July 25, 2014

Join a Business Breakfast Today to Discuss Sound View Changes, All Welcome

The Town of Old Lyme and the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce are hosting a business breakfast this Wednesday, July 16, from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Shoreline Community Center on Hartford Avenue.  Topics under discussion will include:

  • Sound View: Changes Ahead
  • Sound View Bike Path/Revitalization
  • Coastal Wastewater Management Project

All are welcome to this free event and a continental breakfast will be provided.

Free parking will be available in the Community Center parking lot across the street from the Center, and along Hartford Avenue)

A reply is appreciated to selectmansoffice@oldlyme-ct.gov or  860 434 1605, ext. 210

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Old Lyme Residents Asked to Complete Recycling Survey to Help Determine Future Policy

recycle_logoThe Connecticut State Legislature recently approved increasing the State’s recycling goal from the current rate of 40 percent to 60 percent by the year 2024.  In response, the Town of Old Lyme is evaluating its recycling and trash services, and considering options to motivate residents to reduce trash through increased recycling.

The Town of Old Lyme has created a survey to gather information about your household trash and recycling habits. It will take less than five minutes to complete and will provide town officials with valuable information on which to base future policy.

Here is the link to survey:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1FzfaTeb4pQFUdMRkoaDvCwzjW0cDJ6kI5u_wSgju53M/formResponse

We urge all our readers, who are residents of Old Lyme, to complete it as soon as possible.

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New KI Tablets Available for Old Lyme Residents

potassium_iodidePotassium Iodide tablets (known as KI) with an expiration date of January 2020 are now available at the Old Lyme Town Hall for Old Lyme residents. KI is a form of iodine that protects the thyroid gland when there is a chance of exposure to a harmful amount of radioactive iodine.

Connecticut State Health department officials will direct the ingestion of KI if it is warranted.

Boxes containing 20 KI tablets, along with information sheets on the use of the tablets, are available in the Selectman’s Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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No Beer at the Beach: Police Take Notice

Over the past weekend June 7-8, Old Lyme Town Police issued four State of Connecticut infractions to minors for being in possession of alcohol.

In addition, 13 adults were issued Town of Old Lyme tickets for being in possession of alcoholic beverages on the beaches in Sound View.

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Old Lyme Trash/Recycling Schedules for Remainder of Week

Due to the Memorial Day holiday, trash and recycling pickup schedules in Old Lyme for the week commencing May 26 are as follows:

Trash pick-up moves up a day until Thursday and Friday, which remain on schedule.

Recycling pickup moves up a day until Friday, which remains on schedule.

All trash/recycling containers should be placed curbside by 6 a.m. on your scheduled day.

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Old Lyme Residents Vote on Town Budget Tonight

The Town of Old Lyme holds its Annual Budget Meeting tomorrow, Monday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School auditorium.  A vote will be taken on the town budget, which includes Old Lyme’s share of the Region 18 school’s budget, which was approved in a referendum in early May. Click to read the full agenda at this link.

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Old Lyme Town Hall Closed Today, But No Change to Trash, Recycling Schedules

The Old Lyme Town Hall and Transfer Station are both closed today, Good Friday, April 18.

The Transfer Station will be open on Saturday, April 19.

There is no change to the trash or recycling pick-up schedules on Friday, April 18.

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Old Lyme Historic District Commission Meets This Morning

Notice is hereby given that the Old Lyme Historic District Commission (HDC) will hold Public Hearings today, Monday, April 7, beginning at 9 a.m. in the second floor conference room at the Old Lyme Memorial Town Hall, 52 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT. The HDC will hear and act on the following Certificate of Appropriateness applications:

  • 75 Lyme Street, Awwa: fence
  • 26 Lyme Street, Pedersen: fence

The public is invited to attend and express its views.

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Raising the Flag in Old Lyme for ‘National Donate Life Month’

Donate life 2
Around a dozen people gathered outside Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall on Tuesday morning, April 1, to acknowledge and celebrate the start of ‘National Donate Life Month’ (NDLM), which was instituted by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003.  Celebrated in April each year, NDLM features an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.

