January 29, 2020

Updates Shared at Community Connections on Lyme Academy, Old Lyme Economic Development

More than 40 community members attended the Community Connections Networking Luncheon held Wednesday at the Old Lyme Country Club. All photos by Suzanne Thompson.

OLD LYME — Members of Lyme-Old Lyme non-profit, philanthropic and volunteer organizations heard first-hand updates Wednesday on two significant efforts that could shape the character and commerce of Old Lyme in coming years.

The Community Connections networking luncheon at the Old Lyme Country Club, attended by roughly 40 people, featured speakers from Lyme Academy of Fine Arts (LAFA) and the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission.

Lyme Academy Looks to the Future

Lyme Academy Executive Director Frank Burns and LAFA Board Member Sue Grey outlined the strategic planning process currently underway at the Academy. The 13-member volunteer Strategic Planning Committee made up of artists, educators and business leaders, has been meeting monthly to explore multiple short- and long-term collaborations with a broad range of arts, cultural and related organizations, businesses and enterprises.

“We’re trying to get back to where we were,” said Burns, who was appointed last summer to create a new business model for the institution, subsequent to the University of New Haven’s (UNH) decision to no longer include the academy as part of its institution. This includes seeking accreditation status again, something the academy had previously achieved when it became a college in 1996. When UNH took over Lyme Academy College in 2014, the College remained accredited under the UNH banner but with the announced withdrawl of UNH in 2018 (classes ended in 2019), that accreditation has been lost.

Burns said that while none of the 12 organizations, which were initially contacted to explore continuing the accreditation, expressed interest in 2018, there has been some new willingness at this time. Burns told LymeLine in a phone call Friday morning that the Strategic Planning Committee is in discussion with a number of institutions, which are reviewing the Academy’s courses and may enter into some form of joint programming arrangement with the Academy. He said if that were to happen, the Academy, “may be able to offer college credit under their [the partnering institution’s] name,” but stressed that discussions were ongoing and nothing was yet agreed.

Lyme Academy Executive Director Frank Burns stands behind Board Member Sue Grey as she addresses the audience. Community Connections Planning Committee member Jean Wilczynski is to the left.

“We are looking at all sorts of short-term and long-term collaborations with the arts world,” said Grey, who has an extensive background in strategic planning for non-profits and businesses, large and small, citing artists collaborations in other shoreline communities. She explained that the goal is to develop plans that respect and support the history, brand, mission and vision of the art academy so the emphasis is on longer-term sustainability and momentum. She noted the board is not immediately expecting to fill the academy’s 42,000 square feet of usable interior space.

Grey said she hopes to present workable recommendations to the board around May 1, although she welcomed any late-breaking ideas or proposals in the coming weeks.

Lyme Academy Board Member Sue Grey (seated in black) listens to Old Lyme EDC Co-Chair Howard Margules’s presentation.

“We’re trying to find partners that would be compatible with the academy and would fit with the town,” Burns said, noting that the academy does not own residential housing, and the board is not interested in getting into the housing market. While this poses challenges for artists-in-residence programs, he said the board recognizes the opportunities for continuing education programs that fit with the region’s aging demographics.

Burns reported that the Academy has been signed an agreement with The France Foundation, an Old Lyme-based continuing education provider for health care professionals, for the Foundation to lease just under 6,000 square feet of space in the Chandler Academic Center, which served as the former College’s administrative center. Burns mentioned in Friday’s phone conversaion that the Foundation is moving into the space this coming weekend.

“We want to be actively involved in the community,” he emphasized, citing the academy’s pumpkin painting venture with Lyme-Old Lyme Schools’ students in October last year and how the Academy became a destination for families on Halloween. He also noted that the Academy was the site of Old Lyme’s annual tree-lighting ceremony in this past December and said more community arts activities, including ones based around Valentine’s Day and Easter themes, are in the works.

Next Steps for Old Lyme’s Economic Development

Musical Masterworks Administrative Director Rick Wyman checks the agenda while Old Lyme EDC Co-Chair Howard Margules speaks from the podium.

Economic development in Old Lyme is much more than pure economics, Howard Margules, co-chair of the Old Lyme Economic Development Commission (EDC), told the group. It embraces the values of the community and the town’s legacy. This includes arts and culture, maintaining a vibrant community that can continue to support these, and both an increased walkability and connectivity of discrete parts of town.

Margules outlined the effort undertaken by the EDC in past months. This includes a survey of residents and businesses and two SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis workshops conducted by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC) with community stakeholders, including business owners, non-profit organization leaders, clergy and interested residents.

