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From the First Selectman – May 2021

The month of May often feels like civic participation month in Woodbridge.  Every two years we hold municipal elections in May and this year our elections will be held on Monday, May 3.  The Amity Regional District 5 Budget Referendum is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5.  Also in May the Town holds our Annual Town Meeting at which residents always have a chance to vote on the budget.  This year the meeting (on Monday, May 17) will be virtual due to the pandemic.  Details will be on the Town website as we get closer to the date.  I encourage everyone to participate in these three important ways to make your voice heard!

Unlike in the fall Federal Election, absentee ballot applications for the municipal election will NOT be automatically mailed to all registered voters from the office of the Secretary of the State.  If you choose to vote absentee (either May 3 or May 5, or both) you may download an application online, or request it from the Town Clerk’s office (203-389-3424).  Completed applications may be dropped in the Ballot Box in front of Town Hall or mailed to the Town.

The Town Clerk will then mail you a ballot with two envelopes.  Complete the ballot, put it in the inner envelope, sign the envelope, and put that in the outer envelope and simply drop the completed ballot in the Ballot Box.  All ballots MUST be received by 8:00 pm on May 3rd for the Town Election and 8:00 pm on May 5th for the Amity Referendum.  Applications are required for both the election, and the referendum.

In-person voting will also be available this year.  Polls at the Center Gym (4 Meetinghouse Lane) will be open from 6 am to 8 pm.  The last day to register to vote is Monday, April 26 though you may also do Election Day Registration.

Earlier this month Town buildings opened to the public.  The Library and the Senior Center have limited hours and at all buildings we are asking people to sanitize and sign in when they enter the building for contact tracing purposes.  Masks are obviously required, and are required on all Town property, including outdoor facilities.

Our Human Services Department continues to have access to vaccine appointments through the Quinnipiack Valley Health Department’s weekly clinic in North Haven.  If you would like to be on the list for one of these appointments, please call Jeanette Glicksman at 203-389-3415 or Ellen McDonald at 203-389-3429.

I am pleased to announce that I have now finalized the list names of members who have agreed to serve on the Ad Hoc Housing Study Committee.  These folks will be doing very important work and I am grateful to everyone who volunteered.  As a reminder, the committee will evaluate the data, engage the community, assess housing needs and submit a report to the Board of Selectmen, per our charge to the Committee.  The following residents have agreed to serve:  Debbie Brander, Mica Cardozo, Harriet Cooper, Mary Dean, Buddy Degennaro, Nicole Donzello, Elaine Feldman, James Graham, Kathleen Hunter, Donovan Lofters, Dwight Rowland, Lewis Shaffer and Dominic Thomas.

The group will soon hold its first meeting with the goal of creating the State-mandated Affordable Housing Plan.  The Town Plan and Zoning Commission (TP&Z) continues to work through the 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 housing.  The Public Hearing has been closed and now the Commission has 65 days to make its decision.  You may view the application, other documents, and videos of their Public Hearings on the Town Plan & Zoning Commission page on the Town website.  As a reminder, all the meetings are streamed live on local access cable Channel 79, on the WGATV YouTube channel, and on Webex.

I am confident that TP&Z will review the application in a fair, thorough, and thoughtful way, as it has also provided an opportunity for all sides to be heard at its public hearings over the past several months.  I am equally confident that Woodbridge will remain the wonderful community that we have all come to love.

As many of you are aware, Verizon/Cellco has privately contracted with a Woodbridge landowner to erect a 140-foot cell tower in the area of Newton Road.  Unfortunately, as we have discussed in the past, cell towers are not approved or denied at the local level.  Neither TP&Z nor the Board of Selectmen has the authority to approve or deny these structures.  These decisions are the exclusive jurisdiction of the State of Connecticut Siting Council.  The Board of Selectmen, in our desire to prevent this project, has however, hired a land use attorney to work with the Town to try to find an alternate site for the tower.  The Board does not believe that a cell tower should be erected in any residential neighborhood in our Town.  The Board of Selectmen will continue to do all we can to oppose this project, and we welcome your support.  Should Verizon/Cellco eventually submit an application to the Siting Council regarding its current proposed location at 118 Newton Road, it will be incumbent upon all who oppose this project to submit testimony against it.  It is my hope that the Board of Selectmen will vote to do so as well.  We hope to get a further update from our consultant, and I will send out correspondence as soon as I do.  These consultants continue to review data and if there is a viable alternative, we will share it with Verizon/Cellco and the public.

I continue working on my goal of bringing residents together:  At our recent Board of Sleectmen meeting, we approved a series of events dubbed “Second Saturdays” beginning in May, with the goal of providing free family fun.  In May there will be a chalk art party, in June we will host a tag sale, in July the Friends of the Library will host a small book sale, in August there will be an art event and in September a craft fair.  More details are on the Town website, including how to sign up to be a tag sale or craft fair vendor.  I hope to see you at some of the events!

The Board also approved a local vendor, Café Rebelde, to sell coffee in the Grove from a coffee cart, most likely in the mornings.  For many years residents have requested coffee in the center of Town and I hope that this will be another opportunity to bring residents together.  Café Rebelde is run by local couple Carissa and Mauriel Vega and they import and roast single-origin fair trade coffee.  They will begin to brew and sell that coffee sometime in May and will also have pastries for sale.

Please visit the calendar on the Town website to see upcoming community events or post your own event if its open to the public.  The calendar includes details for community events such as the Earth Day event, Trail Clean-up Day and our wonderful Memorial Day ceremony.  Even apart due to the pandemic, we remain TOGETHER.  I wish to express my thanks and gratitude to all Woodbridge residents who have taken the time over the past year to reach out to me by phone, text or email.  I have and will continue to listen to your opinions and suggestions.  By working together, we can solve problems and enhance the quality of life in our wonderful Town.  As always, my door remains open to you.  Please feel free as always to reach out to me at 203-389-3401 or bheller@woodbridgect.org.  Keep in touch and keep safe Woodbridge!

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