Donate life 1

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder welcomed everyone and then led a moment of silence prior to the flag being raised.  Tom Kasprzak from East Lyme  (left in photo above), who is a Community Relations Specialist for CL&P, lost his daughter Mary (aged 15) nine years ago.  He and his wife, Joanne, donated Mary’s organs to other people, thus saving the lives of five people who received her organs.

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Lymes’ Senior Center Coordinator Stephanie Lyon (pictured left in photo above) noted her mother received a new heart five years ago.  The procedure changed her mother’s life and she now regularly swims for up to one and a half hours each day.

Donate life 3

The “Donate Life” flag will fly at the town hall throughout the month of April.  Kasprzak said, “By raising the flag we honor the thousands of donors who have saved the lives of countless others through their simple acts of kindness and compassion.”

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Cease and Desist Upheld Against ‘Chocolate Shell’

After the hours of testimony in two Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals meetings and an Old Lyme Zoning Commission meeting, it took less than 30 minutes for the members of the ZBA to determine that there has been a change of use at The Chocolate Shell and to uphold Zoning Enforcement Officer Ann Brown’s Cease and Desist order on the café being operated in the store by owner Barbara Crowley.

Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Judith McQuade stressed that members must simply answer the question, “Has the use changed?  That’s what we want to know.”

Karen Coniff responded, “I do think there has been a use change.  I appreciate what she [Crowley] is doing there.  I just don’t think it’s the same use.”

Noting that although the café is, “a really nice thing for the town,” Kip Kotzan said, “I can’t say I really like it, so I’m going to pass on it [enforcing the regulations.]  He cited the re-doing of the space, the change of hours, the introduction of wi-fi and the extension of the fence as indicators of a change of use at the store.

Mary Stone similarly stressed that the board should confine their decision to “a very narrow area,” and then also expressed the view, “There has definitely been an expansion of use.”

McQuade said it was important to distinguish between an ‘expansion’ of use and a ‘change’ of use, as the former might be permissible.

Commenting, “It was a whole different proposition,” after the café opened, Arthur E. Sibley noted, “It wasn’t there before,” adding, “The decision was made in this town to preserve Lyme Street as much as they possibly could … I don’t think there’s any doubt this is a change of use … this operation is not really compliant and I don’t think we should allow it.”

Kotzan summed up that the café is “pretty clearly a change of use,” but stressed again that the board was, “not making a judgement that it was a bad thing.”  He suggested that if the process were followed, a permit application for the café might be approved by the Zoning Commission in due course.

When McQuade called the vote after a motion by Sibley was made to uphold the Cease and Desist, the vote was unanimous.

 

 

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Old Lyme ZBA to Make ‘Chocolate Shell’ Decision Tonight

The appeal by Chocolate Shell owner Barbara Crowley against the Cease and Desist order on her business serving coffee is the only item on the agenda in an Open Voting Session at tonight’s Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) Special Meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Room of the Town Hall.

The members of the ZBA will vote at the end of the Open Voting Session thus determining the future of the Cafe in the The Chocolate Shell.

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Special Town Meeting in Old Lyme Tonight

A Special Town Meeting was held in Old Lyme this evening to consider the following agenda items:

  • To rescind the existing Chapter 187 of the Old Lyme code Design and Construction Standards adopted on 11/15/02 and to adopt new Design and Construction Standards for Public Improvements as recommended by the Board of Selectmen and the Planning Commission and to adopt pursuant there to an amended Chapter 144 of the Old Lyme Code Construction and Acceptance of Roads.  Copies are available in the Old Lyme Town Clerk’s office for inspection.
  • To authorize the expenditure of an amount not to exceed $148,500 for Phase I of the Rte. 156 Bike Path/Sound View Improvement Project, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen. A Connecticut Department of Transportation grant will cover a portion of this expenditure.
  • To authorize the expenditure of the sum of $13,000 for a kiosk at the Town Parking Lot in Sound View, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen.
  • To authorize the appropriation of an amount not to exceed $478,000 for the Hains Park Boathouse renovation and expansion project, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, which project will be funded by a STEAP (Small Towns Economic Assistance Program) grant in said amount.
  • To hear an updated presentation by the Board of Selectmen and the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority on the Wastewater Management Study.
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Restaurant or Not? ‘Chocolate Shell’ Decision Deferred to Tuesday