Public participation in the online survey was record-breaking with 680 residents and 110 businesses responding, said Margules. Significantly, CERC staff said this was by far the highest response rate in town surveys since 150 responses would have been a more typical number, based on the postcard mailing and local outreach. He noted that 70 percent of responses were from people over 50-years-old.

An open Question & Answer session after the presentations drew active participation from the audience.

While data is still being analyzed before the full survey results and recommendations from CERC are made public, Margules said the EDC has given Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold a preliminary review.

Margules then went on to share highlights of the survey results with the Community Connections audience, noting first that most respondents said they wanted more shopping and dining in town, but that there also was a loud and consistent message to retain the character of Old Lyme.

“People overwhelmingly told us they want more development on Halls Road,” he said, pointing out that a majority responded positively while only 19 percent opposed any additional development there. Almost 75 percent of respondents said they wanted more green space in the Halls Road area. Meanwhile, businesses responded that they wanted more and better promotion, more of a town center, and to attract more younger people.

While there currently is no Halls Road plan, he mentioned that the next steps will be to come up with a master plan, which would require appropriate zoning changes. Development would be done primarily by the private property owners.

“The idea of ‘Let’s do nothing’ will not hold up,” Margules said firmly in respect of Halls Road and the town’s retail areas.

Commenting that,“Housing is a very muddled response,” he noted that respondents appear to support more affordable housing options for downsizing seniors and also college students, who wish to return to town but not be living in their parents’ basement.

Once completed, the CERC reports will be shared publicly. A final piece still to be undertaken is an extensive feasibility study. This will include specific recommendations of the kinds of retail and housing, based on survey responses and available areas in Old Lyme, and what has worked in other similar communities in the region and state.

Since the EDC operates without a budget and Old Lyme does not have a professional town planner, Margules said next steps include addressing how the recent surveys, SWOTs and recommendations will be utilized and incorporated into the town’s planning, zoning and economic development strategies.

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Needleman Appointed Senate Vice Chair of Planning & Development Committee

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

HARTFORD/LYME — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), whose District includes the Town of Lyme, has been appointed Senate Vice Chair of the Planning & Development Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly by Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). As a condition of this appointment,  which as announced Tuesday, Sen. Needleman will step down from his position as Senate Vice Chair of the Banking Committee.

Sen. Needleman’s appointment to this committee is in addition to his existing roles as Senate Chair of the Energy & Technology Committee and membership in the Commerce Committee, Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee and Transportation Committee.

“I look forward to starting work on the Planning & Development Committee, working to improve and streamline processes to assist our state’s municipalities and support further development in Connecticut,” said Sen. Needleman. “I would like to thank Senator Looney for his appointment and am excited to continue my work in the upcoming Legislative Session.”

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Judge Tells Miami Beach Association to Take Down Its Fence, Stop Charging Fees

OLD LYME — In perhaps the longest running dispute in Old Lyme, a judge gave a ruling in a 17-page Memorandum of Decision dated yesterday.

Karen Florin of The Day writes in today’s print edition of the paper, “New London Superior Court Judge Kimberly A. Knox, ruling in favor of residents of neighboring Sound View Beach, ordered the Miami Beach Association on Wednesday to take down a black chain-link fence it had erected at the end of the 2016 beach season and to stop charging people a “clean beach fee” to sit on the 800-foot stretch of sand.”

Read the full article titled “Judge: Old Lyme beach fence must come down” and published yesterday evening on theday.com at this link

 

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Asked to Consider Purchase of Lyme Academy-Owned 26+ Acres on Lyme St.

Aerial photo of the 26.31 acres for sale by Lyme Academy of Fine Arts taken from the Lyman Real Estate property listing and published with their permission.

OLD LYME — As part of its reinvention efforts over the past several months, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts officials recently approached the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education inquiring whether the district would be interested in purchasing academy-owned land abutting the public school campus off Lyme Street.

The academy owns approximately 39 acres of land across the street from its main campus, which is also on Lyme Street. Approximately 26 acres of that land has been listed for $5 million through the Lyman Real Estate group

Read the full story by Mary Biekert and published Jan. 10 on TheDay.com at this link.

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Suisman Shapiro Joins With Avena & Kepple, Opens Satellite Office in Pawcatuck

Attorney James P. Berryman

Attorney John A. Collins III

NEW LONDON/OLD LYME — Suisman Shapiro, which is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut and also serves as the Town Attorney for the Town of Old Lyme, has joined forces with Avena & Kepple, LLC of Pawcatuck, R.I.

