December 6, 2019

Starting July 1, Trash AND Recycling to be Picked Up Weekly in Old Lyme

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder announced today that a contract has been signed with CWPM Waste Removal and Recycling Services to provide collection services for trash and recycling in the Town beginning July 1, 2019.

In a press release, she offers special thanks to Old Lyme Selectman Chris Kerr, Old Lyme Board of Finance Member David Kelsey and current trash/recycling service provider, Gary Yuknat of Old Lyme Sanitation, for their hard work in developing an Request for Proposal (RFP), reviewing the bids received, and their input on the contract that was signed.

Reemsnyder states, “The big news is that all residents will now have weekly pickup of both trash and recycling, beginning July 1,” adding, “It is important to note that in the past, beach areas had trash pickup twice weekly from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but that will no longer be the case.”

She confirms unequivocally, “Trash pickup for the entire town will be once weekly throughout the year.”

She notes in the release, “Residents should also be aware that the State of Connecticut is pushing hard for compliance on recycling, and the Town has received several notices from its recycling vendor, Willimantic Waste, pointing out that there are contaminants in the recycling waste they receive from Old Lyme. This translates into increased cost to the town, resulting in increased taxes.”

The graphic at this link reminds residents”What’s In and What’s Out” in terms of recycling — please take note!

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Sen. Needleman Meets With Lyme Selectmen, Issues Statement on School Regionalization

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd), whose district includes Lyme, issued the following statement Monday on school regionalization proposals.

“On Monday afternoon, Sen. Needleman met with the Lyme Board of Selectmen and had an extended conversation with them about his work so far in the legislature, the policies he will and won’t support this legislative session, and how he can best work with the town.

The discussion featured school regionalization as a lead topic. Sen. Needleman has proposed Senate Bill No. 572, “An Act Encouraging Regional Cooperation Between School Districts,” which would allow multiple boards of education acting in concert to define their own school districts and have that collaboration recognized by the state as a Local Education Agency, or LEA. 

“Collaboration on school services can provide schools with increased efficiency and save both the schools and taxpayers money,” said Sen. Needleman, “Unfortunately, current law makes such collaborations complicated and discourages districts from actually engaging with one another.”

Needleman points to his hometown of Essex and its collaboration with Chester and Deep River for grades K-12. The towns are required to operate five boards of education with thirty-three board members in order to share costs and comply with current state statutes.

“There is a good argument to be made that one of the reasons why school districts aren’t doing more together is because of this level of complexity,” Needleman said. “We should be encouraging creative solutions that let our educators to do what they do best. No two school districts are the same; we should allow them to innovate and determine what works best for students.”

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Work by Lymes’ Senior Center Artists on Display at Old Lyme Town Hall Through April

This watercolor by Keiko Kaiser depicting a beautiful flower garden is one of the featured pieces of artwork currently on display in Old Lyme Town Hall.

The Shoreline Artists’ Workshop and the Lymes’ Senior Center’s art classes, under the instruction of Sharon Schmiedel, will combine their artistic talents to present an exhibition at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall during the months of March and April. Exquisite pieces of work will reflect a variety of visual media and styles.

All pieces will be for sale, with a portion of any proceeds donated to the Senior Center.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, March 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the town hall.

Come celebrate the Senior Center artists for their dedication to support the visual arts and the Senior Center community.

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Halls Rd. Improvement Committee Offers ‘Frequently Asked Questions’

We received the following Frequently Asked Questions from BJ Bernblum, the Halls Rd. Improvements Committee Chairman. He asked that we publish them since, in his words, “At the Old Lyme public meeting held on Dec. 6, 2018, and in emailed comments received by the Halls Road Improvements Committee afterwards, a number of questions were raised that need to be answered.”

Bernblum states that this document of Frequently Asked Questions prepared by the committee, dated Jan. 28, and published below, “… attempts to do this.”

A view of Halls Rd. today looking north. Photo courtesy of the Yale Urban Design Workshop.

We thank the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee for sending us these FAQ’s and, as always, we look forward to hearing reader’s thoughts on them.

Question 1:  Why should the town get into the development business?  Isn’t that better left to private developers?

Answer:  It shouldn’t and yes.  We are not suggesting that the town take charge of development on Halls Road but, rather, that we take steps to encourage private parties to develop the neighborhood in a manner and direction that will comply with current requirements (safety, complete streets, ADA accessibility, etc.) and best serve the needs of the community.  These steps would include adopting a “master plan” and guidelines for future development, investing limited funds in infrastructure and public spaces, and making appropriate changes to the town’s zoning code and Plan of Conservation and Development, all intended to allow for and encourage private developers to invest in upgrading existing structures and undertaking new construction. 

Question 2:  Halls Road is fine the way it is—why is the town considering changes? 

Answer:   Halls Road, our central commercial center, has developed haphazardly over many years.  It is inhospitable to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, portions of it are esthetically unattractive or looking tired, and residents currently have to leave town to seek products or services they cannot obtain locally. 

If nothing is done, we are concerned that the business environment will deteriorate, businesses will close, and even fewer goods and services will be available.  With thoughtful planning and inducements, we should be able to:

i.  improve the business environment, thereby assisting existing businesses, attracting new ones, and growing and diversifying the tax base;

ii.  create a physically-attractive neighborhood, safe and inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists;

iii. stimulate the development of housing that is inviting to down-sizing residents and to young folks wanting to move to town; and

iv. provide public spaces for civic events and recreation.