The Chocolate Shell owner, Barbara Crowley, sits with her back to the audience at the table (left) in the town hall's packed meeting room Tuesday evening during the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

The Chocolate Shell owner, Barbara Crowley, sits with her back to the audience at the table (left) in the town hall’s packed meeting room Tuesday evening during the Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

After three and a half hours of conflicting testimony and with two more items on the agenda still to discuss, the clock in Old Lyme’s Memorial Town Hall already stood at close to 11 p.m. Monday night.  The Old Lyme Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) was supposed to have a Open Voting Session following all three agenda items, but having spent so long on the first agenda item, they took the decision to defer their voting session to next Tuesday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m.

The agenda item that had consumed so much time, was the appeal by Barbara Crowley, owner of The Chocolate Shell on Lyme Street, against the Cease and Desist Order on her café.  Two lawyers battled verbally at the ZBA’s table, one  representing Crowley and the second hired by Ann Brown, the Old Lyme Zoning Enforcement Officer (ZEO).  A third lawyer entered the fray during public comment on behalf of the neighbors of The Chocolate Shell.

The legal arguments revolved over the minutiae of whether Crowley, as a result of installing a coffee machine, adding pastries, quiches and some other edible items to her product line and extending her morning opening hours, was operating a full-service restaurant, a take-out restaurant — or any restaurant at all.

Her attorney, Michael Cronin of Old Saybrook, after detailing the specifics of the property, including its “very small” size at 424 square feet and its long history, then quizzed Crowley on various aspects of her business.  He finally announced, “Looking at all the facts, this is not a restaurant.”

Cronin also remarked on two other businesses on Lyme Street that are selling coffee (the Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe and Nightingale’s Acoustic Café), which in his words, “Go merrily on their way,” and have not faced zoning challenges.  He commented, “I don’t know why they are allowed and we are not,” adding, “We feel we may be the victim of some selective ordinance.”

Brown quickly countered that “The uses of all these buildings is (sic) different” and therefore the approvals are different.

Brown’s attorney, Eric Knapp, submitted, “This isn’t about intensity of use, but change of use … The reason we are here is that there were substantive changes of use.”  Brown clarified, “Heating, serving and preparing coffee” represents a change of use, confirming, “I do think it’s a take-out restaurant.”

Knapp added, “She [Crowley] is altering the underlying concept of the store,” at which point board member Arthur E. Sibley declared to ripples of laughter, “You’re not making any sense to me at all.”

Sibley pressed the point, asking, “What is the definition of a restaurant?” inquiring further, “Is the definition that this place is a restaurant?”

Knapp replied firmly, “There has been a change — she [The Chocolate Shell] was not a restaurant, but now she is.”

Subsequent exchanges explored whether the issue was the difference between hot and cold drinks to which Brown responded crisply, “It’s the preparation of the drinks that’s the problem.”

The legal sparring continued with Crowley at one point saying she had been told by Brown that if she (Crowley) could prove coffee had been served at any time previously in the store, then no zoning action would be required.  Crowley duly found a resident, Alison Mitchell, who “assured” Crowley that “coffee was available” many years previously when the shop was the Griswold Grocery Store.  Attorney Knapp submitted, however, that the use would be considered ‘abandoned’ in legal terms, “… if the use was discontinued without the intention to continue it.”

Finally ZBA Chairman Judith McQuade moved the proceedings forward by asking ZBA Secretary Mary Stone to summarize the approximately 30 pages of letters from the public regarding the matter.  Stone mentioned that one was “concerned about the tranquility of the neighborhood,” while another talked of the challenges facing a small business.  Stone concluded there were eight letters in support of the appeal against the Cease and Desist order and five against.

McQuade then opened Public Comment reminding speakers that the issue is not about, “Whether we like this facility [The Chocolate Shell]” and requesting speakers to, “Keep to the business of zoning,” or face the possibility, ‘We could be here all night.”

