Stonington voters approve harbor plan changes, five other initiatives

Stonington — Voters at Tuesday night's town meeting agreed to adopt changes to the Stonington Harbor Management Plan that are expected to increase the number of moorings and relieve overcrowding in the harbor.

The new plan, which the Stonington Harbor Management Commission spent nearly two years crafting, also keeps the cost of private mooring fees at $20 a year. Special purpose moorings and commercial moorings will now be $100.

Harbormaster Eric Donch said the new GPS-based grid plan that will be used to map out moorings will create between 50 and 100 new moorings. It was determined by the commission that the old mapping system was inefficient. The harbor management plan was last updated in 2000.

Pawcatuck resident Gail Shea continued to voice concerns that people did not have enough time to review the new harbor management plan. She argued the issue should be taken to referendum for voters to decide.

Town Attorney Thomas Londregan said it would be up to either the Board of Selectmen or a town-wide petition to force a referendum. Without action from either, he said it was the town meeting's place to vote on the plan Tuesday.

Others argued that new plan was unfair because the commercial mooring fees were increased while the cost for private users remained the same.

Voters also voted in favor of five other resolutions:

■ To rescind a provision that calls for the Indian and Colonial Research Center property in Old Mystic to revert to the town if it is no longer used for a research center and museum open to the public.

■ To use $89,807 from the town's fund balance to pay for emergency repairs to the West Broad Street sprinkler system, which had to be made before the school there could reopen last month.

■ To approve a $15,939 tax reimbursement to New England Science & Sailing. The reimbursement covered the amount of taxes the group paid in the nine months before it became a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization.

■ To adopt an ordinance that will place restrictions and requirements on peddlers and solicitors in town.

■ To approve a revision to an existing ordinance that will allow First Selectman Ed Habarek to approve the purchases of goods and services up to $10,000 without competitive bidding. The limit was previously $5,000.

The town meeting tabled a resolution that would revise the restaurant licensing ordinance to increase annual permit fees and set fees based on classes of the restaurants.

The first 45 minutes of the town meeting featured a number of questions on a resolution to spend $2.7 million to improve the town's athletic fields. That issue and a separate resolution to spend $3.5 million on improvements to town roads will be decided in a referendum on Oct. 17.


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