Norwich - The proposed $33.4 million new downtown police station meets city zoning regulations and is in compliance with the city Plan of Conservation and Development, the Planning Commission decided Wednesday.
The city charter requires that the City Council refer bonding issues to the Commission on the City Plan prior to voting on the issues. A negative recommendation would have required a two-thirds majority vote by the City Council before the proposed police station could be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The proposed project would occupy the Sears building - after a complete renovation - at 2-6 Cliff St. and several surrounding parking lots. The 60,000-square-foot facility would include a three-story parking garage with 75 public spaces at the current city-owned Cliff Street public parking lot.
Director of Planning and Development Peter Davis told the commission that it had to review the proposed police station on three fronts - a new location for a city government building, compliance with zoning regulations and the plan of development as well as with the five-year capital plan.
Davis presented a map outlining the downtown location. The Plan of Conservation and Development, Davis said, specifically addressed the lack of space in the current police station at 70 W. Thames St. and the lack of parking. Davis said the new proposal is not in conflict with the plan.
The five-year capital plan, approved by the Commission on the City Plan, addressed lack of revenue to fund capital projects. However, the capital plans over the past several years recommended relocating the police station as a priority. Only the 2010 plan did not specifically mention the station relocation.
"This has been on the radar of a number of capital plans (in recent years)," Davis said.
Planning commission member P. Michael Lahan said the commission is not endorsing the project as a whole but said it meets the limited criteria of the commission's review. The three commission members present voted unanimously to send a favorable recommendation to the council.
City and police officials are holding several public information meetings to discuss the proposed project. The City Council will hold a public hearing Aug. 6 before voting on whether to place the issue on the November ballot for referendum.
UBox:FUTURE PUBLIC MEETINGS ON PROPOSED POLICE STATION
• Saturday at 10 a.m. at the American Legion on Laurel Hill Avenue
• July 28 at 10 a.m. at Otis Library
• Aug. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Kelly Middle School
• Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. at the Knights of Columbus on South Second Avenue in Taftville
• City Council public hearing Aug. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall; possibly place $33.4 million bond proposal for the station on the Nov. 6 ballot for referendum