EAST HAMPTON — The Town Council will be looking at improved safety and traffic flow along the Route 66 corrider, after being presented with a series of recommendations from the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Government.
The proposals are included in a draft document presented by the regional planning agency for 17 towns including East Hampton.
The COG draft report also includes proposals for improving pedestrian and vehicular traffic flow on Route 66 in Portland.The long range study, if approved, would enable the COG to move ahead to seek grants and other funding sources to help improve traffic flow along the corridor, said Portland Economic Development Coordinator Mary D. Dickerson. COG Executive Director Samuel Gold was joined by Christopher Granatini, vice president of engineering firm Tighe & Bond, which conducted the corridor study.
Granatini said the study is intended to “look out to 2040,” and will “really focus on safety improvements in the corridor without making wholesale infrastructure changes.”
In his presentation to the council during its most recent meeting, Granatini outlined mostly minor adjustments.One was redesigning the intersection at Lake Drive and East High Street where the new Dollar General store is located.
A more major proposal was for realigning Old Marlborough Road where it intersects with East High Street and construction of a roundabout, or traffic circle.
Installing the roundabout would “reduce vehicle traffic speeds,” Granatini said.
The proposal also would involve heavily striping pedestrian crossings and extending sidewalks along East High Street to Paul and Sandy’s Too, Granatini said.
The area in front of the popular garden center and hardware store would see changes including installation of a median divider and construction of a left-turn lane for eastbound traffic turning into the center.
Granatini said engineers who developed the concept propose having a designated entrance and exit as well as creating a pedestrian crossing and reducing the speed limit from the present 45 mph to 30.A proposed change for the intersection of East High and West Point Road calls for creating a sidewalk on the north side of Route 66 including an ADA-compliant sidewalk where West Point Road enters Route 66.
Coming up the hill past the former town hall, the Tighe & Bond proposal calls for extending the left-turn lane into McDonald’s and installing push-buttons to control traffic signals at the entrance and exit of Stop & Shop.
At the entrance to the middle school, Route 66 would be widened and a left-turn lane created for westbound traffic entering Childs Road.
Tighe & Bond produced a drawing for a traffic circle at the intersection of routes 66 and 151, but Granatini said that idea was abandoned because it would create “too significant an impact.”
The COG proposals also include eliminating driveways at Burt Realty and the Middletown Glass building.
Gold said COG hopes to have the proposal completed by June, when it will be submitted to the state Department of Transportation for review and comment.
New London council approves $48 million portion of high school project
New London — The $108 million New London High School reconstruction project reached another milestone on Monday.
The City Council authorized construction manager Newfield + Downes to award eight trade contracts worth $48.2 million to allow preliminary site work to start later this month. The council additionally authorized spending $4.3 million for abatement and demolition work.
Work is expected to start later this year on an addition at the high school, the first stage in a multiyear construction project that will take place while students are attending school.
Both the high school and Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School are being updated as part of the $165 million project approved by voters in 2014.
East Lyme Inland Wetland Agency turns down 108-unit housing development
East Lyme — The Inland Wetland Agency unanimously voted to deny without prejudice an application proposing to construct a 108-unit housing development on the western side of town, blocking it from moving forward until concerns about stormwater runoff are corrected and submitted in a new application to the agency.
Developer Jason Pazzaglia, owner of the custom homebuilding company Pazz & Construction LLC of East Lyme, submitted an application to the town’s Land Use Department late last year, proposing to build 108 multifamily units on about 12 of the 20 acres he owns at 90 North Bride Brook Road.
The forested and undeveloped property abuts the southern side of Interstate 95, is located about a mile away from the eastern side of the Rocky Neck Connector and sits about 500 feet west of Bride Lake, according to town Wetland Enforcement Officer and Director of Planning Gary Goeschel.
Pazzaglia presented his plans with his attorney Harry Heller of Montville in January, and again in February, before the Inland Wetland Agency when a public hearing also was held on the project.
Pazzaglia was required to go before the agency because three of the 13 proposed buildings extend into what’s known as the upland review area, or the 100-foot area surrounding a watercourse — in this case Bride Brook.
Pazzaglia had told The Day earlier this year he had hoped to begin constructing the development as soon as this spring. He purchased the property from its estate owner Edward H. Dzwilewski for $450,000 in 2017, and the Water and Sewer Commission last September granted him 35,400 gallons of daily sewage capacity for the project.