The ultimate objective is to create a vibrant town center that has more to offer the citizens of Old Lyme and is one we can be proud of. 

Question 3:  What is the new plan for Halls Road?

Answer:  The plan does not yet exist; it is still developing and is flexible. The goal is to reach majority agreement on what the Halls Road neighborhood might ideally look like.  Initially, we held a public meeting to obtain feedback regarding those elements residents would like to see included.  The meeting produced many ideas, including the ability to park once and walk the entire road, creation of green space with a community gathering area, development of mixed-use facilities (or a mix of uses), and esthetic enhancements.  

We recently held a second public meeting to gain further input, and will hold more meetings in the future.  The Yale Urban Design Workshop is assisting us in developing a master plan, but we need substantial input from town residents and stakeholders in order to come up with sound ideas that enjoy widespread support.

Question 4:  What is the process for developing a master plan?

Answer:  Once we have enough public input to begin to see the outlines of a plan, we will present these ideas to local and state governmental authorities for input and necessary approvals.  At the town level, the plan will likely need buy-in from the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance, the Zoning Commission and the Planning Commission, as well as amendments to the zoning regulations and the Plan of Conservation and Development. 

At the state level, we will need approval from the Department of Transportation, which owns Halls Road.  A master plan can be finalized only when it enjoys broad public support and satisfies governmental requirements.

Question 5:  What is the anticipated time-frame for implementing the plan?

Answer:  The Committee intends to develop a master plan and set of guidelines for the future development of Halls Road.  The plan would consist of several phases to be pursued in an orderly sequence over time, so that work done in one phase supports, or at least does not interfere with, improvements to be made in a subsequent phase.  Each phase will also be expected to “stand on its own,” in the sense that its completion will add value to the town even if subsequent phases are not pursued. 

For example, an initial phase might consist of improving access, such as by adding sidewalks, a bike path, improved signage, and a pedestrian bridge over the Lieutenant River.  The timing and exact nature of subsequent phases, and the changes that will be implemented, will of course depend on future events, including available funding and the decisions made by private developers and property-owners. 

Hence the timing is unpredictable, but this is surely a multi-year process over which the master plan will evolve, perhaps substantially but consistent with the guidelines, to address changes over time in the town’s commercial and residential needs.

Question 6:  Will the plan result in unfettered growth and additional traffic?

Answer:  We view this project as a rehabilitation of the Halls Road neighborhood, and any potential growth must be managed to fit the needs and the character of the town.  For example, we would encourage architectural design in keeping with the small New England town flavor of Old Lyme. 

There is no intent or appetite to change our “town business center” into a dense retail environment but, instead, to attract a limited number of businesses that our neighbors would like to enjoy locally (e.g., a restaurant, coffee shop, bakery, jewelry store), and enhance the patronage for existing businesses.  These changes would increase auto traffic somewhat. 

However, we intend to limit congestion through a design that encourages folks to park once and then walk the neighborhood, rather than drive from place to place.

Question 7:  How can this plan survive the overflow traffic from tie-ups on I-95?

Answer:  These tie-ups will not be materially exacerbated by a normal increase in Halls Road traffic, and they occur infrequently enough so that they should not discourage business development along the road, which is currently a pass-through. 

The plan might call for locating parking behind the main shopping and business buildings and creating tertiary access roads and walkways, which would mitigate the Halls Road bottleneck.  For example, we might explore the construction of a local access road south of the current Old Lyme Marketplace buildings (the Big Y plaza).  

Question 8:  Will private property owners be required to make changes or invest money?

Answer:  No one will be required to do anything.  Other than the state right-of-way along Halls Road, the real estate in question is privately owned and changes must be voluntary.

The expectation is that property owners will see the advantages of making changes to their property in order to increase profitability.  Alternatively, they may discover that they can sell their property at an attractive price to a motivated developer who is ready to invest in a significant project consistent with the town’s guidelines. 

Question 9  How will the plan be financed and how much will it raise property taxes?

Answer:  The objective is to have this project be tax neutral or result in a tax rate decrease because of an increase in the tax base.  The public infrastructure would hopefully be financed, at least in part, through state and federal grants, and from new tax revenue generated by the new construction, although this might initially require town bonding.  The private development will be financed by developers and property owners, who may also help pay for common amenities such as wastewater management, sidewalks and landscaping. 

The town might consider creating a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District like the one just approved in Old Saybrook, under which new tax revenue generated by new construction may be allocated, in whole or in part, to improvements in the district and to financial inducements to developers.  In all events, any material town expenditures will have to be approved at a town meeting.

Question 10:  What happens if I-95 is widened in the future or the exit or entrance ramps are reconfigured?

Answer:  That question is impossible to answer, not knowing what properties the government might want to seize by eminent domain.  However, given the current economic condition of the state and the absence of any such plans, we do not think it prudent to forego changes benefitting the town because of a remote, future risk.

Question 11:  What do you mean by residential housing on Halls Road and why is it needed?

Answer:  We would seek to enable the construction of reasonably-priced rental properties and condominiums.  Many concerns have been expressed about young people who want to move to town (perhaps after college) or out of their parents’ homes, and older folks who are retiring or downsizing and would like to remain in Old Lyme, but cannot do so because of the lack of appropriate housing. 

