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From the First Selectman 1/15/21

Happy New Year – I hope you all are happy and healthy, and I sincerely hope this year is better than last!

We are planning for the Town of Woodbridge to become a vaccination site for Phase 1b, and we are waiting on guidance and instruction from the State.  As soon as we have more information, we will share it with you!  Once the vaccination clinic dates are finalized, seniors 75+ will be notified.  Please use the form on the Town website (www.woodbridgect.org) to share your contact information with us for this purpose.  If you do not have computer access, please contact The Center at 203-389-3430.

The Town is also offering two more walk-up (no appointment needed) COVID testing dates on Sunday, 1/17 and Sunday, 2/14 from 1:30-4:30 pm at the Center Building Gym (4 Meetinghouse Lane).  I encourage you to take advantage of this program.  These free tests are to help identify people who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.  If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or think you have symptoms, please call your doctor.

Also related to COVID-19 the Town is again offering a Tax Deferment Program under Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 9R.  This program is for eligible taxpayers impacted by COVID-19, by application only, which will apply to municipal taxes due on January 1, 2021.  The effect of this program is the equivalent of an extended grace period.  The application is due January 20, 2021 and can be found on the Town website along with more program details.

In response to COVID-19, the Economic Development Commission has found a creative way to encourage residents to support our local businesses through “Woodbridge Bucks.”  This February, the EDC will hold weekly drawings to give out hundreds of dollars in Woodbridge Bucks to be spent locally.  Woodbridge Bucks may be spent at local participating businesses.  To enter the drawings residents must reply to the weekly posts on the Town’s Facebook page (like or follow us here:  www.facebook/woodbridgect) soliciting positive local business reviews and recommendations.  People may also submit recently written positive Yelp or Google reviews of local businesses to the EDC via email (byagla@woodbridgect.org) or mail them to Betsy Yagla; 11 Meetinghouse Lane; Woodbridge CT 06525.

The Economic Development Commission is also encouraging residents and businesses to complete surveys.  Both can be found on the Town’s business website (www.woodbridgect.org/business).  I thank the Commission for all these creative ideas and efforts to encourage everyone to shop, dine and try Woodbridge.

The Town Plan & Zoning (TPZ)Commission has also been very busy with two major issues.  The first is a proposal to relocate the award-winning and very popular New England Brewing from its current location on Amity Road to the corner of Bradley and Litchfield.  I am very excited that the brewery plans to stay in Woodbridge – they had been courted by several area towns.  The move will allow the Brewery to expand operations and capacity.  I believe that nearby businesses will see a positive effect, and I am hopeful this may spur additional development.

TPZ is also in the middle of holding hearings to consider an application to amend the Zoning Regulations and the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development to permit multi-family housing in most of the Town’s residential districts, with affordable units.  You may view the application, other documents, and videos of both Public Hearings on the Town Plan & Zoning Commission page on the Town website (wooodbridgect.org) in the “Government” section.

The Public Hearing has again been continued to February 1, and you may submit comments virtually or by email to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission at ksullivan@woodbridgect.org prior to February 1.  Please DO NOT directly contact commission members about the application.  You may watch the hearings live on local access cable Channel 79, on Youtube or via Webex – the link will be included in the meeting agenda on our Town website.

I am confident that the Zoning Commission will review the application in a fair, thorough and thoughtful way, and provide an opportunity for all sides to be heard.  I am equally confident that Woodbridge will remain the wonderful community that we have all come to love.

We continue to work against the proposal to construct a cell tower in a residential neighborhood here in Town.  This is a private transaction between a Town resident and Verizon/Cellco.  The Board of Selectmen hired an attorney and consulting engineer to advise the Town in its opposition to location of the tower in a residential neighborhood.  The final decision regarding placement of the tower rests with the State Citing Council.  The Board is not opposed to a new cell tower located in Woodbridge but believe it should NOT be in a residential neighborhood.  We continue to explore alternative locations to find an appropriate and suitable site to provide reliable cell service in this area without impacting our neighborhoods.

Last month at our Regular meeting, the Board of Selectmen discussed a possible bond project to upgrade the Senior Center (with assistance from a State grant), replace three leaky roofs at Beecher Road School, and finally renovate the Old Firehouse and make it a new Community Center, which I envision as a gateway to our Town.  Plans for the Old Firehouse include a fitness room in one bay and two multi-use meeting or program rooms in the other two bays, all on the first floor.  An ADA accessible elevator is also planned for the building.  The Board had been expecting that the Amity Transition School would rent the second floor of the building, and revenue from that program would help offset some of the project expenses.  However, the Amity School District school abruptly decided against using the Town building.  I hope we will proceed with renovations to the second floor, which will include a large meeting room/gathering space and a small kitchenette for Town use.

As a result of how widespread the pandemic is in Woodbridge, I once again ask all residents to PLEASE wear a mask at all times, especially on Town property, including our walking trails and the playgrounds (unless you have a medical exemption or are under age 2).  With the number of folks who are walking, jogging or bicycling on our Town roads, I remind everyone to wear reflective clothing and/or a light so that you are visible to oncoming traffic.

Despite the pandemic, Town offices remain busy.  Our employees have done an amazing job of taking care of our residents for the past ten months.  The Covid-19 Pandemic has brought out the best in many people, especially in the Town of Woodbridge.  I have seen friends and neighbors who have shown compassion and empathy, and those who have offered a helping hand to others during this extraordinary time.  I do believe that help is on the way, especially with the vaccines.  Until then, we must continue to take care of each other.  Thank you all for working with me this past year – let’s usher in 2021 with hope for the future together.

As always, I am happy to hear from you!  My door is virtually open to you and I can be reached at bheller@woodbridgect.org or 203-389-3401.

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