John ‘Jack’ A. Collins III and James ‘Jay’ P. Berryman are both Old Lyme residents and Directors of Suisman Shapiro.

Attorneys Robert A. Avena and Nicholas F. Kepple will serve as Directors in the firm’s municipal law department, also practicing in the areas of real estate, estate planning, business organization, land use and administrative law. They will be resident in Suisman Shapiro’s new satellite office at 20 South Anguilla Road, Pawcatuck, CT.

“We are pleased to announce the merger of two prominent law firms that collectively represent many of our region’s municipalities,” said Attorney Robert Tukey, Managing Partner at Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law. “Together, we will offer even deeper legal resources to our local communities by combining our capabilities in diverse practice areas including personal injury, divorce, workers’ compensation, estate planning, business services, and many other areas of the law,” Tukey added.

Robert A. Avena has served as a Waterford town attorney for the past 19 years and has served as town attorney in numerous southeastern Connecticut towns throughout his legal practice. He has advised municipalities regarding aspects of municipal law and litigated substantial cases in the Superior and Appellate Court of Connecticut, principally representing Town tax assessors, planning and zoning commissions, wetlands commissions, and zoning boards of appeal.

During his practice for individual clients, Attorney Avena was involved in the permitting process for the Pfizer Research Campus expansion and opening of the Mashantucket Pequot Casino.

Nicholas F. Kepple was admitted to practice in 1989 following his service as Selectman and First Selectman of the Town of Stonington. He has focused his practice on estate planning and municipal law, representing many Eastern Connecticut communities as Town Attorney including Waterford, Eastford, Voluntown, Franklin, Salem, Canterbury, Sterling, Windham, Plainfield, North Stonington and the Borough of Stonington.

In addition to practicing law, Attorney Kepple has served for over eight years as the Judge of Probate for the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Probate District which encompasses Groton, Ledyard, Stonington and North Stonington.

Suisman Shapiro is the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut, serving the community for over 75 years with a wide range of legal services.

Editor’s Note: Suisman Shapiro Attorneys at Law is located at 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591, New London CT 06320. Its new satellite office is at 20 South Anguilla Road, Pawcatuck, CT 06379. For further information call (860) 442-4416  or visit www.suismanshapiro.com.

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Our Top 20 Stories of 2019

Articles and op-ed’s related to the Old Lyme election dominated our Top 20 most read stories of 2019. This photo shows First Selectman Tim Griswold, who was elected in November, and former First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who lost per place on the board in the same election.

LYME/OLD LYME — Looking back over our most widely read stories in 2019 for Lyme and Old Lyme, it’s really no surprise that stories and op-ed’s related to the Old Lyme election dominated our Top 20.

Other topics featured in our Top 20 included the outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), which ultimately claimed the life of an Old Lyme resident, the proposed and now withdrawn (for the moment) plan by the Governor to impose a new regionalization structure on Connecticut public schools, the Sound View sewer referendum, and discussions relating to the future of Halls Rd.

Our top two stories however, were centered on Lyme, where Dexter the German short-haired pointer went missing, and sadly — as far as we know — was never found, and in another unfortunate affair, a luxury sailboat sank in Hamburg Cove.

While Lyme had a relatively quiet and uncontroversial election season in which, at the end of the day, the Democrats saw all their candidates elected or re-elected, Old Lyme went through a bitter and hard-fought election, which ultimately drew the highest percentage turnout (36.7 percent according to figures published by Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill) in the state.  In a sea-change of town government, former Old Lyme Selectman Tim Griswold – a Republican, who was not even on the ballot when it was originally announced – unseated incumbent Democrate Bonnie Reemsnyder for the top spot and fellow Republicans swept into power pretty much across the board.  Election stories came in at 3rd, 5th, 7th, 18th, 19th and 20th.

The distressing EEE situation was covered in articles, which came in respectively at 4th, 8th and 17th place, while a piece on the Town of Old Lyme’s 300-acre land purchase from the McCulloch family notched 6th spot. The land acquired is intended to become Open Space apart from six acres designated for Affordable Housing.

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser’s comments on the state’s forced school regionalization proposal came in at 9th place closely followed by one of our favorite stories, which was about the work of Jennifer Tiffany and Bill Hurtle to re-launch the former Lyme Farmers Market as The Farmers Market at Tiffany farms.

Articles on the controversial sewer proposal for Sound View and subsequent referendum took 11th, 13th and 14th places while the 12th spot was taken by an optimistic piece on the re-birth of Lyme Academy of Fine Arts – once again an independent academy and no longer a college of the University of New Haven – as it moves forward in the world.

