Norwich vote could help city land funds to relocate flood-prone business

Norwich - The city has become the first municipality in southeastern Connecticut to approve the new region's hazardous mitigation plan that could help the city obtain Federal Emergency Management Agency money to relocate the flood-prone Nutmeg Cos.

The City Council voted Monday to approve the plan written by consultants Milone & MacBroom, Inc. of Cheshire for the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments.

The five-year plan becomes active now that the first municipality has approved it, SCCOG Executive Director James Butler said.

Two years ago, the city applied for $570,075 in FEMA funds, with a required 25 percent local match to purchase Nutmeg Cos. and relocate the company from its low-lying 31 New London Turnpike location on the banks of the Yantic River. Nutmeg suffered $2 million in flood damage in the March 2010 flood, when the company was inundated with 4 feet of water.

But FEMA could not process the city's grant application, because the region did not have an approved hazardous mitigation plan. City Manager Alan Bergren said the plan had to be approved by Thursday or the city would have to wait until the next fiscal year to apply for the funds.

The plan recommends the region "pursue grant funding" to acquire the Nutmeg property and convert it into open space.

The grant would cover only the property purchase. The cost to relocate Nutmeg, and a possible new location are not yet known. The council did not discuss Nutmeg's situation directly Monday.

The plan has other recommendations to mitigate Norwich's persistent flooding, including acquiring residential properties that routinely suffer flood damage, flood-proofing the Yantic Fire Engine Company No. 1, and removing silt buildup in the Yantic near the Sherman Street bridge.

The plan also recommends removal of the historic Upper Falls Dam on the Yantic River to eliminate backwater above the dam in the Sherman Street bridge area.

c.bessette@theday.com

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