12 development lots proposed for new Norwich business park
Norwich ― A plan to create 12 development lots in the 384-acre, newly named Occum Industrial Center will be reviewed by the city planning commission, starting with a public hearing Tuesday.
The Commission on the City Plan will open the public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall on the proposed 12-lot commercial subdivision on the land owned by the Norwich Community Development Corp. and proposed for a second business park.
The hearing will begin with presentations by NCDC on the subdivision plan, but the commission will not vote on the plan that night, Director of Planning and Neighborhood Services Deanna Rhodes said.
NCDC’s plan to build an access road into the property from Route 97 near Interstate 395’s Exit 18 ramp was approved last year by the Inland Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Commission. The wetlands commission will review modifications to the road plan at its meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at the planning office, 23 Union St. The access road plan also is under permit review by state and federal transportation agencies.
Rhodes said that along with waiting for the wetlands commission vote on the road, the planning commission might require revisions to the subdivision plan before voting on the application. In her report to the commission, Rhodes suggested if the commission wishes to conduct a site walk, it could be scheduled for noon Dec. 12.
December’s Commission on the City Plan meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 19, when the public hearing will resume.
NCDC President Kevin Brown said the agency chose the name Occum Industrial Center to provide interested developers a geographical reference point, as opposed to the previous name of Business Park North.
“Right now, if you’re an industrial developer and you Google ‘Occum,’ it’s a recognizable geographical place,” Brown said. “You are hooked in with a map.”
NCDC hopes to obtain permits to build the road by February and put the project out to bid for construction to begin in late fall.
NCDC purchased the 17 parcels that make up the proposed industrial center for $3.55 million last December. In spring, the agency obtained an $11.3 million state Community Investment Fund grant to build 2,700 feet of roadway into the property and a $500,000 grant for engineering and design work.
The proposed industrial center has been met with opposition from Occum residents, who have called the plan excessive and not in line with the rural former farmland and woodland property.
The land is zoned for business park or commercial development, but the neighborhood group, Preserving Norwich Neighborhoods LLC, has filed suit against the city’s new Plan of Conservation and Development, which recommended the area for business park development. Ten years earlier, the city’s plan of development recommended rural, low-density development there, the group pointed out.
In the subdivision application, NCDC has proposed preserving 25 acres of the property, or 7.16%, as open space, either to be transferred to the city or to a land trust organization. The area proposed for preservation is adjacent to I-395 and contains a “prominent wetland,” Rhodes wrote in her staff review of the subdivision application.
Editor’s note: This version corrects the date of the December meeting of the Commission on the City Plan.
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