Our list is rounded out with the announcement of the death of Candy Green, former owner of the Old Lyme Inn and Rooster Hall, who passed away in February 2019, which garnered 15th place and the list of Frequently Asked Questions wriiten by the Halls Rd. Improvement Committee, which took the 16th spot.

This is also a perfect time to acknowledgeagain  the contributions of our loyal band of columnists, the majority of whom have been writing for us for many years.  Jim Cameron writes lucidly about a great variety of  transportation matters, Felix Kloman offers incisive reviews of books galore, Lee White tempts our palates with the most wonderful recipes, and Nicole Prevost Logan writes with a Paris perspective on European — sometimes global — affairs.  Two new columnists have recently joined their ranks; Doris Coleman takes a look at the fascinating facts and figures recorded by Old Lyme Emergency Services and Tom Gotowka writes about the always interesting view from his porch.

We thank them all sincerely for their terrific columns.

 

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A Christmas Essay: Food For Thought At Christmas

When it comes to food, we all have different Christmas traditions some of which have evolved over the years and some which have never changed for generations. Photo by Dilyara Garifullina on Unsplash.

Editor’s Note: We are delighted to re-publish this wonderful timely piece by our friend, the acclaimed writer, Linda Ahnert, of Old Lyme. She wrote it way back in 2005 but it remains just as topical today … perhaps, even more so with the impending release tomorrow of director Greta Gerwig’s new version of “Little Women”!

Yes, Virginia, there can be too much of a good thing. That’s especially true during the Yuletide.

All that over-spending, all the over-eating, and all those over-decorated houses. That is why, last year at this time, I went back to several books I first read in childhood to look for Christmases just like the ones I used to know. Yes, I found tidings of comfort and joy. I also realized the importance of food in these stories and in our own Christmas memories.

One of the books, “Little Women,” is the classic about the four March sisters growing up in New England. As the story opens, it is a Christmas during the Civil War and the March family is living in straightened circumstances. But when the girls hear of a needy family in the neighborhood, they gladly give up their Christmas breakfast to feed the hungry children. Even self-centered Amy sacrifices her favorite things—“the cream and the muffins.”

Jo March laments that “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” And for most of us, Christmas wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have some particular food in the house during the season.

For instance, one of my early food memories of Christmas is tangerines and walnuts. My paternal grandparents came to this country from Germany. On Christmas Eve, everyone would gather at their home. I remember my grandfather playing the mandolin and singing “Stille Nacht” and other German carols. My grandmother decorated the buffet in the dining room with evergreen boughs. Interspersed in the greens were tangerines and all varieties of nuts in the shell. Before we left, my grandmother would stuff our mittens with the fruit and nuts.
Another family that I spent many hours with as a child were the Ingalls in the “Little House” books. How I loved reading about the adventures of Laura, Mary, Carrie, Ma and Pa as they crossed the prairie. The author, Laura Ingalls Wilder, describes the delight of the children one Christmas morning. The girls have reached into their stockings to find shiny tin cups and each has a “long, long stick” of peppermint candy, striped red and white.

But their stockings weren’t empty yet. The girls pull out small packages and unwrap them to discover heart-shaped cakes. “Over their delicate brown tops was sprinkled white sugar. The sparkling grains lay like tiny drifts of snow.” It might be a simple Christmas on the frontier but the girls can’t imagine being any happier.

Across the pond in merrie old England, Charles Dickens included numerous descriptions of food in “A Christmas Carol.” You may not look forward to your weekly trips to the A & P but, trust me, your mouth will water reading Dickens’ descriptions of the produce in the London grocery shops at Christmas.

And who could forget the account of the Cratchit Christmas dinner? (“There never was such a goose.”) To complement this “feathered phenomenon,” Mrs. Cratchit “made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot, Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigor, Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple sauce …”

Bob Cratchit rolled up his threadbare sleeves and “compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round, and put it on the hob to simmer.” In 21st century parlance … I’ll have what they’re having.

Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” is an autobiographical story set in rural Alabama in the 1930s. It opens on a November morning when the elderly cousin who is raising seven-year-old Buddy announces that “It’s fruitcake weather!” For Buddy this means the official start of the Christmas season. They begin the yearly ritual of gathering pecans in an old buggy and scrimping together their meager funds to buy the ingredients to bake 30 fruitcakes. For days “eggbeaters whirl, spoons spin round in bowls of butter and sugar, vanilla sweetens the air, ginger spices it; melting, nose-tingling odors saturate the kitchen, suffuse the house, drift out to the world on puffs of chimney smoke.” When the work is done, the “cakes, dampened with whiskey, bask on window sills and shelves.”