The Halls Road neighborhood, as envisioned with expanded resources, offers an ideal location for this housing, since both groups prefer to live in areas where they can walk to stores, restaurants, banks, recreational facilities and other amenities.  Furthermore, the retailers in the neighborhood would surely benefit from the presence of these residents.

Question 12:  How do you intend to address increased wastewater?

Answer:  A good question that must be addressed, but there are solutions other than municipal sewers.  For example, it might be feasible to construct a community treatment facility that would process the wastewater to a condition where it can safely be discharged.  

Question 13:  How can the town validate what types of improvements would be the most successful for the town, its businesses and the tax base?

Answer:  One way would be to retain a professional consultant such as CERC (the Connecticut Economic Resource Center) to perform an economic review of Old Lyme and the region, and recommend what improvements would likely be most viable.  Such a study would give our residents and businesses guidance on the development possibilities and the impact on taxes.  It would also serve as an attraction to serious investors, both for its content and as an indication of the town’s seriousness about supporting the project.

Question 14:  How can I have input to the plan or keep updated on the progress?

Answer:  There are several ways for you to stay informed and be heard, and we hope you will utilize them.  We will hold more public meetings and focus groups, and intend to develop a page on the town’s website where we can provide updates and receive input.  You can also send an email to the Halls Road Improvements Committee at hallsroadcommittee@oldlyme-ct.gov, or ask to speak personally with any of us.

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Old Lyme Annual Meeting to be Held Tonight; Announcement of 2018 Citizen of the Year Now Postponed

9:18am, 1/28 UPDATE: We have just been informed that the announcement of the 2018 Citizen of the Year has now been postponed due to a “schedule conflict.”

Old Lyme’s Annual Town Business Meeting will be held on Monday, Jan. 28, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School Auditorium, 53 Lyme St.

The agenda is as follows:

  • To accept the Annual Town Report for the fiscal year July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018, as submitted by the Board of Finance.
  • To announce the recipient of the Board of Selectmen’s Citizen of the Year for 2018. NOW POSTPONED
  • A request by the Board of Selectmen to appropriate $46,000.00 for Technology Upgrades.
  • To consider and vote on a resolution (a) to authorize the Town to issue and sell its notes and bonds pursuant to the Connecticut General Statutes, as amended, or any other provision of law thereto enabling, in an amount not to exceed $1,250,000 to finance an appropriation for the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library renovation project being undertaken by the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association; and (b) to authorize such other actions relating to the foregoing as may be necessary or appropriate. The full text of the foregoing resolution is on file and open to inspection at the office of the Town Clerk, Town Hall, 52 Lyme St., Old Lyme, Connecticut and on the Town website (www.oldlyme-ct.gov)
  • Election to fill a vacancy in the panel of regular members of the Board of Assessment Appeals.
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Holiday Schedules for Town Hall, Trash, Recycling in Lyme and Old Lyme


Lyme Town Hall and Lyme Transfer Station will be closed Monday, Dec. 24, and Tuesday, Dec. 25, in observance of the Christmas holiday; and again on Monday, Dec. 31, and Tuesday, Jan. 1, in observance of the New Year’s holiday.

Old Lyme Town Hall will close at 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 24, and also be closed on Christmas Day (Dec. 25) and New Year’s Day (Jan. 1, 2019.)

Old Lyme Transfer Station will be closed on Monday and Tuesday for the next two weeks for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Lymes’ Senior Center has special holiday hours as follows:
Christmas Eve — Monday, Dec. 24: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day, Tuesday, Dec. 25, and Wednesday, Dec. 26
New Year’s Eve — Monday, Dec. 31: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Closed New Year’s Day, Tuesday, Jan. 1

Old Lyme trash and recycling will follow a normal schedule on Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve). Trash and recycling that would normally be picked up on Tuesday (Christmas Day) will be picked up the following day.  Automated containers should be curbside by 7 a.m. There will be no return trips.

Christmas trees will be picked up in Old Lyme during the week of Jan. 14. If you would like the Town to pick up your tree, you must have it curbside by 7 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 14. If you miss pick up on your street, you can take your tree to the Transfer Station (open Tuesday through Saturday) at no charge. There will be no return trips for curbside pick up.

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Update on Halls Rd. Improvement Project

We felt an update on the Halls Road Improvements project would be timely since several related things have occurred since our last post on the subject.

Firstly, we have received quite a number of thoughtful and constructive comments from readers on the topic, some of which we have already published and others that were sent to directly to us and anonymity requested. We are now publishing  them all in their entirety below.

We still welcome further comments and will continue to respect people’s anonymity if requested.

Halls Road today. Photo from Yale Urban design Workshop presentation given on Dec. 6, 2018..

Secondly, the Halls Road Improvements Committee has now published the Dec. 6 Yale Urban Design Workshop presentation on the Town of Old Lyme website at this link.  There is also an opportunity to comment on the proposed plans at this link.

Thirdly, the folk at SECoast.org have published their report of the Dec. 6 meeting at this link.  They are also soliciting comments on the proposal on their Facebook page at this link.

Finally, there is an Old Lyme Board of Selectmen’s meeting this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the town hall meeting room, which includes an update on the project on its agenda.