Though Pazzaglia did not officially file his application with the Inland Wetland Agency under the state’s affordable housing statutes, in January he told The Day he planned to submit the application to the town’s Zoning Commission under those statutes after receiving permission from the wetlands agency to move forward.
The Inland Wetland Agency met for the first time since February via a virtual meeting Monday night to make a decision on the application, as well as address other, separate applications.
Goeschel advised the agency that Pazzaglia's application was complete — including a report by soil scientist James Sipperly and a review by town municipal engineer Bill Scheer — and showed “nothing that would suggest there is an adverse impact to the wetlands.” However, agency members unanimously denied the application due to remaining concerns about stormwater runoff and how it may impact Bride Brook, Bride Lake and one of the town’s nearby drinking-water aquifers. Agency member Rosemary Ostfeld has said a small portion of the building site sits within an aquifer protection area.
Chief among the agency's concerns Monday were plans to divert stormwater runoff from the roofs of three of the site's 13 buildings into Bride Brook. The three buildings were proposed close to the brook, within the agency's upland review area.
Agency Vice Chairwoman Kristen Chantrell worried that potential pollutants and warmed rainwater could be carried into the brook after hitting the roofs. Combined, she argued, the warmed stormwater and pollutants could adversely impact the brook, which she said is an already impaired watercourse and therefore should be further protected.
“I think there are other alternatives instead of putting those buildings that close (to the brook) and having the purpose of those rooftops recharging the watercourse,” she said. "The rooftops will impact the watercourse and wetlands in a negative way and those buildings need to go."
Chairman Gary Upton also raised concerns about a stormwater detention basin proposed to be built at the southeastern end of the site, where the rest of of the site's stormwater runoff will filter into.
Attorney Heller outlined to the agency during public hearings in January and February that the basin could accommodate enough water for a “100-year storm,” accounts for overflow with a swale, or marshy depression, and follows design guidelines from the state’s 2004 stormwater quality manual. However, Upton worried pollutants coming from the proposed development and filtering through the basin still could impact the nearby Bride Lake and, eventually, the town's drinking-water aquifer.
“My concern is that we have a detention pond that is receiving who knows what from driveways, anti-freeze from cars, who knows what pollutants from Roundups and all those different things,” Upton said. “It’s irrefutable that if a pollutant got into that detention basin, that it has the potential ... to cause pollution of a wetland or a watercourse.”
The agency requested that a hydrology report be submitted with a new application.
Pazzaglia and Heller were present at Monday’s meeting but did not speak while the agency deliberated.
Goeschel told the agency Monday he expects Heller and Pazzaglia will appeal the decision in New London Superior Court and simultaneously would submit a new application addressing the agency's concerns.
With CT’s trash future in flux, food-waste recycler hopes for bigger role
rocessing facilities that convert food and other organic waste into energy and compost are a key piece of Connecticut’s strategy to reduce the amount of garbage it burns, but investment in those plants has fallen well short of what is needed to meet the state’s goals.
Connecticut’s only anaerobic digester, run by Quantum Biopower, opened four years ago in Southington, but not much has happened since.
Several other proposed digester projects have stalled out due to financial troubles or other challenges, and state incentives have thus far failed to attract investment in more plants.
Quantum can process about 40,000 tons a year, which is well short of the 300,000 tons of annual digester capacity state environmental officials say is needed to divert a meaningful volume of organics from the broader waste stream by 2024.
For example, Maryland-based Bioenergy DevCo is using a $106-million investment from Newlight Partners to build a 100,000-ton capacity anaerobic digester in its home state, while also proposing facilities in New York, New Jersey and Washington.
Investment in such plants is spurred by various regulatory and market dynamics, including California’s financial incentives for biomethane — also known as renewable natural gas — which can be produced by in- and out-of-state anaerobic digesters. There’s also growing demand from private companies like UPS that want the fuel for their natural gas-powered vehicle fleets. And states like Connecticut have mandates that require large food-waste producers, such as grocery stores and manufacturers, to separate their organics and ship them to composters or anaerobic digesters.“Anaerobic digestion has a bright future, but it’s more a question of timing,” said Brian Paganini, Quantum’s vice president and managing director.