Norwich Community Development Corp. President Kevin Brown, standing front, and real estate consultant Henry Resnikoff, standing behind, answer questions about a proposed Business Park North from about 100 residents who will attend the Norwich Worship on Wednesday November 9, 2022 Center attended a neighborhood meeting that also borders the proposed business park.
Norwich — Nearly 100 neighbors of a proposed second business park showered on Norwich Community Development Corp officials during a 90-minute public forum on Wednesday. with questions about the proposal for 384 acres of former farmland and woodland in the city’s Occum area.
Local residents protested the possible noise, traffic, light pollution, construction disruption and displacement of wildlife that the proposed development could cause and questioned why the city needed a second business park.
“You’re a professional at what you do,” said resident Jessica Quay. “We are for our houses. Do you live here? You don’t even live in this town.”
NCDC President Kevin Brown and real estate consultant Henry Resnikoff provided an overview of the project and answered questions in the first public forum on the project. City Council, which also serves as Norwich’s zoning authority, will hold a public hearing on December 5 at 7:30pm on a proposed master development plan for what NCDC has called Business Park North.
NCDC has an option to purchase the property, which includes the former Tarryk and Doolittle farms at Canterbury Turnpike and Lawler Lane and adjacent to Interstate 395, for $3.55 million. Brown described the land to residents as “the last acre” of developable industrial land in the city.
Norwich hopes to attract ancillary developments related to the burgeoning wind turbine industry in the North East, particularly related to the development of New London’s State Pier as a port for offshore wind infrastructure.
However, NCDC is currently seeking approval of the proposed master plan and a new road network through the property with a redesigned exit 18 of I-395 to provide primary access to the park. The road would direct commercial park traffic through a roundabout onto the new main access road for the park.
A second roundabout would be built at the Canterbury Turnpike junction, designed to prevent trucks belonging to the industrial park from exiting and entering the Canterbury Turnpike residential area. But fire engines could reach the new Canterbury Turnpike road for emergencies, Resnikoff said.
When asked why the project was necessary, Brown said the city’s current Stanley Israelite Business Park on West Town Street is “93% full” and brings the city $7 million in taxes annually. He also said that new technology companies would not find most of the remaining available business park space suitable for high-tech precision manufacturing.
Samuel Browning, a Scotland Road resident, said he had suggested many times that the city should “take down this ballpark,” meaning the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium, and make 50 acres of developable land available.
Brown said NCDC officials cannot control private property in the current commercial park, which may only be partially occupied, or city property at Dodd Stadium. But he said new technology companies would not find most of the remaining available business park space suitable for high-tech precision manufacturing.
The master plan shows areas with solar panels, but Brown and Resnikoff said these were placed in locations on the concept plan that are unsuitable for other developments, such as. B. Areas with steep slopes or rocky outcrops.
Nate Weiss, owner of the Sunny Waters Mobile Home Park, said there are “virtually no” designated buffer zones between the solar fields and neighboring properties. Resnikoff said the park will be subject to required buffer zones. But Weiss said that would subject the neighbors “to the whims of the city council” like the planning approval committee.
Resnikoff said once the park is established, any proposed development would require approval of the site development plan by the city’s planning and wetland boards.
Resnikoff said the park’s master plan has received approval from the city’s Wetlands Authority and will be reviewed Tuesday, Nov. 15, by the City Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the council’s zoning committee. The master plan then requires state and federal transportation and environmental approval, including from the Federal Highway Administration and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Local residents remained skeptical about the proposed new access road, whether the roundabout would keep business park traffic off local roads, and whether the proposed business park would be a boon to the city’s tax base.
Resident Nelson French said the city has a record of offering tax breaks to businesses that leave when the breaks end. Brown said the developments would qualify for seven years of phased property tax breaks, with property taxes increasing by 20% a year until they reach full taxation after seven years.