Comments on the proposal received to date from readers are as follows:

Author; John Stratton:

For more than a century there’s been no comprehensive plan for the use and appearance of lower Boston Post Road (now known as Halls Road). The 1911 auto bridge and the 1948 realignment of the Boston Post Road essentially created the present patchwork. It’s time for a set of guidelines which are proactive from the standpoint of creating a single, attractive, town destination, preferably one that blends economic, residential, and community spaces. Yes, problems may arise, and careful rezoning will have to anticipate them. In 1990-1993 the initial proposals for the new I-95 bridge and interchange were seen to consume a lot of our shopping center. People reacted with concern and the invasive roadway plans were altered— but no new plan emerged to redefine the Halls Road streetscape as a “town center.” This is our chance to build that plan.

Author: Anonymous

I think the Town’s effort is great.  It is for plans such as these that we have Town committees and staff in the first place.  They are doing their job, and thinking long term about what kind of Old Lyme we want to have.  As said by one of the representatives (and I paraphrase), when we let the developers lead, we end up with an ugly mishmash of structures … just like we have on Halls Road now.

What the Town is proposing is reasonable.  Over the next 30 years, there will be development one way or the other.  The town is just saying, hey let’s all have a say in defining what we want to wind up with at the end of the day.  The Town is not saying let’s spend a whole lot of tax money up front, or even in the long term.  They are just saying let’s all agree on what we want, and let private developers fill in the blanks as they see future economic opportunities.  The Town might provide a few dollars, but it sounds like it is more intent on offering zoning benefits, and seeking to access State grant money.

At the end of the day, this is a 30 year plan.  We have 30 years to monitor it, and to make revisions if necessary.  Give it a try.  Otherwise Halls Road will remain a blight.

Author: Thomas D. Gotowka

Christina and I attended both public meetings hosted by Old Lyme’s Halls Road Improvements Committee, and conducted by members of the Yale Urban Design Workshop. Yale presented the Committee’s vision statement and several conceptual renderings of what fully realizing that vision might yield. The article in the New London Day accurately summarized the vision.

The audience was skeptical of the immense breadth and scope of that vision; – requiring twenty- five or more years to complete.  Several concerns were raised about cost and the impact on taxes.

We left with a few thoughts and concerns. It was not apparent to us that current Halls Road business owners and the professionals occupying office space had participated to any extent in developing that vision. It is absolutely important to get their buy-in. Essex Bank did state that any of their future development would take Old Lyme’s plan into consideration.

We found Alan Plattus’ presentation to be a bit glib. This is important stuff, and some of the vision could be lost in presenter style. Also, know the names of our local landmarks, especially if they factor into the plan. (i.e. it’s the “Bow Bridge” that used to cross the Lieutenant River). But, after all; they’re Yale, not Harvard.

Our suggestion: parse the plan into achievable shorter- range projects that will yield some early successes. Start with the hiking/biking paths along the Lieutenant River, rebuild the foot bridge, and create the new Halls Road village green.

Author: J. David Kelsey

I strongly believe a municipality’s best service for economic development is to create a flexible crucible allowing for creative use of people’s property and to support it with reasonable infrastructure. A good starting point is indeed a big picture vision of what could be – the work of the Yale is a helpful guide to figure out what zoning flexibility might be added and to identify infrastructure improvements (sidewalks, rational street signs, crosswalks) that might be undertaken.

What is not clear is the level of involvement of the town in changing the nature of existing buildings – are we talking about the town purchasing certain parcels and eminent domain strategies so that the town (instead of existing private owners) determines what might happen? I would advocate for a clear statement soon of how the town proposes to be involved, and I would hope it would be a light touch of reducing setbacks, requiring rear parking, introducing mixed-use zoning and working with DOT early to see what actual changes could be made for street parking (it is a unique stretch of US-1 with unusually high volume during frequent detours), sidewalks and hardscape improvements. Private owners could then determine what makes sense economically for changes to existing buildings and for new construction.

If the goal is for the town to control actively in some manner the types of use and nature of construction, that is a very large role to undertake, since this part of town is economically vibrant already with buildings that are close to full already with businesses, despite being less aesthetically desirable in the case of some buildings. I hope we get a clear picture that is public of the long-term town plan, rough ideas of costs to the town and a timetable once the community feedback for Yale’s draft plan is complete. A great start at very low cost and quickly achieved would be consolidating or eliminating street and traffic signs and at least having them stand up straight.

For more than a century there’s been no comprehensive plan for the use and appearance of lower Boston Post Road (now known as Halls Road). The 1911 auto bridge and the 1948 realignment of the Boston Post Road essentially created the present patchwork. It’s time for a set of guidelines which are proactive from the standpoint of creating a single, attractive, town destination, preferably one that blends economic, residential, and community spaces. Yes, problems may arise, and careful rezoning will have to anticipate them. In 1990-1993 the initial proposals for the new I-95 bridge and interchange were seen to consume a lot of our shopping center. People reacted with concern and the invasive roadway plans were altered— but no new plan emerged to redefine the Halls Road streetscape as a “town center.” This is our chance to build that plan.

Author: Ron Breault

I attended the Dec 6 meeting. My comments

1) When asked about the planning assumption regarding possible DOT changes to I-95, the Yale Urban Design response was that, despite recognition that traffic delays and congestion already exist, there would be no area changes in I-95 in the next 20 years.

Since this is already a significant thru traffic problem which can only get worse, changes envisioned by the ‘plan’ for Halls Rd that include on Halls Rd parallel and/or diagonal parking, increased commercial density and pedestrian use, increased recreational use and pedestrian crossing and stop signs will aggravate, perhaps dangerously, the Halls Rd environment.