The first speaker was Charlotte Scott of Ferry Rd., who noted her ancestors had lived in Old Lyme since the 1700s.  She then stated, “This is one of the most embarrassing scenes I’ve ever witnessed.  We need new zoning laws.  There doesn’t seem to be a meeting of the minds — even on the committee.”  She added, “It’s absolutely outrageous to be spending this much time on such a petty issue.”

Craig Silver of Lyme St. spoke next, saying, “If it was anything that took away from Lyme Street, I’d complain.  My whole house overlooks it.  I’ve got a very big investment in Lyme Street.  I just can’t believe this is going on.”

Observing, “If people are concerned about tranquility,” Penny Oakley, also of Lyme Street, said they should consider,  “The traffic from the Congregational Church, the traffic from the Cooley Gallery.”  She said, “I don’t complain … there are a lot of bigger issues in Old Lyme that need dealing with,” citing drugs at the high school as being far more worrisome.

Another resident urged the ZBA to remember, “We’re not talking about the golden arches (a reference to McDonald’s) — we’re all confused.”  He noted, “The traffic from the church is horrendous …” and then added to much laughter, “… and I bet they serve coffee too!”

Stanford Brainerd of Lyme Street was the first to speak in support of the Cease and Desist.  He remarked that “the community operates under the rule of law,” and further noted that the law can often be inconvenient in ways such as the speed limit on Lyme Street.  Noting, “We are fortunate to have a professional Zoning Enforcement Officer in Old Lyme,” he added firmly, “This is not a popularity contest.  Obey the law.  Uphold the Cease and Desist.”

Stating first that he was an attorney representing the Schellens and Mallory households, Campbell Hudson then addressed the audience.  His lengthy argument rested on the definition of a full-service restaurant, which he said had been “inadequately discussed,” and moreover is “not a permitted use in a residential zone.”  Hudson listed numerous ways in which he felt the café was meeting the criterion and challenged Crowley’s estimate that only one percent of her customers sat at the store’s tables.  He argued there is, “Significant, long-term, regular use of tables.”

He cited other factors including, “consumption on the premises … 14 tables inside and out … a new entrance … a significant increase in parking … wi-fi connections,” to support his argument.  Contending, “There is an intention to make the place like a Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts,” he stated, “Once something is permitted for one person, you’re powerless to stop it for anyone else,” asking the board to consider what the situation would be, “If she sells to someone else.”

Hudson also challenged Crowley’s contention that she only uses paper cups and plates, stating, “Ceramics have been used.”  To emphasize his point regarding the possible sale of the store, he later submitted to the board a Memorandum of Law accompanied by a series of photos, which included one ‘Photoshopped’ to show The Chocolate Shell replaced by a Dunkin Donuts.

Concluding, “Even if this were a permitted restaurant,” Hudson maintained a change of use has still occurred [requiring a permit] due to the extent to which the current use is different from the previous one and also the substantial changes in the nature and character of use of the facility.

Listing at least eight ways in which she believes The Chocolate Shell has changed its use, Jane Schellens of Academy Lane included the store’s expanded hours, people eating outside, two wi-fi connections, and a new entrance on Lyme Street, concluding, “This is about the law, the property and a significant change of use.”

Schellens’s husband, Tom, spoke briefly suggesting The Chocolate Shell should stay “where it is” and “the new entity [the cafe] move to a new location.”

Diane Mallory of Lyme Street also submitted there had been “a significant change of use” and “an intensification of business” at The Chocolate Shell, which she described as , “a charming and much-loved business.”  But she stressed, “It has changed its business,” adding, “If it hadn’t changed, we wouldn’t be here.”

Nancy Hutchinson of Squire Ave. in Old Lyme said, “Zoning and Zoning Enforcement are most important to maintain a town.”  She noted, “Old Lyme has a strategic Zoning Plan,” and “You shouldn’t just slip by that … because of popularity.”

Finally a resident pointed out there could be other reasons apart from The Chocolate Shell café that have caused the increase in traffic, such as the neighboring spa business.  She stated emphatically that this Zoning matter was “ill-focused and misdirected.”

