Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Local News

No Plans to Develop Land Parcel Near Bokum Center, Says Needleman

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What was once an area overgrown with invasive species and the site of several structures deemed unsafe by the Essex building official, part of this 10.28 parcel of land in Essex owned by Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman has now been cleared. Needleman says that he has no plans to develop the site in the foreseeable future nor have any applications been submitted with the Town of Essex to do so. Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier

What was once an area overgrown with invasive species and the site of several structures deemed unsafe by the Essex building official, part of this 10.28 parcel of land in Essex owned by Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman has now been cleared. Needleman says that he has no plans to develop the site in the foreseeable future nor have any applications been submitted with the Town of Essex to do so. (Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier)

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What was once an area overgrown with invasive species and the site of several structures deemed unsafe by the Essex building official, part of this 10.28 parcel of land in Essex owned by Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman has now been cleared. Needleman says that he has no plans to develop the site in the foreseeable future nor have any applications been submitted with the Town of Essex to do so. Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier

What was once an area overgrown with invasive species and the site of several structures deemed unsafe by the Essex building official, part of this 10.28 parcel of land in Essex owned by Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman has now been cleared. Needleman says that he has no plans to develop the site in the foreseeable future nor have any applications been submitted with the Town of Essex to do so. (Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier)

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What was once an area overgrown with invasive species and the site of several structures deemed unsafe by the Essex building official, part of this 10.28 parcel of land in Essex owned by Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman has now been cleared.Needleman says that he has no plans to develop the site in the foreseeable future nor have any applications been submitted with the Town of Essex to do so. Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier

What was once an area overgrown with invasive species and the site of several structures deemed unsafe by the Essex building official, part of this 10.28 parcel of land in Essex owned by Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman has now been cleared.Needleman says that he has no plans to develop the site in the foreseeable future nor have any applications been submitted with the Town of Essex to do so. (Photo by Elizabeth Reinhart/The Courier)

Although part of a 10.28-acre parcel of land at the corner of Plains Road and Westbrook Road in Essex has been cleared, there are currently no plans for development on the site, according to State Senator and Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman, who owns the property.

Needleman purchased the property about two years ago after the death of Laura Parker, who was a member of the Doane family. The Doane family, like many early Essex settlers, owned a large amount of flat land paralleling Route 153, because it was ideal for farming.

“It was very important to me that an outside developer was not the one who took that property,” said Needleman in a phone interview.

The parcel encompasses a large farm stand, Scott’s Farm & Greenhouses, which is operated by the Winston family, which also operates Scott’s CT Valley Orchards in Deep River.

“Eventually I or my sons may want to do something, but the primary purpose of buying that land was to keep the farm stand there,” said Needleman. “So, the other parts of it which were overgrown and disgusting, I felt like I had to spend some money to do something because it was dangerous, first of all, and it was ugly.”

Needleman acquired a demolition permit from the town earlier this year to demolish several structures on the site, which included a house he said was infested primarily with termites.

“It was beyond the point where it [the house] could be saved,” said Needleman. “It had been abandoned and run down for so many years that we felt that it was unsafe.

“Those barns [on-site] had collapsed. You couldn’t even see them it was so overgrown…We were under an order by the building official to take them down,” he continued.

In addition to the demolition permit, Needleman submitted an application with the Inland Wetlands Commission because work is being done within 100 feet of wetlands.

“We wanted to clean out some of the invasive species that are in there, so they don’t keep spreading,” said Needleman.

The Inland Wetlands application was also “to seed the ground because it’s just topsoil right now,” said Essex Land Use Official Carey Duques. “So they’re looking just to stabilize it, which it is right now, but just for further stabilization through the fall and winter.”

A zoning permit application for a fence, which is required in Essex, has also been submitted. This permit would allow for installation of a fence and gate along the area that abuts Plains Road, according to Duques.

This fencing would be in addition to a fence that “is adjacent to Westbrook Road to just enclose some equipment that they could store on the property,” she said.

The parcel is zoned Business District, according to the Essex zoning map, which allows for a variety of different uses like retail or restaurants, but only when granted permission through a special exception by the Essex Planning & Zoning Commission.

“There is no application currently before Planning & Zoning for any of the uses that would be allowed in the Business District like restaurants or retail or any of those things,” said Duques, adding that Needleman has “just the two applications” with the Inland Wetland Commission and with Zoning for the fencing.

Needleman said that in addition to the 10.28-acre parcel, he owns approximately 25 acres abutting, or in the vicinity of it, including the land known as Doane’s Airport.

“It’s four separate parcels, with no specific plan,” said Needleman.



Elizabeth Reinhart covers news for Chester, Deep River, and Essex for Zip06. Email Elizabeth at e.reinhart@shorepublishing.com.

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