2) There appeared to be no consideration given for a more limited, ‘modest’, less expensive improvement of Halls Rd, ie’, sidewalks, bike paths, a return of the pedestrian crossing bridge over the Lieutenant River, elimination of ‘leaning’ power line poles with unattractive heavy looping wires and electrical equipment. Maybe some street lighting, and buried wires?

3) One of the meeting attendees commented that she had lived in Nantucket for 25 years and, because of development, ‘Nantucket is no longer Nantucket’. Paraphrased, her concern was the extensive multi story commercial/residential development plan presented for Halls Rd would mean Old Lyme would no longer be Old Lyme. I think this was a shared feeling by many at the meeting.

Author: Ted Mundy

Unfortunately I did not attend the meeting. Nonetheless, the previous comments and SE Coast write-ups provide a good base of information.

Rule One for architects is to live in what they intend to design. Of course, this is impossible until built. However, they should visit at least twice during the calendar year. The first is a summer Friday night when I-95 gets jammed. The overflow of traffic makes 156 and Rt-1 very congested. If there is an accident southbound, Rt-1 after Exit 75 is backed up from Laysville south to the Hall’s Road traffic lights. Some traffic goes down Lyme Street, which is the heart of what makes Old Lyme great. Imagine shopping on Hall’s Road during these incidents. We avoid it.

The second time to visit is in early December. The town is relatively quiet especially the shore communities. One wonders how some of the Hall’s Road merchants make it at all. With the exception of the Big Y, foot traffic is slow in my judgment.

This gets to the final point. Do we want to change the character of Old Lyme? If the Mundys shop for goods other than necessities, we go on-line or visit Old Saybrook. Let’s leave Old Lyme the way it is and save government funds for infrastructure repair and reduce our tax burden.

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Residents Hear Initial Ideas on Halls Rd. Improvement from Yale Urban Design Team, Reactions Mixed: What do YOU Think?

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder addresses the audience in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School cafeteria during the Thursday evening meeting.

“Members of the Halls Road Improvements Committee and the Yale Urban Design Workshop met with the public Thursday evening to discuss the creation of a master development plan envisioning future improvements to Halls Road, the town’s main commercial district.

The committee, after holding a similar public discussion earlier this year, has been working …”

These are the opening sentences of an article by Mary Biekert titled Improvements to Old Lyme’s Halls Road discussed in public forum and published today on theday.com.  Read the full article at this link.

Editor’s Note: In pursuit of our mission of serving our community … let us know what YOU think of the Halls Rd. Improvement proposals?  Either post a comment with your thoughts here on LymeLine.com or send us an email with them to editor@lymeline.com

We’ll publish a summary of the comments we receive, but only naming the writer if you have given specific permission.

Thank you — we look forward to hearing from you!

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Public Meeting to Discuss Halls Rd. Improvements Master Plan to be Held This Evening

Halls Road — existing conditions 2018.

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) and the Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) will host another Community Meeting titled, ‘Halls Road Improvements: Introduction of Design Concepts and Community Workshop’ on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School cafeteria.

12/3 UPDATE: A regular HRIC meeting scheduled for that night has been cancelled.

Halls Road Improvements Committee Chairman Bennett (BJ) Bernblum told LymeLine.com that he is hoping for a good turnout at the event.  He noted that the Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW) will present their recommendations and options at the meeting and then will conduct a design workshop to stimulate feedback from the public.  Bernblum said he was aware in broad terms of the concepts that the YUDW was going to present, but the group was still working on details of the plans.

The Old Lyme BOS and the HRIC’s publicity flyer for the meeting states it is, “the next step towards creating a Master Plan for Halls Road. The Yale Urban Design Workshop in conjunction with the Halls Road Improvements Committee has been developing design options based on the community meeting held this past July.”

The flyer further notes the hope is that by seeking community participation, it will, “help us [the BOS and HRIC] move closer to an agreed-upon framework for future development at Halls Road.”

Looking back to the July meeting, the publicity poster for that meeting said, “Feedback at community meetings over the past two years has made it clear that developments along Halls Rd. need to be looked at in an integrated, long-term context.”  It continued, “In addition, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), which is a non-profit government/business joint effort, has offered to help collect economic and market data in support of the planning process.”

 

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Old Lyme Registrars Hold Final Voter Special Registration Session, Today

Mid-term elections are just around the corner on Tuesday, Nov. 6.  In order to maximize participation, the Old Lyme Registrars of Voters will hold their final special voter registration sessions at their office on the mezzanine level of Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall on Monday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

People can also register to vote Monday through Friday in the Town Clerk’s office if the Registrars are not available.

Absentee Ballots and Voter Registration Applications are available from the Town Clerk’s office — not through the Registrars.   Absentee Ballots will be available from the Town Clerk on Oct. 5.  For more information on Absentee Ballots, call the Town Clerk at 860-434-1605, ext. 221.

Oct. 30 is the last day for mail-in registration, on-line registration (until 11:59 p.m.), and in-person registration to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 election.

On-line voter registration is available 24/7 and is user-friendly. Visit www.voterregistration.ct.gov or the Secretary of the State’s website at www.SOTS.ct.gov, select Elections & Voting and then On-line registration.

On-line voter registration also allows voters to make changes to name, address, and/or party affiliation.

