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    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    Norwich City Council to reconsider Route 82 votes

    Norwich – The City Council will reconsider its narrow endorsement of continued design work for the controversial reconstruction of Route 82, with six proposed roundabouts, a median divider and single lanes of traffic in each direction.

    Alderman Swaranjit Singh Khalsa requested the council reconsider two votes taken at the Sept. 6 council meeting that authorized the state Department of Transportation to continue advanced designing for the project and agreed to have the city take ownership of a short, private road. The votes allow the DOT to continue into the advanced design phase.

    Khalsa, who owns the Norwichtown Shell gasoline station/convenience store on West Town Street, said his vote in favor has been questioned as a possible conflict of interest. The DOT project design includes the plan to take a Shell station on Route 82-West Main Street at the Dunham Street intersection, owned by a different company.

    Khalsa said someone raised the issue with him on Sept. 14, and he submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the city :Ethics Commission the next day.

    Khalsa was one of four Democrats who voted in favor of two resolutions agreeing to have the city maintain the sidewalks, landscaping in the completed roundabouts and new streetlights along the 1.3-mile stretch of roadway. The resolutions passed 4-3, with the four Democrats in favor and three Republicans opposed.

    If Khalsa is advised to recuse himself, a potential tie vote would count as a vote against the resolutions.

    The council will not reconsider the two resolutions until Nov. 21, per Khalsa’s request. He asked the council for enough time to allow the Ethics Commission to consider the request. The Ethics Commission meets on the second Monday of each month, but Oct. 10 is a holiday.

    “This is not a political issue,” Khalsa said after Monday’s unanimous council vote to reconsider the resolutions. “People need to understand that.”

    The council vote on Sept. 6 came after overwhelming opposition from business owners and residents who spoke against the Route 82 reconstruction. The project’s first phase would require DOT taking of five properties and partial taking of an estimated 44 properties along the roadway. Additional takings, possibly including a second gas station, would be required for Phase 2.


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