Cronin quickly reviewed Hudson’s Memorandum of Law and associated photos, and briefly challenged much of the photographic evidence, concluding, “We strongly disagree with the facts as presented in the Memorandum.”  Crowley also refuted many of the points made previously including, “The fence was there when I bought the property … the door was installed for fire safety.”

A show of hands in support of the appeal had been sought earlier in the meeting by the ZBA Chairman and discussion took place on whether a number should be recorded in the Minutes.  It was finally concluded that the secretary would enter a count of approximately 40.

After individual board member’s declarations of their association with The Chocolate Shell, the board determined they would postpone voting on the matter due to the late hour.

 

 

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Old Lyme ZBA Takes on Two Controversial Issues Tonight

The agenda for this evening’s Old Lyme’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) includes two controversial issues, which are likely to draw substantial numbers to the town hall’s auditorium for the 7:30 p.m. meeting.

'The Chocolate Shell' on Lyme Street.

‘The Chocolate Shell’ on Lyme Street.

The first item relates to the Cease and Desist order placed by Zoning Enforcement Officer Ann Brown on The Chocolate Shell’s café and sign.  Brown charged that, through the installation of its coffee machine and expanded range of pastries, the store has established, “a take-out restaurant and restaurant without permits,” and also installed, “a sign without permits.”    Store owner Barbara Crowley plans to present her argument to the ZBA board that Brown’s actions are unjustified.

The second matter involves the maintenance of, “… a junkyard and storing rubbish, machinery, trash, refuse, debris and/or junk motor vehicles,” at 2 Moss Point Trail by former ZBA member Patrick Looney and his wife, Diane.

The ZBA will make decisions on both matters in an Open Voting Session during the meeting.

Click here to view the agenda for the meeting.

Editor’s Note: See related articles The Chocolate Shell Café Re-opens published Feb. 23 on LymeLine.com and Coffee and chocolate spur debate on future of Lyme Street in Old Lyme by Kimberly Drelich and published March 10 in The Day.

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Open Letter from Old Lyme First Selectwoman About Wastewater Management

An Open Letter to Old Lyme Residents:

Over the past several years, there has been a lot of talk about wastewater management for the shoreline area of Old Lyme due to the high density of homes with small lot sizes and onsite septic systems.  The purpose of this letter is to inform you about the studies that have been conducted in an effort to determine the best wastewater treatment solution for our shoreline.

Point o’ Woods (POW) installed sewers approximately 6 years ago, connecting them to the regional New London Wastewater Treatment Facility (NLWTF).  Their waste is conveyed, by agreement, through the communities of East Lyme, Waterford and into New London.  The POW sewers were installed after completing a study partially paid for by the Clean Water Fund (CWF) through the CT DEEP.

Both Old Lyme Shores and Old Colony Beach formed WPCAs and utilized CWF to begin their own studies on wastewater and pollution.  Their studies recommended connecting to the NLWTF via the existing pipe.  Conveyance Agreements will be needed with neighboring communities in order for connections to be made.

In 2012, Lombardo Associates, Inc. (LAI) completed a preliminary study focusing on alternatives for wastewater management, concluding that there could be a viable, cost effective, community solution for the Old Lyme shoreline.  In response, the Board of Selectmen established a Wastewater Management Task Force (WMTF), which selected Woodard & Curran (W&C) to evaluate wastewater treatment options for the shoreline.  In April 2013, Old Lyme residents approved the funds for a feasibility study to determine regional and community wastewater treatment options.

Utilizing CWF, W&C evaluated both the regional option of conveyance to the NLWTF, and community wastewater treatment options.  The WMTF also wanted to consider local dispersal and/or reuse of treated wastewater.  The sites examined for this purpose included the driving range behind the old Cherrystones Restaurant (for dispersal), and a local property (for reuse).  The W&C study included preliminary discussions with owners of the sites, and these discussions will continue.

