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Norwich plan puts development where infrastructure is

By Claire Bessette

Publication: The Day

Published February 22. 2013 4:00AM
Rural areas would remain protected

Norwich - The proposed new plan of conservation and development calls for directing new development to areas already served with city utilities, public transportation, sidewalks and other amenities while preserving rural and environmentally sensitive areas.

The plan also recommends adding two small business park development zones in the Otrobando Avenue area.

About 30 business leaders heard a presentation Thursday on the proposed plan. Glenn Chalder, president of the consulting firm Planimetrics, told the Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce that unlike past city plans, the new document has an implementation element that can be adjusted quickly for new issues and needs.

The plan is posted on the city website, at www.norwichct.org, and a public hearing is planned for June 18 prior to adoption by the Commission on the City Plan.

While the plan of conservation and development is "an advisory" document, Chalder said it should be used as a guide for all city and regional agencies for Norwich development and grant applications.

Answering questions from the audience, planners addressed the possible expansion of the Stanley Israelite Norwich Business Park. In 2003, when Norwich last updated the plan, a controversial plan to expand the business park through rezoning was shot down by the City Council.

Jason Vincent, a former planner with Planimetrics but currently an economic development associate with the Norwich Community Development Corp., said a different business park expansion is included in the plan.

When marketing the business park to potential new firms, city officials would include a much wider area that already contains some of the city's largest taxpayers, the Freeport McMoRan copper manufacturing plant on Wawecus Street and U.S. Foodservices and Comfort Suites hotel on Otrobando Avenue.

The plan calls for rezoning a section of Clinton Avenue near the city Public Works headquarters and a second area of Otrobando Avenue that encompasses the Norwich Little League field as business park land.

Attorney Theodore Phillips asked how the plan would address the mostly vacant east entrance to downtown on Main Street, now dominated by vacant buildings including the former YMCA, a former floor-covering store that moved and the former Elks Club building that recently housed a restaurant.

Chalder said the plan does not make recommendations for specific properties but is meant as an overall guide. Vincent added that a recent downtown plan recommended concentrating redevelopment on the central downtown core of Main and Franklin streets and then "working out to the peripheries."

c.bessette@theday.com

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