In our family, too, the holiday season begins on a November day. A week or two before Thanksgiving, we receive a package of pecans from Louisiana. They are from the trees in my aunt’s yard and she sends them each year in time to bake our holiday desserts. My mother was born and raised in Louisiana and it wouldn’t be Christmas in our house without cornbread and pecan pies.

And so, gentle readers, whether your Christmas traditions include roasting chestnuts on an open fire or whipping up a batch of wassail, may God bless us, everyone.

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Celebrating the Official Start of Major Upgrades to the Old Lyme Library

Dignitaries at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library prepare to break ground at the ceremony. From left to right, Library Board member Michaelle Pearson, Library Board Immediate Past President Alan Poirier, Roger Smith, Library Board President Kirsten Sicuranza, Thomas Britt, and Library Board member & Renewal Project Committee Chairman Ken Biega. All photos by James Meehan except where indicated.

OLD LYME — On Nov. 21, Old Lyme-Phoebe Giffin Noyes Library representatives, local officials, and a host of community members gathered around an impressive griffin dirt sculpture carved out by local artist Kristen Thornton in front of the historic 1898 Library entrance to commemorate the beginning of construction.

Shovels at the ready.

The groundbreaking ceremony was emceed by Building Committee Chair Ken Biega. Board President Kirsten Sicuranza remarked on the importance of keeping the Library current and its role as Old Lyme’s vibrant cultural hub. Katie Huffman, the Library Director, spoke to the many people involved in the vision, planning and financing of project.

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) stands at front right of this gathering of local dignitaries, which includes Library Board Treasurer David Kelsey (third from left) and Library Board member Ned Perkins (second from right.)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd) was on hand to talk about the importance of libraries and the value they bring to communities. Tim Griswold, Old Lyme’s First Selectman, concluded the ceremony by recalling important milestones in Phoebe’s history and the Ludington family’s role in her origins.

Pat Proctor (center) pictured with Library staff Katie Balocca (left) and Linda Alexander (right) where the tree once stood in the center garden. Picture provided by Library.

Many hands were busy at work in the weeks preceding the beginning of construction. On Nov. 1, members of the Garden Committee, with the help of Martin Griswold, transplanted the small maple tree located in the parking lot garden. This Cutleaf Japanese Maple was given by the Library’s Friends group in 2008 to honor a very special person—Pat Proctor, a longtime Chair of the Friends Council. Proctor was present to watch the tree be nestled into its new home on the front lawn and was thrilled the tree was receiving such good care.

The griffin sculpture carved out of dirt by local artist Kristen Thornton is clearly visible in the foreground of the photo, which shows those attending the groundbreaking ceremony gathering for its start.

Work on the renovations officially began Monday, Nov. 11. Workers demolished the Library’s parking lot and circle garden and began preparing the ground for an expanded lot featuring nine additional spots. A new garden will be located in the front of the Library; this garden will feature native plants and will be home to the commemorative pavers people are purchasing to support the Renewal Project. The Library has already sold over 150 pavers.

From left to right, Old Lyme Board of Finance Chairman Andy Russell, Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold, and State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) prepare to break ground at the ceremony.

To help encourage town-wide support for the project, the Kelsey Family along with Roger and Marcia Smith originally pledged an addition $40,000 to support the Library’s future if $200,000 was raised by Dec. 3. They recently extended their deadline to Dec. 31 — see note at foot of this article regarding how to purchase a paver.

On Nov. 14, Ms. Julie, the Children’s Librarian, took full advantage of all the construction activity and read books on bulldozers, front-end loaders and rollers. The children especially enjoyed their story-times that day, with the added bonuses of real live equipment noise in the background, which they listened to through the window (see photo above) followed by a viewing of the work in progress.

Work began on the Library’s interior Monday, Nov. 18. The first round of work will target the new staff offices, the second floor space, the historic 1898 Reading Room, and the BookCellar. This first phase of the work will continue through January, after which more dramatic changes will occur in the Children’s Room and Circulation Desk spaces. The Library will continue to remain open throughout the project, although services will be limited at times.

Asked how it felt to be finally starting the renovation project in the sense of “shovels in the ground,” Library Director Katie Huffman told LymeLine.com ebuliently, “After three years of planning, it’s so thrilling to see these changes finally taking place. We’re so pleased that the first item of business was one of our patrons’ most requested updates–more parking!”