If you wish to know if — and how — you are registered, select Am I Registered to Vote? and then Voter Lookup Tool.

The only people who can register and be eligible to vote in the Nov. 6 election after Oct. 30 are those

  • who turn 18, or
  • become U.S. citizens, or
  • move into town

after Oct. 30 and on/before Nov. 6.  Persons in this category can apply for voter registration in the Registrar’s Office until 5 p.m. on Nov. 5.

The location for Election Day Registration (EDR) is the Registrars Office, Mezzanine Level, Town Hall, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

For more voter registration information, call (860) 434-1605 x 226 or email registrars@oldlyme-ct.gov

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Lymes’ Senior Center Artists to Display Their Art in Old Lyme Town Hall; Opening Reception, Nov. 9

Art groups from the Lymes’ Senior Center will hold their third annual holiday exhibit of their work for sale in Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall during November and December. The participating artists have been taking art classes with Sharon Schmiedel.

Paintings, drawings, and mixed media pieces will be on display. Additionally, two members of the Center’s community, Janet Cody and Peg Sheehan, will add a “Touch of Craft” with their work in traditional punch needle pieces and handmade jewelry of silver, gold and semi-precious and precious stones respectively. Another member, Norma DeGrafft, will also display her scenic watercolors in the Lyme Town Hall. A portion of any sale will be donated to the Lymes’ Senior Center.

An opening reception for this show will be held on Friday, Nov. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. in Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall. Light refreshments will be served.

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Old Lyme Zoning Approves Controversial HOPE Housing Project on Neck Rd. by 3-2 Vote

Zoning Commission members discuss the upcoming vote at Tuesday night’s meeting. Photos by Debra Joy.

By a vote of 3–2, the Old Lyme Zoning Commission Tuesday night approved the Neck Road affordable housing project known as River Oak Commons I and II.  Zoning Commission Chairman Jane Cable and commission members Gil Soucie and Alan Todd voted in favor of the proposal while commission members Jane Marsh and Paul Orzel voted against.

From left to right, Zoning Commission members Paul Orzel and Alan Todd discuss HOPE’s zoning application while Zoning Commission Alternate Harvey Gemme listens carefully.

Citing previous affordable-housing legal decisions as precedent, commission chair Jane Cable said that unless there is “hard evidence” that a proposed project is going to lead to a health and safety problem, the commission “cannot use opinion to bolster denial” of the project. “My feeling is the law requires us to approve [the project] unless there is hard evidence to deny.”

HOPE Executive Director Lauren Ashe (left) watches the proceedings at the meeting while HOPE board member Tom Ortoleva (right) and HOPE project attorney David Royston (second from right) check their phones.

Attorney for the Zoning Commission Matt Willis drafted two motions for this meeting:  one approving the project, and one denying it.  The motion to approve, which includes 17 conditions that must be met before construction may begin, was read aloud. Brief discussion followed, followed by the vote. The denying motion was not read aloud, Cable said, because the motion to approve passed.

Zoning Commission member Jane Marsh carefully studies a document during the hearing.

During the discussion, commission member Jane Marsh said, “I don’t think it’s the intention of the state legislature that we should rubber stamp” affordable housing projects. If that is the case, she asked, ‘Why are we even sitting here?’” Asked later whether public safety concerns voiced by citizens at numerous public hearings should have had some influence on the commission’s decision, Marsh said, “I believe we have a responsibility to consider the opinions” of the public. 

Old Lyme Zoning Commission Alternate Member Stacey Winchell (right) enjoys a lighter moment during the meeting.  Harvey Gemme sits to her left.

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who attended the meeting, said she hopes that the town “can heal” now, after what has been a contentious time for the zoning commission and town leadership. She added that it’s been “hard to watch the process, but I appreciate the focus that the zoning commission has given this application.”

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Old Lyme Zoning Meets Tonight, May Render Decision on HOPE Projects

The Old Lyme Zoning Commission meets this evening at 7:30 p.m. in Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall.  Discussion of the controversial Affordable Housing Applications for 18-1 and 18-2 Neck Road (formerly 16 Neck Road) for 23 and 14 dwelling units respectively and to be known respectively as River Oak Commons I and II  is on the agenda for the regular meeting.

It is unclear at the time of writing if the Commission plans to take a vote on whether or not to approve the projects at the meeting this evening. If we hear more on this during the day, we will update this article accordingly.

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Both Votes — Pump Station Lease, Solar Facility– Pass at Packed Old Lyme Town Meeting

More than 300 residents came out last night for a Special Town Meeting in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium and voted to pass proposals from the board of selectmen regarding a pump station lease and proposed solar facility.

The pump station will be sited on a portion of the Town-owned property at 72 Portland Ave. in Old Lyme.  The lease, which was presented by First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, includes access rights to the following:

  • the leased area
  • the Miami Beach Association,
  • the Old Lyme Shores Beach Association
  • the Old Colony Beach Association
  • each of their respective Water Pollution Control Authorities (the “Tenants”)

The lease will be for an initial term of 40 years from its commencement date, for the purpose of the construction, operation, and maintenance of a sanitary sewage pump station, underground piping, and related facilities by the Tenants.

The proposed lease terms and a map showing the proposed lease area are available on the WPCA page of the Town website  at www.oldlyme-ct.gov.

