to ensure antiracism principles across our leadership, staffing and contracting;

(3) Promote equity through all policies approved by the Board of Selectmen and enhance educational efforts aimed at understanding, addressing and dismantling racism and how it affects the delivery of human and social services, economic development and public safety;

(4) Improve the quality of the data our town collects and the analysis of that data—it is not enough to assume that an initiative is producing its intended outcome, qualitative and quantitative data should be used to assess inequities in impact and continuously improve;

(5) Continue to advocate locally for relevant policies that improve health in communities of color, and support local, state, regional, and federal initiatives that advance efforts to dismantle systemic racism;

(6) Further work to solidify alliances and partnerships with other organizations that are confronting racism and encourage other local, state, regional, and national entities to recognize racism as a public health crisis;

(7) Support community efforts to amplify issues of racism and engage actively and authentically with communities of color wherever they live; and

(8) Identify clear goals and objectives, including periodic reports to the Board of Selectmen, to assess progress and capitalize on opportunities to further advance racial equity.

Public Hearing for Old Lyme’s Planning Commission’s Conservation, Development Plan Draws Most Comments on Town’s Housing Needs

Old Lyme Planning Commission members and visitors participated in a virtual Public Hearing Thursday on the commission’s proposed Plan of Conservation & Development.

OLD LYME — Old Lyme Planning Commission Chairman Harold Thompson opened Thursday evening’s Public Hearing for the ‘Adoption of the 2020 Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD)’ by noting, “This has been a long road with some difficult times.” Adding that the Commission had held 15 workshops to discuss the document, which is published on the Town of Old Lyme website, he went on to detail the required timeline for gaining its approval in order to  submit it by the mandatory deadline to the state.

He then opened the virtual (the meeting was held via Webex) floor to comments from the public. First to speak was Halls Road Improvement Committee Chairman Edie Twining, who initially quoted from comments she had submitted in writing to the Commission prior to the meeting.

She stated, “The Halls Road Improvements Committee has initiated a Halls Road Plan which is currently being created by the BSC group. This is a significant, town-approved, and town-funded planning initiative that will guide any future development in the Halls Road Commercial area. The plan will include recommendations for significant capital investment by the town to create new sidewalks, bike paths, pedestrian lighting, and landscaping in the Halls Road area.”

Continuing, “It will provide studies on the market needs of this area, the infrastructure options, CT DOT constraints, and documentation of all existing conditions to provide recommendations for changes in zoning, uses, and design guidelines,” she added,  “This report will lay the groundwork to aid in maintaining our town’s commercial center with the introduction of mixed use.”

She then stressed, “In keeping with clearly expressed public sentiment, it will steer away from the current “strip center” aesthetic of 60’ setbacks. Instead it will promote a return to the original small town character of Old Lyme’s town center, as found on historic Lyme Street.”

Twining concluded her comments in her own words, “We feel the town’s 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development should include a reasonable discussion of the largest formal planning effort currently underway under the town’s auspices and at the town’s expense,” noting, “I have delivered an outline of specific pages where I see a need for changes in order to correctly represent the Halls Road Planning effort. I would like to request that these changes be included in your document.”

Finally she thanked the commission for their, “time and consideration of this work.”

Howard Margules, Old Lyme Economic Development Commission Chairman, then questioned whether the issue of blighted structures in the town should be included in the document. He also quoted from a general description of a strip mall, which Thompson agreed bore a strong resemblance to Halls Rd. Margules pointed out that it states in the POCD that strip malls are not permitted and therefore suggested there might be a “disconnect” in the report on that matter.

Margules further suggested the commission should confer with the new leadership at Lyme Academy to update information in the plan regarding the Academy and then concluded by saying how much he appreciated the commission’s work.

Thompson responded he had already had a lengthy phone conversation with Michael Duffy, the new board chair at the Academy.

Stephen Jungkeit, Senior Minister at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, thanked the planning commission for their work, adding, “This is a really well done report.” He said he wished to “affirm interest in [a variety of types of] housing,” which had been mentioned in the report, noting that, “from his vantage point,” this was a major issue in the town that he felt needed urgent attention. After noting that he hoped that the POCD represented, “… the beginning of a wider look at the issue,” he ended by saying simply, “I’m just saying thank you for that.”

Commission member Stephen Ross expressed the opinion, “that what would benefit the town a lot would be a broader survey of what the town needs in terms of housing.” Remarking that a house near his own on Shore Rd. had been vacant for one and a half years, he said, “We need to assess the actual demand [for housing] as opposed to the perceived demand.”

Twining responded that the HRIC was doing a “market study looking into some of those things,” and had reported that, “only one apartment was available in the whole town.”

Ross disputed that finding saying, “There’s a heck of a lot more than one apartment available,” noting that there was a need to look into all rentals.

Jungkeit suggested any survey should also include research into housing needs emanating from outside the town. Ross then stated, “It’s all about inventory.”

Margules agreed that “drilling down further into housing needs” would be beneficial, noting that, for example, the needs of seniors downsizing and young people moving into town “need to be addressed as well.”

The Public Hearing concluded with a unanimous vote to continue the hearing until Feb. 9.