From left to right, Claudia Condon, Joan Overfield, Kirsten Sicuranza, Lynn Fairfield-Sonn, Leslie Massa, and Mary Haymann prepare to break ground.

Editor’s Note: Complete details on how to purchase a paver or make a donation can be found at www.thanksphoebe.org. The pavers will always be available for purchase to celebrate family milestones, but purchasing a paver now has two added benefits for the Library as follows:
⦁ The purchase will be included in the renewal project campaign
⦁ If you give by Dec. 31, your gift can help the Library earn a generous financial match that the Kelsey and [Roger and Marcia] Smith families have put on the table as an incentive to help the Library reach their ambitious $200,000 goal.

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Death of Marc MacDonald Announced; Old Lyme HS, USCGA Graduate

James Marc MacDonald
September 5, 1946 – November 3, 2019

James Marc MacDonald

Marc MacDonald crossed over the bar one last time after a long battle with cancer. He was born to parents Elmer and Irene (Thorp) MacDonald in Norwell, MA, and moved to Old Lyme, CT with his family in 1962. He graduated Old Lyme High School in 1964 and the United States Coast Guard Academy in 1968.

Marc embarked on a 30 year Coast Guard career, obtaining the rank of Captain. His Coast Guard duties took him all over the world from Antarctica to the Seychelles Islands. He had extended duty stations in Hawaii, Japan and Guam. His final assignment was Captain of the Port of San Francisco, where he excelled at his primary specialty Marine Safety.

Following his retirement from the Coast Guard, he had a 13 year career as the Vice President of Safety for Pacific Maritime Association in San Francisco. He was a longtime member of the National Maritime Safety Association, serving on its Board of Directors and Technical Committee.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Jean Kehoe MacDonald of Alameda CA, his two sons, Jason and his wife Melanie of Midlothian, VA, and Greg and his wife Melanie of Lincoln, CA and his three grandchildren; Ian, Paige and Michael. He is also survived by two brothers; John MacDonald of Old Lyme and Matthew MacDonald of Lyme and a sister Marsha MacDonald of The Villages, FL.

In his final years, Marc enjoyed volunteering at The Crucible, an industrial arts center in Oakland, CA. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that donations be made, in his name, to The Crucible to support their youth programs.

Marc will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.

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Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Move Forward with Plans for $2.3 Million Artificial Turf Field

This playing field behind Lyme-Old Lyme High School is the proposed site of the turf field.

OLD LYME — The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education is moving forward with a plan to build a more than $2 million artificial turf athletic field, a project school officials say will conserve groundwater without placing a burden on taxpayers.

Superintendent Ian Neviaser said last week that the board has almost amassed enough money in the district’s undesignated capital expense fund to build the field. For the past two decades, the district has typically funneled 1 percent of its annual budget into the fund to help finance larger projects and avoid budget increases or the need to bond, he said.

The fund balance is currently …

Read the full article by Mary Biekert and published on theday.com Dec. 9 at this link.

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Senator Murphy’s Vote Was Not Counted in Old Lyme Election

OLD LYME — It was one of the most hotly-contested local elections in the state, but not everyone’s ballot was counted.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy voted by absentee ballot in the Nov. 5 election, but his vote was not counted because — unbeknownst to the senator — his name had been moved to the inactive voter list.

Shortly after his election to the U.S. Senate …

Read the full article written by Christine Stuart and published Nov. 26 on CTNewsJunkie.com at this link.

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State Rep. Carney Named Environmental Champion by Connecticut League of Conservation Voters

State Rep. Devin Carney (R- 23rd)

HARTFORD – (from a press release) The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) have recognized State Representative Devin Carney (R-23), naming him an Environmental Champion for his efforts and support of proposals that focus on various green initiatives throughout the state.

Each year, the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters release an Environmental Scorecard and names “Environmental Champions,” legislators who advocated for particular pro-environment bills. Only 16 legislators received this designation and Rep. Carney’s leadership on clean energy legislation was highlighted.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by the League of Conservation Voters as an Environmental Champion,” saidRep. Carney. As the State Representative for an environmentally precious district, I was proud to advocate for and support many pieces of legislation to improve and protect Connecticut’s environment. As the Co-Chair of the Clean Energy Caucus, I was proud of the work I was able to achieve, particularly involving solar net-metering. I look forward to continuing making environmentally-friendly legislation a priority.”

