Monday, December 14, 2009

Loffredo Calls for Movement on Riverfront Plan

Councilmen Bibisi, Bauer, Santangelo, Daley, and Loffredo at Monday's EDC

South Cove Riverfront Development
The newest member of the Economic Development Committee, Vincent Loffredo, called on the EDC to play a more active role in moving a long-stalled riverfront development plan forward. The EDC agreed to ask Mayor Seb Giuliano and Water and Sewer Director Guy Russo to
update the committee at their February meeting.

The riverfront development plan known as South Cove was created over 5 years ago. It proposes a mixed-use waterfront district including national retail, entertainment, housing, and professional office uses, on an 85 acre parcel of land south of Harbor Park. The plan requires the involvement of the State DOT, for changes to Route 9, and an agreement with the Mattabessett District Wastewater Treatment facility, to replace the Middletown treatment facility in the area of the proposed development.

Gerry Daley, Chair of the EDC said that the EDC had not been involved because an agreement first had to be reached to move the sewer treatment plant, "We have a plan for developing South Cove. Until the sewer plant is relocated we can't go forward." Committee member Joe Bibisi concurred, "We're at the mercy of the Mattabesett Commission." Loffredo was insistent, however, "This thing's got to move," and all agreed that an update from the Mayor and the head of Middletown Water and Sewer would be appropriate.

Ordinance to regulate Sexually Oriented Businesses
Director of Planning Bill Warner opened the discussion of a proposed new ordinance with the comment that it was a "Belt and Suspenders" situation. He said that existing Zoning regulations had prevented many business dealing in adult material from opening to Middletown, but the new ordinance would provide further restrictions. The proposed ordinance would allow a business to devote no more than 10% of their floor area to sexually oriented business.

Maromas business proposals
Warner updated the EDC on two of the six proposals to lease city-owned land in Maromas. The
deed restrictions on the land allow "active recreation" but do not allow residential development. He said that Artfarm co-founder Dic Wheeler had informed him that the Artfarm vision for an arts and agriculture center required interns to live on the property, and said the mayor had written to Attorney General Blumenthal asking for a legal interpretation on the issue of whether the deed restrictions prevent residency by Artfarm interns.

The EDC also heard an update on the proposal to build a 9-hole golf course in Maromas, to be called Arawana. Warner and the golf course proposer, Tony Pioppi, said they have been holding intensive negotiations on the terms of a possible lease. Pioppi was at the meeting and he explained that he needed a long-term lease to justify the $3M investment for building the course. Pioppi and Warner are discussing a 10 year lease with eight 10-year extensions possible only if all conditions of the lease are upheld.

The EDC grappled with the City's need to maintain control of the land until the time when it could ensure that there would be appropriate and productive development, and Pioppi's need to gain "control of the land" before he could convince investors to support his project. Before moving forward, EDC members wanted to know what kind of lease might be negotiated. Warner and Pioppi mentioned a rent of 2.5% of gross revenue, based on the model for the Pin Oaks Golf Course, which was proposed off of Newfield Street.

Negotiations are ongoing over the issue of taxes. Arawana would own the improvements to the land, including the greens, and taxes on these improvements could easily top $60k per year, far more than Pioppi hopes to pay in the rent. Warner indicated that the city could offer tax abatements and other incentives to reduce the tax burden for Arowana.

The EDC voted to review the two Maromas proposals again at its January 11th meeting.


Anonymous said...

I have a problem with the owners of Artfarm getting to
live for free on tax payer money in a compound
worth millions in such a picturesque setting
No matter what community contribution,
like Oddfellows which serves only wealthy children who can pay tuition and
low income youth who get stipends- missing the middle class children of tax payers

Anonymous said...

Stop th dream of a golf course. Golf play is declining across thecountry.

Pin Oaks did not pan out , Pistol Creek is housing, see a trend stop the ego trip at taxpayers expense, farm housing seems to fit agricultural use no that ArtFarm is the best use

It wil take years to permit a golf course lool at the Norfolk Yale Farms and they had 100's of millions available not scrugging for $3M. It could be 5 years before dirt is moved and the $3M cost will be $5M and no one is jumping to build at $3M.

The golf course, tro;;ey on Main ego trips need to end, take soem of the $10M for the trolley and do the parking over correctly, wasn't the purpose of the $10M parking expansion?

Anonymous said...

I do not believe that any of the current proposals or future ones for that matter should be allowed to have any type of residences allowed tied to their proposal process. The town should not open that door - it is a slippery slope once you begin to allow this - there will always be another exception and before you know it - the area will be removed from the citizens of Middletown. It is supposed to be OPEN SPACE!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous @9:35. Open Space should not provide housing.The Art Farm is a good organization but I do not think this parcel is a good fit for their need for growth. I would go further, believing that despite the legality of a golf course as the deed was written to include this usage, it is no longer natural Open Space. Golf courses do not protect the genetic diversity of our native plants and animals. In my opinion, these lands , when pieced together as a golf course would continue on a destructive path of Open Space fragmentation. Far more ecologically and environmentally beneficial would be a plan to maintain the grasslands and forests in a natural state and encourage passive recreation.

Anonymous said...

Where can i get my piece of city land to live on for free for the rest of my life? no more mortgage no more rent no more taxes- sign me up!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Forget the golf course, because it would be years and years and would be Pin Oaks all over, especially now the guy does not want to pay city taxes and we get a phantom income of 2.5% of some fairy tale number sometime in the unknown future.

I say leave as is and do this proposal solication again in a couple of years, I thought the idea was to generate jobs and revenue not as others have said free ride on the city.