Residents also approved a resolution that the first selectwoman, on terms and conditions deemed by the Old Lyme Board of Selectmen to be commercially reasonable and in the best interests of the Town, and subject to the approval of the Town Attorney as to legality and form, is authorized to negotiate and enter into a Memorandum of Agreement and subsequent lease for an initial term of up to 25 years with a solar energy generation firm.

This firm must be legally qualified to produce and distribute solar energy in the State of Connecticut for the purpose of allowing the tenant to install, own and operate solar photovoltaic generation equipment (“Solar Facilities”) on some or all of the capped portion of the former landfill on the Town-owned property at 109 Four Mile River Road in Old Lyme, together with and for the term of the lease:

(i) an easement over, across and through Town Property outside the leased area as reasonably necessary to allow the tenant, its employees, invitees, agents, contractors and subcontractors to access the leased property and the Solar Facilities by vehicle, foot or otherwise, in such location(s) as shall be reasonably determined by mutual written agreement of the Board of Selectmen and the tenant;

(ii) an easement on Town property outside the leased area, as reasonably necessary for the sole purpose of servicing the solar facilities, to build, maintain, upgrade, install and relocate electrical lines, conduits, and disconnects running to and from the solar facilities and other equipment and communication facilities, including without limitation utility meters and switches, transformers, inverters, disconnects, reclosers, poles and switchboards, all of which shall be reasonably needed to operate the solar facilities, and all of which shall be located where reasonably determined by mutual written agreement of the board of selectmen and the tenant;

(iii) the right, license and privilege to use, as reasonably necessary, up to 15,000 square feet of Town property outside the leased area  as a temporary workspace for the placement and storage of equipment and materials during the construction and the removal of the solar facilities, the specific location of such temporary workspace to be agreed upon by mutual consent of the selectmen and the tenant prior to construction of the solar facilities.

Read a full report of the meeting by Kimberly Drelich and published yesterday on theday.com at this link.

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Old Lyme Selectmen Host Two Public Hearings on Proposed Leases; First Relates to Pump Station, Second to Solar Power

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen are conducting two public hearings Wednesday, Sept. 19, under Connecticut General Statutes section 7-163e. The first will commence at  7 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium at 53 Lyme St., and relates to a proposed lease of a portion of the Town-owned property at 72 Portland Ave., in Old Lyme.

The lease includes access rights to the leased area and to the Miami Beach Association, the Old Lyme Shores Beach Association, and the Old Colony Beach Association, and to each of their respective Water Pollution Control Authorities (the “Tenants”), for an initial term of 40 years from its commencement date. The purpose of obtaining the lease is to allow the construction, operation, and maintenance of a sanitary sewage pump station, underground piping, and related facilities by the Tenants.

Members of the public can review related documents at Old Lyme Town Hall in the selectman’s or town clerk’s office, or on the Town website at this link.

The second Public Hearing will start at  7:30 p.m. tomorrow evening at the same location and relates to a proposal to authorize the board of selectmen to negotiate and the first selectman to execute an MOA and subsequent lease of some or all of the capped portion of the of the Town-owned property at 109 Four Mile River Rd. in Old Lyme. This land is to be used for the installation and operation of solar power generating facilities, to include rights to access the leased area via and to install equipment and facilities necessary to the operation of the solar power facilities on, through and under other portions of the property at 109 Four Mile River Rd.

For more on this story, read Kimberly Drelich’s article published Sept. 18 on theday.com at this link.

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Old Lyme Zoning Hears Final Comments on HOPE’s Affordable Housing Proposal, Decision Now Pending

The Old Lyme Zoning Commission listens to comments from a member of the public at Monday night’s meeting.

More than 250 people filled the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium Monday evening to hear another round of comments from both the applicants and their attorney, and members of the public regarding the proposed 37-unit Affordable Housing development at 18-1 Neck Rd. (formerly 16 Neck Road). The applicants have submitted two separate applications for 23 and 14 dwelling units respectively known as River Oak Commons I and II.

Zoning Commission Chairman Jane Cable  (second from left) consults with a fellow commission member during the hearing.  Photo by Debra Joy.

Public comment was closed around 10:30 p.m. (thus meeting the legal requirement in terms of how long it can be held open) and the meeting ended without the commission taking a vote on either application.

Project Engineer Joe Wren (left) of Indigo Land Design of Old Saybrook makes a point to the attorney for the applicants, David Royston, at the end of the meeting.  Photo by Debra Joy.

The commission now has 65 days from the closing of the public hearing to deliberate and vote.

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After Receiving State Grant, Old Lyme to Undertake Historic Properties Survey

The Town of Old Lyme is planning to conduct a survey of historic properties in the town after receiving a grant of $30,000 from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to support the project.

The Request for Proposals for the project was issued in June of this year and can be viewed at this link.  Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal confirmed yesterday that only one application was received in response to the proposal.

A meeting will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6, at Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall to introduce and discuss the project, at which a SHPO representative will be present.

The board of selectmen first discussed the possibility of undertaking the survey at a Special Meeting held in November 2016.  The issue had been raised by the Old Lyme Historic District Commission, which had made a motion requesting a study of historic properties in the town.  At that time, the board of selectmen did not move forward on the issue.

Read our article published Nov. 21, 2016 about that Special Meeting at this link.

 

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Meeting Hall Packed to Hear, Question Latest Updates on Old Lyme’s Sewer Situation

Old Lyme WPCA Chairman Richard Prendergast, standing center with microphone in the far distance, gives his presentation last night with residents in the foreground standing in the foyer since all seats were taken in the Meeting Room.