The organization stated Rep. Carney was “instrumental in passing the temporary fix for solar net-metering that became part of the Green Economy Act (HB 5002) and that “he also argued for a more comprehensive set of clean energy policies to grow our economy and address our climate crisis.”

In addition, Rep. Carney also co-sponsored two other environment-related bills during this legislative session. SB-753 expands the statewide fracking ban to apply to all gas and oil extraction activities and HB-7156 to authorize the procurement of energy derived from offshore wind. Both bills passed and were signed into law by the governor earlier this summer.

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We’re Starting a New Monthly Column Today! Facts & Figures From Old Lyme EMS

You’ve seen their ambulances around town but do you know how many calls they respond to in a month?

OLD LYME — We’re delighted to launch a new monthly column today and we are indebted to Doris Coleman for making it happen.  She is a member of the Old Lyme Ambulance Association (OLAA) and came up with the idea of sharing the OLAA monthly statistics related to calls provided to the community with our readers.

She then discussed the idea extensively with her colleagues and ultimately they took a vote on the proposal, which passed successfully.

So here we are ready to share the statistics for the first month, September 2019, but Coleman has decided she would go the extra mile and give us an extra snippet of information related to the OLAA each month.

For this inaugural column, she has chosen to explain how the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were formed.
The idea of creating an EMS evolved from the care of wounded soldiers in time of war coupled with the need for transportation of civilian accident victims who were being transported to hospital by Department of Transportation police officers or firefighters.
In 1966, the National Association of Sciences published the groundbreaking work, Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society, which revolutionized the way we view and manage care in this country. Hospitals and doctors felt that these injury victims should be medically treated during transportation, but only approximately 8 percent of medical service providers at that time were trained in basic first aid by organizations such as the American Red Cross and 23 percent in advanced EMS skills.
In 1970, the National Registry of EMTs (NR-EMTs) was formed but only 1,520 of the registered personnel were trained as EMTs in the United States. By 1973, all states trained their EMTs to a national standard set by NR-EMT. Today, there are over 20,000 EMS providers in just Connecticut alone.
For the month of September 2019, Old Lyme EMS ambulance responded to 63 calls:
Falls                                    14
Pain /sickness                  13
Injuries                                2
Diabetic problems             2
Breathing problems          6
Abdominal pain                 1
Chest pain                           1
Cardiac arrest                     1
Stroke (CVA)                       3
Altered mental status        9
Traffic accidents  (MVA)   6
Medical device alarms       2
Hazardous material            1
Stand-by                                1
Lift assist                               1
TOTAL                             63
*CVA: cerebro-vascular accident
*MVA: motor vehicle accident
For the month of October 2019, the Old Lyme EMS Ambulance Service responded to 73 calls. The number of runs increased by 10 over the previous month. Breathing problems nearly doubled compared to September, probably due to the fall season increasing the prevalence of hay fever, which in turn, can exacerbate the health of people suffering from compromised lung diseases.
Falls                                12
Pain/sickness                13
Injuries                            0
Diabetic problems         0
Breathing problems      11
Abdominal                       2
Chest pain                        8
Cardiac arrest                  0
Stroke/CVA                      2
Altered mental status     4
Traffic acc./MVA             8
Medical device alarms    3
Hazardous material        0
Stand-by                            0
Lift assist                           0
Fire                                     2
Cold exposure                   1
Convulsion/seizure         2
Unconscious/fainting     3
Allergic reaction               1
Overdose                            1
TOTAL:                         73
*CVA: cerebro-vascular accident
*MVA: motor vehicle accident

The above terms and categories will be elaborated on in future monthly articles.

If you have an interest in volunteering with the Old Lyme Ambulance or would like to find out more about their work, you are welcome to stop by the Ambulance Association on Cross Lane, Old Lyme, or call 860-434-0089.
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Lyme Land Trust to Rename Moulson Pond Fishway in Honor of Former Board Member, Land Trust President Linda Bireley.

LYME — The Lyme Land Trust will rename the Moulson Pond Fishway in honor of former board member and Land Trust President Linda Bireley.  Ms. Bireley, lover of the environment and the preserves of Lyme, passed away Nov. 8, 2019.

She served on the board of directors of the Lyme Land Trust for more than 10 years, as president from 2006-2007.  As stewardship committee chair, she worked to develop many of the trails in Lyme and developed a digitized stewardship monitoring program.

Ms. Bireley spearheaded the campaign to build three fish ladders in Lyme, most notably the Moulson Pond fish ladder. She was the first Town of Lyme Open Space Coordinator, from 2006 until 2014, when she was forced to retire due to illness.

