Town News You Might Not Know

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This month’s hot topic is Capital Expenditures, followed by the zoning appeal from Riccardo Sotil. Highlights for the Boards or Commissions that met since the last Observer follow. If you want all the nitty-gritty details, they can be found on Suffield’s website, under Agendas, Minutes and Recordings.

Advisory Commission on Capital Expenditures

The Town Engineer provided an overview of six capital expense requests for Pavement Management, Drainage Issues, Small Bridge Project, Updated Storm Water Permit Requirements and repair or replace the Quarry Road and Russell Avenue Bridges.

The Planning and Development Director presented open space in three categories: Current Open Space, Farms in the Pipeline, and Future Projects. Funding is required to maintain the ability to work with multiple properties. There is a possibility that requests for farmland preservation funding in the next few years could be reduced or eliminated due to large building/infrastructure projects that may come as a result of recommendations from the Facility Master Plan currently underway. The issue of Affordable Housing was also touched on as it pertains to possible conflicts with land preservation.

Public Works requests from the Director included leases for a 6-wheel truck and backhoes; information technology, energy efficiency (solar, EV charging stations), and vehicles (2024 International Roloff truck, 2025 International dump truck, dozer waste handler). Funds were also requested for HVAC, roofing, Sunrise Park, a woodchipper, an asphalt hot box, and a landfill scale.

The Facilities Director and Business Manager requested funding for Spaulding School (boilers, playscape, parking lot repaving and expansion, portable classroom repairs, Sani-glaze bathrooms, and replace the west wing floor). Also, for McAlister (playscape, HVAC, foyer bathrooms, boilers), and for Suffield High School (band instruments and chairs, cyclorama replacement, athletic complex lighting, repair front column footings). Additional items were included in their requests.

Board of Education

Suffield has submitted a waiver for their curriculum model for the upcoming school year that demonstrates the curriculum model is competent in report details.

Planning and Zoning – The meeting consisted of reviewing revised plans to repurpose the former St. Joseph’s Church. The plan reduced the number of apartments from 16 to 12. This was a Public Hearing where residents raised concerns about traffic, drainage, and other topics. No decision was made.

Police Commission Recertification training is required by all personnel by June 30. Five members are up for the Behavioral Health Assessment, and drug analysis will be completed in March.

Zoning Board of Appeals

A legal notice was published in The Hartford Courant for a Public Hearing for Riccardo Sotil, Lasa Extract, LLC to appeal the Zoning Enforcement Officer’s decision that a cannabis micro-cultivator is not a valid, legally nonconforming use. The rationale to overturn the ruling is to allow the manufacturing of hemp products in this location as a continuation of a non-conforming use that was allowed in 2017 when hemp became legal in the state.

When the hearing was opened to the public, Edwin Vargas, former State Representative from Hartford, spoke in support of the applicant, noting that it was an opportunity to continue the agricultural character of the town. Several others spoke in support of Mr. Sotil’s endeavor and his character.

The Public Hearing is pending additional information gathering and will reconvene at the next meeting.

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