Mystic development plans should align with existing zoning
If you like downtown Mystic, you should know about Smiler’s Wharf. The owners of Seaport Marine have come up with a solution to the blight they themselves have caused by neglecting their marina. You might think they would take advantage of the booming marina industry and great success of their Red 36 restaurant and announce the rebuilding of Seaport Marine into a world class marina. That is what this property is zoned for. Sadly, that is not what they have proposed.
They are requesting: 1) a change in zoning from Marine Commercial to Neighborhood Development District, in essence, a gift worth millions of dollars, for the neglect of their property; and 2) approval of their master plan that will allow them to turn their dilapidated marina into a massive commercial development project that includes a five-story, 45-unit hotel; a three-story, 200-seat restaurant; 16 townhouses; six units of multifamily housing; a six-story, 25-unit apartment building that will be the tallest building in Mystic at 74 feet, right on the water, blocking the view from the public walkway. All of this to be built in a flood plain next to a wetland!
The Neighborhood Development District zone was enacted to benefit blighted and run-down neighborhoods. This neighborhood is not blighted or rundown. It is the Seaport Marine property that is rundown. How does building a hotel and an apartment building on the Seaport Marine site benefit the neighborhood? All it will do is increase already unbearable traffic and parking problems in the neighborhood. It will require the completion of a sewer line from Mystic to the Borough for which the citizens of Stonington will have to pay.
Seaport Marine is not a neighborhood. It is a business. This marine business property should be rebuilt under the existing Marine Commercial zoning. However, that may not happen. Our local politicians state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton and state Rep. Kate Rotella, D-Stonington, requested a $10 million state grant supporting this project.
The Stonington selectmen should be engaging with the citizens of the town and making their opinions known. They should be listening to the will of the people, especially the ones that live nearby.
Learn more at the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on the project that continues tonight at 7 in the Stonington High School auditorium. The developers will present a rebuttal to the public opposition and PZC members will question the developers.
Daniel Sims is a resident of Mystic.
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