The Lyme Land Trust notes in a press release, “We in Lyme were very fortunate to have had Linda,  a woman with such a dedicated and generous spirit, serving on our behalf. Moreover, she was a beloved and admired friend.”

Calling hours are Friday, Nov. 15, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Lyme Fire Department, Rte. 156, Lyme.

The full obituary is published at this link 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposed new text of Section 4.3 of Tidal Waters Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ReProposed zoning text amendments to Section 4.3, Tidal Waters protection 

Dear Chairman Cable and Commissioners

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

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

Positive Features of the Proposed Zoning Text Amendments

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

Potential Concerns with the Proposed Zoning Text Amendments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subject:  Section 4.3 Proposed Amendment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Old Lyme Boys Advance to Second Round of State Soccer Contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Death of LymeLine Contributor, Former NY State Senator Jerome ‘Jerry’ Wilson Announced

The late Jerome (Jerry) L. Wilson.

ESSEX — It is with great sadness that we report the passing of our beloved contributor, Jerome ‘Jerry’ L. Wilson. Mr. Wilson, 88, passed away Friday, Nov. 1, in Essex. We have not yet heard the details of services for Mr. Wilson but will publish them as soon as we receive them.

Mr. Wilson was a great supporter of our online news ventures and contributed more article and photos to ValleyNewsNow.com and LymeLine.com than we can count. Coincidentally, Mr. Wilson was room-mates at Colgate University with John ‘Jack’ Turner, who was the founder of LymeLine.com in 2003. Most of Mr. Wilson’s articles were published on ValleyNewsNow.com, which was founded by Lon Seidman in 2009. Both sites are now owned by Shoreline Web News LLC.

Mr. Wilson was passionate about the importance of local news and determined to keep it very much on the front burner.  He would pursue stories with the grit of a rookie journalist, never giving up until he had answers or comments from everyone he believed should be involved. A character in every way imaginable, Mr. Wilson had a heart of gold and we will miss him dearly.

He led a storied career as a Democratic State Senator from Manhattan, an on-air political correspondent and editor for WCBS-TV, and a lawyer. He was perhaps best known for his determined and ultimately successful efforts to change the New York state law, which required a spouse to prove adultery as the sole way to gain a divorce. New York was the only remaining state in the country with this provision when then Senator Wilson took up the issue. By the time the new law was passed in September 1967 with Sen. Wilson leading the state judicial committee that had proposed it, four additional grounds for divorce had been added.

This past Tuesday, Nov. 5, the New York Times published an article about Mr. Wilson at this link by NYT Obituaries Reporter Sam Roberts.

We extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Wilson’s wife Ulla, his four daughters, two stepsons, six grandchildren, and four step-grandchildren.

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

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

FIRST SELECTMAN:

Bonnie Reemsnyder (D): 1,403

*Tim Griswold (R): 1,774

SELECTMAN:

*Mary Jo Nosal (D): 1,495

*Chris Kerr (R): 1,676

TREASURER:

Reiter (D): 1430

Griswold (R): 1691

TAX COLLECTOR:

Michaelson (D): 1262

*Tooker (R): 1905

BOARD OF FINANCE:

Rubino (D): 1361

Sturges (R): 1768

Reiter (D): 1367

*Kelsey (R): 1695

BOARD OF FINANCE ALTERNATES:

*Burrows (D): 1532

*Read (R): 1921

Taliento (D): 1430

*Olson (D): 1777

BOARD OF ASSESSMENT APPEALS

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

PLANNING COMMISSION
5-Year Term beginning 2019

Klose (D): 1347

*Ross: (R): 1712

5-Year Term beginning 2020

Lampos: 1409

*Thompson: 1662

ZONING COMMISSION:
5-Year Term beginning 2019

Gemme: 1267

*Tinnerello: 1721

5-Year Term beginning 2020

Cable: 1366

*Miller: 1609

ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
5-Year Term beginning 2019

Lowry (D): 1357

*Hutchinson (U): 1616

5-Year Term beginning 2019

Tracey (D): 1389

*Dix (R): 1558

Alternates

*Carney (R): 2174

*Johnston (R): 2007

REGION 18 BOARD OF EDUCATION

Bowman (D): 1471

*Thompson (R): 1600

Panzara-Griswold (D): 1400

*Miller (R): 1512

Kemp (R): 1341

*Wilson (R): 1518

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

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

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

Tim Griswold (R): 1,774

Bonnie Reemsnyder (D): 1,403

Mary Jo Nosal (D): 1,495

Chris Kerr (R): 1,676

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

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