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From the First Selectman: 12/11/20

As of this writing, the coronavirus numbers in our Town and State continue to grow.  As a result of how widespread the pandemic is in Woodbridge, I am asking 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).  I remain very concerned that as we head into the colder months and the holiday season, our positive cases will continue to rise.

Please remember that under Governor Lamont’s Phase 2.1, gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people, whether indoors or outside.  Woodbridge is in “red alert,” as is most of the state.  No matter where you go when you are out and about, treat everyone you have contact with as if they are infected.  Again, as I have stressed and pleaded with everyone for many months, you must do your part to show that you care and respect each other by continuing to do three simple things:  wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and maintain your distance.  Our best defense against this virus is to act responsibly!  We have endured so much, and I know we will remain strong, together, and committed to do all we can to fight back against this horrific disease.  Thank you for your continued help.

As I write this article, we are working with the State of Connecticut to hold an additional “pop-up” testing event.  The first event we held was quickly overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to be tested.  I am hopeful that the clinic will bring more staff to the next event to meet the demand.  These test centers are run by the State, not the Town of Woodbridge.  There are no appointments and the events are open to all (not just members of the Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge community).  That creates the long lines and wait times.  Please check the Town’s website (woodbridgect.org) and Facebook page (facebook.com/WoodbridgeCT) where we will announce details once we have them.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, call your doctor for an appointment to get tested.  With an appointment, you may eliminate the long wait times.  You may also visit www.211ct.org/covidtesting, enter your zip code or town, and press the yellow search icon to find additional testing locations.  Griffin Hospital in Derby has expanded their hours to offer weekend testing times.  If you call 203-437-6815 to make an appointment and use the word “community” you will not need a doctor’s note for a test appointment.

As you do your holiday shopping this season, please remember to “shop, dine and try” Woodbridge.  Supporting our local businesses is always important, but even more so during the pandemic.  To learn more about local businesses, visit the Town’s website, click on “business” and check out the business directory.  It is so important to do all we can to keep our businesses healthy and thriving.

The Economic Development Commission will be mailing surveys to local businesses to ask for feedback on what it is like running a business in Town and suggestions for improvement.  Additionally, they are also hosting an online-only survey for residents about what kinds of businesses people would like to see in Woodbridge.  Visit the Town’s website and click on “Business” to participate in the survey.  This is very important, so please take the time to share your input!

Despite the pandemic, our Town will be seeing some wonderful changes in the business district.  Our Town Plan & Zoning Commission is currently considering an application from New England Brewing Company – an incredibly popular award-winning brewery – to move from its current location on Amity Road to the empty parcel at the southern corner of Litchfield Turnpike and Bradley Road.  They had been courted by New Haven and other towns.  Over the course of many months I met several times with the owner and developer, and I am so pleased that they have agreed to stay and invest in Woodbridge.  There is a separate proposal to build active adult (over 55) housing units at the northern corner of Litchfield and Bradley, across from the Brewery’s planned new home.  Additionally, an upscale wine store may open at 245 Amity Road.  All of these projects are welcome additions and may help draw more customers to our existing businesses.

On November 30, the Woodbridge Town Plan and Zoning Commission held a Special Meeting to consider an application which proposes substantial changes to the Town’s Zoning Regulations.  The application is to amend the 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 video of the Public Hearing on the Town Plan & Zoning Commission page on the Town website (wooodbridgect.org) in the “Government” section.

This application to amend Woodbridge’s Zoning Regulations is pending before the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, and I am confident that the members of the Commission will conduct a thorough, thoughtful, and fair process before making a decision, consistent with the law.

The Public Hearing has been continued to January 4 and you may submit comments virtually or by email to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission at ksullivan@woodbridgect.org prior to January 4.  You may also watch on local access cable Channel 79, on Youtube or via Webex – the link will be included in the meeting agenda on our Town website.

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.  Recently, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to hire an attorney to advise the Town in its opposition to location of the tower in a residential neighborhood.  We also plan to hire a consultant engineer as well, should it become necessary, to guide us through the technical aspects and verify Verizon’s data.  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.

This year has certainly been challenging.  Recently, the federal government’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that the “Coronavirus could worsen in winter and remain a major threat through 2021.”  We must be prepared for some hard days ahead, but hopefully through best practices and the eventual distribution of vaccines, we will gradually transition out of this terrible time.  Please do all you can to keep yourselves and each other safe so we can all be together again.

As always, my door remains virtually open to you.  If you need to reach me, please call 203-389-3401 or email me at bheller@woodbridgect.org.  Happy 2021!  Hoping its better!!

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