Norwich City Council approves new Norwichtown design district

Norwich – The City Council on Monday approved new regulations establishing a Norwichtown Village District overlay zone that adds design standards to mostly commercially zoned areas adjacent to the Norwichtown Historic District.

The council voted 6-0 Monday to approve both the zoning regulations for the district and an accompanying map defining the area. The district runs along Town Street from the Leffingwell House Museum to the green, and along New London Turnpike from the Otrobando Avenue intersection near Gorin’s Furniture to the green.

A few properties within the local Norwichtown Historic District, including the Norwich school administration office building and the Johnson Home for elderly women, also were included, City Planner Deanna Rhodes said, because they have the potential for future redevelopment. Most of the district encompasses commercial properties at the gateway to the district.

Norwich historical consultant Regan Miner wrote much of the design criteria for the district. She said the concept is to improve the appearance along heavily traveled roads that approach the historic green. Miner said at a June 18 public hearing that the idea is to emphasize that drivers are entering “a special place.”

The council made a few amendments to the wording in an accompanying district guidelines document to give examples of the types of development desired.

The new district includes three modern houses at 61, 63 and 65 Town St., where a developer has proposed building a Burger King restaurant. Rhodes said the Burger King plan was submitted Monday – hours before the council vote to approve the new district regulations. The regulations won’t take effect until after a legal notice is published announcing the vote.

The Burger King plan will be reviewed under previous regulations, not the new Village District guidelines, Rhodes said. But she added that the Burger King design is very much in line with the new regulations, with no large free-standing sign and a building designed in a colonial style.

“They’re trying to comply as close as possible,” Rhodes said. “They didn’t oppose the regulations, and their design is in line with the guidelines.”


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