NORWICH — Residents had a chance Monday to comment on a proposed zoning regulation that would allow a Business Master Plan District to be created on 100 or more acres in the city.
Farmland in the Occum area is being considered for a possible site for a second business park.
The Business Master Plan District was proposed by the Norwich Community Development Corp. as a floating zone that could be applied to large contiguous tracts of land suitable for development as a business park. The land must be at least 100 acre and able to have appropriate road access and either underground utilities or on-site utilities.
Various kinds of professional buildings would be allowed in the zoning area, including offices, computer software, hardware and other tech uses, manufacturing, laboratories, and truck stops. The new language added to the Business Master District Plan specifies that this is a non-inclusive list, and other uses can be deemed appropriate by the Zoning Commission at the time of application submission.
Residents from the Northern part of the city were concerned with how the Business Master District Plan may affect life in the Taftville and Occum areas – the possibility of a second business park would sit in that part of the city by Interstate 395, which the Norwich Community Development Corporation is paying deposits on and has until Dec. 15 2022 to purchase the 272 acres for $3.55 million.
Mark Perkins, who lives on Lawler Lane, said he still had “fresh memories” of a golf course and resort that was planned for that area, which eventually turned into a residential space before being canceled altogether.
Perkins was concerned about an increase in traffic in the area, and about the aesthetics, as the uses to him sounds like a lot of “truck stops and smokestacks.” He also wants the council to study the area before moving forward.
Charles Evans was skeptical that Norwich was the only buyer for the property, after the golf course and residential project was canceled 10 years ago. He also wants the city to consider using more of the existing Stanley Israelite Business Park and consider bringing more businesses into downtown Norwich, before considering a second business park.
Evans is leery of the city having more wasteful spending.
“I’m for development that makes sense,” Evans said.
Alderwoman Ella Myles, among other council members, said it would be important for the city to have control over what that land can be used for. While seeing factory buildings or other industrial facilities may not be the most appealing thing while getting of I395, but it would be better than having a business that creates another brownfield in the city.
“In 20 years, they’ll gift the city that filthy property, and it’ll be our problem to clean,” Myles said.