While the LAI report indicated that a STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pump) or STEG (Septic Tank Effluent Gravity) system was the most viable and least expensive option for conveyance of wastewater, primarily because existing septic tanks could be used to contain the solids and only the effluent (liquid) would be piped away and treated in a community system, W & C rejected it for several reasons, including costs not considered by LAI and sustainability concerns.

Where are we now?  W&C has submitted their draft study to the CT DEEP and feedback is   expected soon.  The study recommended proceeding with a local solution — the least costly option.  It includes the conveyance of both solids and effluent from the shoreline to a treatment facility (location to be determined) that will resemble a large shed or small home.

Following treatment, the clean, odorless effluent will be dispersed in a sub-surface disposal site, with the possibility of some of the treated effluent being reused by sub-surface injection at a local site.  The waste will be treated to a high quality standard (nearly potable) before reuse.  Both dispersal and reuse keep water in town to recharge our aquifers.  And, a local wastewater treatment center may provide us with one cohesive entity that oversees our community’s wastewater and water conservation needs.

As we know, Old Lyme Shores and Old Colony Beach have consent orders from the CT DEEP to remediate pollution by installing sewers by June of 2016.  Clean water, a healthy environment, and doing what is in the best interest for all the people of Old Lyme will continue to be a priority of our Town Government.

If you want more information on this important issue, you have many options:

  • A link to the wastewater project plan submitted to the CT DEEP by W&C can be found on the Town website www.oldlyme-ct.gov, under Current Projects.  
  • You can contact any member of the WPCA (Donna Bednar, Frank Chan, Ernest Lorda, Andrea Lombard, Robert McCarthy, Richard Prendergast, Tom Risom, Dimitri Tolchinksi, Doug Wilkinson, Kurt Zemba) with questions.
  • Finally, there will be a Public Information session at the Special Town Meeting on March 24, at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Hall.

The Town’s Wastewater Management Project is the direct result of our Town’s efforts to work together to make decisions that keep our shoreline healthy and viable for future generations. We will continue to update our residents as this project moves forward.

Sincerely,
Bonnie A. Reemsnyder
First Selectwoman, Old Lyme.

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Old Lyme Police Host Fun Evening with a Purpose for Youth Advisory Council Members

LYSB Youth Advisory Council members enjoy a night a bowling with Old Lyme Police.

LYSB Youth Advisory Council members enjoy a night a bowling with Old Lyme Police.

Yesterday evening, March 12, the Old Lyme Police Union hosted the Lyme’s Youth Service Bureau  - Youth Advisory Council to an evening of bowling at Saybrook Lanes.  The Old Lyme Police Union had applied for and received a Mini-Grant from the Community Action For Substance Free Youth, which enabled the youth group and police officers to enjoy a fun, substance-free activity.  

Several Old Lyme police officers have received specialized training in how to effectively interact with youth.  These police officers continue to promote positive relationships with students at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.  

The Old Lyme Police Union recognizes the importance of positive interaction with youth and looks to continue building these relationships through fun, safe, activities where police officers and youth can interact.

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Sunshine News: Old Lyme Invited to Join CT Solar Challenge, Install Panels at Reduced Cost

A number of towns in Connecticut have recently adopted a new plan to expand the use of solar panels by homeowners. The new plan calls for neighboring towns to form a large group of citizens, who wish to install solar panels on their properties at a group rate. The program is called CT Solar Challenge.

Substantial savings are derived by eliminating the normal marketing and advertising costs and by installing up to 50 systems in the same geographic area by the same vendor.  The incentive for Old Lyme to participate comes in the form of a free solar installation on a town building.  The savings have convinced those who previously thought that solar panel installation was beyond their means to go ahead and install a system, and as more and more families participate the costs continue to reduce.

Old Lyme has been invited to participate in this highly successful model.  The CT Solar Challenge is a complete program that requires nothing from the town, except a commitment to promote the program, the use of town meeting spaces and existing communication channels, and a team of willing volunteers to explain the program.  Their website is www.CTSolarChallenge.com.  Volunteers and those who wish to go solar should contact the Old Lyme First Selectwoman’s office

The State of Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority also has a leasing program for solar panels in conjunction with their solar rebate program.  Details can be found at ctsolarlease.com.  Leasing usually has the advantage of a single monthly payment as well as installation, maintenance and repair by the leasing company.

