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Sandy Hook Business Owners Lobby For Projects

Owners want the town to extend the public water supply and beautify the streets

Sandy Hook business owners are urging the town to undertake a combined $1.7 million project to extend the public water supply line and beautify the area streets as soon as possible.

Supporters said moving the projects forward is essential to the continued revitalization of Sandy Hook.

Part of the project – a $450,000 project to extend a public water supply line further into Sandy Hook – is on the 2010-11 list of slated capital improvements. But a $1.25 million proposal to beautify the street landscape has been delayed to the following year.

Business owners, who have once again banded together as the Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity, are trying to bump the beautification effort, also known as the Phase 2 streetstcape project, up a year. In the past, the project has waffled on the priority list, members said.

"It just sort of fizzled out there and got kicked down the ladder a little bit," said Michael Burton, a Newtown developer who was among the first to take advantage of zoning changes made in the 1990s to spur development in Sandy Hook.

The revitalization of the area began with zoning rule changes that allowed for a mix of commercial and residential uses in the area. Later, the town agreed to install public sewer lines into the area and then allowed owners to construct multiple buildings on a single property parcel. The town also agreed to extend a public water line into part of the area.

In 2006, a beautification project to add sidewalks, lighting and other pedestrian friendly touches to the Sandy Hook stretch of Church Hill Road attracted business and shoppers to the area.

"It is already a destination for out-of-town people," Mike Kerler, the owner of Sandy Hook Wine and Liquor said at a recent Legislative Council meeting.

This latest effort would continue the beautification work, extending the sidewalk, lighting and other decorative touches to Riverside and Glen roads and Washington Street.

Shopkeepers also want a further extension of the public water line, which would allow for even more development. Having a private well on a property limits where buildings can be constructed and how many can be served from that single well.

In some municipalities, property owners are forced to pay for similar requests. In this case, Burton said Sandy Hook landowners cannot afford to finance the projects and instead, want the to use municipal bonding to pay for the cost, saying the town would benefit.

For instance, the former service station on Glen Road has sat unused and undeveloped for years. The town is owed back taxes on the property, but until the property is sold and developed, Newtown will unlikely be able to collect any money, business owners said. The service station site is apparently polluted, and would need to undergo a cleanup as well as have access to the public water supply before the land is developed, SHOP members said.

The council appeared to have heeded the calls and has asked the Board of Finance to consider having both projects placed on the 2010-11 capital improvement budget.

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