More than 100 people packed Old Lyme Town Hall’s Meeting Room last night with some standing around the perimeter of the room and another 25 standing outside in the foyer to listen to the town’s Water Pollution Control Authority’s (WPCA) Chairman Richard Prendergast give a presentation on where things stood currently with the proposed installation of sewers in Old Lyme.

More to follow on this story later today.

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Community Meeting to Discuss Master Plan for Halls Rd. Improvements Held

Aerial view of Halls Rd. and Old Lyme.

The Old Lyme Board of Selectmen (BOS) and the Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) have announced a Community Meeting to discuss ‘Improvements for Halls Rd.’ on Wednesday, July 25, at 6:30 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School.

The BOS and HRIC state in their notice announcing the meeting that, “Feedback at community meetings over the past two years has made it clear that developments along Halls Rd. need to be looked at in an integrated, long-term context. At the recommendation of the Halls Road Improvements Committee, Old Lyme has retained the Yale Urban Design Workshop (YUDW) to help develop a proposed master plan for the area along Halls Rd.”

The notice continues, “In addition, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), which is a non-profit government/business joint effort, has offered to help collect economic and market data in support of the planning process,” adding, “The meeting will introduce YUDW and CERC to the public. Group break-out sessions will follow to allow discussion among attendees and presenters. The presenters are attending the meeting both to describe what they can do and also to ask the residents of Old Lyme what they hope to accomplish.”

 

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$1.75M Funding for Old Lyme Library Renovations Passes Easily in Packed Meeting

There was standing room only for some residents attending Monday night’s Special Town Meeting in Old Lyme.

UPDATED 7/24: FULL STORY NOW ADDED — More than 140 people packed into the Meeting Hall at Old Lyme Town Hall Monday evening to cast their votes on whether the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library should receive $1.75 million from the town coffers to fund its planned renovations.

Library Director Katie Huffman explained the library needs in part to be renovated due to the dramatic changes that have occurred in the way people gather information in the past 25 years, when the last renovation took place.  The advent of social media and smartphones, the decreasing cost of technology, and a dramatic increase in publishing and the availability of information have changed people’s information needs.

She said, “More and more people are coming in with their devices … more people are studying remotely.” adding, “people need space for Skype interviews and to take exams.”  She pointed out these changes have resulted in a 70 percent increase in reference questions since the new building opened in 1996, a 90 percent increase in library programs, and a 140 percent increase in attendance at those programs.

Library Building Committee Chairman Ken Biega addresses the audience.

Drayton Fair, a principal architect from LLB Architects in Pawtucket, R.I. opened by saying,”Public libraries are reasserting themselves,” noting, “They should be the best place in town, where everyone is welcome.”  He agreed with Huffman that the increase in programming has been exponential and then went on to describe the proposed changes to the library under the renovation, summing them up as “We kept the best and improved the rest.”

He noted the staff would be moved up to the second floor, there would be “areas for tutoring, private study and Skype,” and a new Young Adult Area, which would be “acoustically separate.”  Fair added the plans also called for “opening up the Children’s Room … consolidating the Reference and Circulation functions at a central desk … and the creation of an outdoor reading terrace.”  He concluded enthusiastically, “I hope you’re all as excited about this as we are.”

Library Building Committee Chairman Ken Biega explained the costs of the project saying the total project cost will be $3.05 million.  This cost will include both construction and soft costs, such as furnishings, technology, and shelving.  It also includes a built-in construction contingency fund.

Significantly, the library has secured a $1.0 million construction grant from the Connecticut State Library, thus dramatically reducing the impact of the funding required for the project on Old Lyme taxpayers.  Moreover, the library has committed to raising $300,000 through its own efforts and is requesting $1.75 million from the Town of Old Lyme. Biega raised a ripple of laughter in the audience when he commented, “Everyone has a little bit of skin in this game.”

First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder discussed the impact of the project on homeowners in Old Lyme.  She said the owner of a house appraised at $347, 200 would pay conservatively an additional $24 per tax year for the next 15 years.  The respective number for a house appraised at $540,200 would be $38.  Reemsnyder cautioned that the Town was “not definitely borrowing the full amount,” and that, if that were the case, Old Lyme taxpayers would pay less.

Library Board Chairman Lynn Fairfield-Sonn answers questions from the audience..

After a couple of quick questions from the audience answered by Library Board Chairman Lynn Fairfield-Sonn, residents voted first in a hand vote that McGarry called in favor of the Ayes.  One resident, however, wanted to know the exact count and so the vote was repeated with residents holding up cards denoting they had been approved as legitimate Old Lyme taxpayers.  When the hand votes had been counted, McGarry announced to loud applause that the motion had passed by 104 votes to 30.

Harbor Commission Chairman Steve Ross proposes the new ordinance, with First Selectwoman Reemsnyder and Attorney McGarry standing behind him.

The second motion established a new ordinance to amend the Town’s Harbor Management Plan.  Harbor Commission Chairman Steve Ross explained the Town “needed a variance if there is a hardship” and this ordinance will create a procedure for the Harbor Management Commission to recommend variances from the Harbor Use Zone Standards of the Plan to a state or local permitting authority in Old Lyme waters.

After Ross had made a motion to approve the ordinance, McGarry called for a show of hands. There was no call for vote count this time and the motion was carried by a convincing margin.

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