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Parking Ban for Lyme St., Ferry Rd. Continues Through 9am Friday

With a slow-moving winter storm currently tracking through the region, the Town of Old Lyme has announced a Parking Ban to be in effect on Lyme Street and Ferry Road from 3 p.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday.

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Old Lyme Zoning Denies Bestway Beer Sales Application

Asif Choudry addresses the Old Lyme Zoning Commission at Monday night's meeting.

Asif Choudhry addresses the Old Lyme Zoning Commission at Monday night’s meeting.

The Old Lyme Town Hall Meeting Room was packed Monday evening for the monthly Zoning Commission meeting.

Asif Choudhry, owner of the Bestway gas station at the corner of Hartford Ave. and Shore Rd. (Rte. 156), had applied for a permit to sell beer at the convenience store located inside the gas station.  The permit was necessary because Old Lyme bans the sale of all alcohol within 200 ft. of a place of worship and the Shoreline Church is located a few doors down from the gas station.

Numerous members of the public had spoken against Choudhry’s application at the first hearing a month previously primarily due to concerns related to making alcohol more available in general — and specifically to youth — and also on the grounds of the Zoning Commission’s own charge to retain the rural nature of the town.  A handful more residents spoke Monday citing similar concerns.

Choudhry offered a spirited defense of his application, noting he had lived in Old Lyme 14 years and, “… done everything possible to sustain this business.”  He submitted, “Everybody drinks beer.  Kids find beer in their parent’s garage.  I cannot sell beer [to] underage [kids.]  If kids are going to buy beer, they’re going to buy beer.”

Choudhry also pointed out that no one from the church had come to oppose his application and suggested there was wide support from the Sound View business community for his application, saying, “I basically speak up for all the businesses in Sound View.”

There was, however, little sympathy on the commission for Choudhry’s position and the members proceeded to deny the application unanimously.  After commenting he was “delighted to see so many people show up,” Ted Kiritsis noted, “If we abide by the [commission's] preamble, it’s clear what to do.”

John Johnson said he believed it was clear by virtue of the “large numbers” of the public present at both meetings, “There is definite feeling of the town [to deny the application.]”

Jane Marsh added, “I don’t think there’s any compelling need to change the regulations,” and Johnson chimed in that he was also opposed because of, “… kids and the drinking problem,” saying firmly, “I’m not prepared to make it [alcohol] any more available.”

Chairman Jane Cable summarized the board sentiment saying she would also vote against the application, noting simply that, in her opinion, “The reasons for denying it outweigh the reasons for approving it.”

After the meeting, a delighted Mary Seidner, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau Executive Director, told LymeLine, “I am pleased that the comments and concerns of the citizens of Old Lyme were heeded by the commission.”

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Chocolate Shell’s Café on Old Lyme Zoning Commission’s Agenda Tonight

The Old Lyme Zoning Commission tonight has included an agenda item to consider an “E-mail dated February 7, 2014 from Barbara Crowley of the Chocolate Shell, 18 Lyme Street to discuss certain items concerning Lyme Street business.”

Crowley, the owner of the Chocolate Shell, was served with a Cease and Desist order on the café section of her business because, in an e-mail sent to her customers Jan. 28, she explains, “Ann Brown, Old Lyme’s zoning enforcer has decided that I am in violation of zoning regulations by operating both a “take out restaurant” AND a “full service restaurant”, mainly due to a coffee maker and the chairs and tables that were outside for your enjoyment.”

Crowley adds, “As of today I must stop selling coffee and I must remove all chairs and tables, oh… and my “CAFE” flag (which is considered a “permanent sign”).”

Crowley, who notes her in her e-mail that she has both “a very angry and sad heart,” is expected to challenge the Cease and Desist order this evening.  She also stresses that The Chocolate Shell continues to remain open for its normal business of selling fine chocolates and candies from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

The Zoning Commission meets at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the auditorium of the Old Lyme Town Hall.

 Click here to view the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

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