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North Branford Year in Review: 2021

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By
Pam Johnson/Zip06.com


12/28/2021 03:23 p.m. EST

Here’s a look at some of stories making news in North Branford in 2021:

January

On Jan. 5, the Town Council seats new member Tara Downes (D) to fill the remaining term of the late Lewis Paternoster.

Spurred by concerns from police and fire commission members about using private devices for town business, the Town Council accepts donated tech from North Branford Public Schools (NBPS). Together with refurbished, repurposed iPads, each commissioner is given a town government email address.

East Shore District Health Department (ESDHD), in partnership with towns including North Branford, Branford, East Haven, Guilford, and Madison, announces plans to conduct COVID-19 vaccination clinics for seniors 75 years and older, under the state’s new vaccine phase-in schedule. Volunteers are needed to help staff clinics, assist seniors with registration in the Federal Vaccine Administration and Management System (VAMS), and to provide transportation. Medically trained residents are needed to help provide vaccinations. A clinic will be located at the Stanley T. Williams Community Center in Northford.

By a 5-0 vote, the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) approves plans for the new North Branford police facility at 305 Forest Road/Route 22. The $7.5 million project, approved for bonding in 2020, will receive $128,000 in state funding. It replaces the outmoded headquarters at 260 Forest Road, first built in 1974 and last renovated in 1993. The new facility site on the eastern side of Forest Road includes 13.5 acres of town-owned open land, backing up to a wooded, steep slope bordering with Tilcon Connecticut, Inc. A grading/erosion control plan will level land and install a retaining wall along the back of the property. North Branford Public Works will begin some preparation work at the site including removal of trees.

On Jan. 28, resident Lynn Riordan commemorates the 30th birthday of her late son, Matthew Picciuto, with balloons as the NBHS “Slow Down, Drive Safe” sign in the student parking lot. The sign was installed in 2011 as one of the early outcomes of Matt’s Mission, the non-profit Riordan established within the first year of her son’s passing. Riordan, who stepped down from the non-profit in 2016, shares it will finish out its service by awarding Matthew Picciuto NBHS Scholarships through 2023.

Working with Tracy Wootton, director of curriculum and instruction, and Martha Vaughn, director of business and personnel, and with input from administrators from the town’s four schools, Superintendent of Schools Scott Schoonmaker provides the Board of Education (BOE) with three proposed budget scenarios for the 2021-’22 fiscal year. Budget priorities include maintaining effective class sizes, continuing and expanding the social-emotional curriculum, continuing to explore and expand STEM instruction, exploring bringing in a manufacturing initiative to expand skilled labor opportunities for students, and continuing to develop core instructional programs district-wide.

North Branford’s January COVID-19 cases lower to 231, following a spike of 277 in December from 117 in November and 44 in October.

February

The Town Council unanimously votes to name the dog park at 298 Forest Road Osorio Dog Park in honor of the late Dr. Efren Osorio, a devoted local veterinarian who passed away due to complications from COVID-19 in January.

On Feb. 2, North Branford becomes one of Connecticut’s first towns with identified cases of the more infectious B.1.1.7 (United Kingdom) COVID-19 variant. The Connecticut Department of Public Health and ESDHD announce finding the variant when investigating a COVID-19 outbreak caused by a large family gathering in town. That outbreak is also linked to the NBHS Hockey team, which is being quarantined.

Partisanship and political divides in the United State have, by many measures, never been greater than now. On Feb. 3, North Branford/Guilford State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-86) and Guilford/Branford representative Sean Scanlon (D-98) show their constituents bridging the chasm can begin with listening. They host a public conversation in Guilford to share disagreements, and common ground, in a civil manner.

The BOE recommends a proposed $33,130,121 operating budget for the 2021-’22 school year, an annual spending increase of 2.14 percent, and a proposed $102,734 capital expense. The BOE budget will next be reviewed during the town’s annual budget deliberation process, which begins March 16.

Halfway through February, North Branford reports 106 cases of COVID-19. Among all municipalities statewide, the level of North Branford’s rate of cases per 100,000 (adjusted for population) is ranked 36 out of 169 towns, with the highest rate of cases at 1 and the lowest at 169. However, if the data had further “teased out” some of the state’s smaller communities, a truer ranking for North Branford would actually show the town as having the 26th-highest rate of positivity of municipalities statewide, says ESDHD Director Michael Pascucilla.

ESDHD reports that, consistent with other towns statewide, North Branford’s positive cases for COVID-19 are highest among ages 20 to 29 and ages 50 to 59, making up nearly 50 percent of cases. With about 37 percent of residents between the ages of 55 to 64, that age group will be the focus of the next wave of vaccination efforts, once more vaccine is available.

Quarantines are required for some Town Hall staff following an COVID-19 outbreak.

While the town-wide COVID-19 positivity rate is trending down, it’s still nearly twice the state average. ESDHD Director Michael Pascucilla discusses latest case numbers with the Town Council, and also addresses the council’s call to help reopen Town Hall to public traffic. Pascucilla notes school sports’ social gatherings are also noted as cause of community spread. He also shares some positive news about North Branford’s higher-than-state average elderly vaccination rate.

Regional Water Authority (RWA) police report an increase in criminals posing as utility employees in Connecticut to gain access to homes to steal money or property. Residents can protect themselves by staying vigilant and always asking for identification.

North Branford Congregational Church’s annual drive-through Ash on Your Dash is offered on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 17. Following COVID-19 protocols, in addition to masking required for all participants, ashes are applied with a Q-Tip.

March

On March 5, North Branford Police Department (NBPD) and fire department (NBFD) respond to a fatal two-car accident on Foxon Road/Route 80 at Clear Lake Road. Police share the news that North Branford resident, Joseph Perrelli, 60, has died as a result of the accident .

With the recent departure of Town Planner Carey Duques to begin a similar role in Essex, the PZC notes new Town Planner William Agresta, with more than 30 years’ experience, will begin working with the town on March 8.

After a year’s hiatus, the Potato and Corn Festival (POCO) is back on the calendar, with “plans in the works” for Aug. 5 to 8 at the POCO grounds at Augur Field. However, the ability for the event to take place will be based on meeting any additional requirements and financial costs arising as COVID-19 regulations continue to adjust. The news follows Gov. Ned Lamont’s early March announcement lifting crowd restrictions, as of April 2, to hold summer festivals with masking and proper distancing.

North Branford comes through a full year of COVID-19. The most devastating impact, the loss of loved ones from deaths attributed to the virus, stands at 18 lives lost in North Branford as of March 11, among the more than 7,760 people who died statewide.

With seven of nine members present March 16, the Town Council unanimously votes to approve three different bond authorizations totaling $81,925,000 to finance a new high school, new police headquarters, and new emergency communications system. Bonding of $67,750,000 goes to the NBHS project, $8,525,000 to the NBPD facility, and $5,650,000 to communications. The combined total includes project costs, short-term interest estimates, and bond issuance costs.

The community mourns when an 18-year-old resident, Jonathan Ryan Boughton, is killed March 22 in a car and moped crash at the intersection of Foxon and Sea Hill roads. First responders at the scene provided “extraordinary efforts,” to his life-threatening injuries and rushed him to Yale New Haven Hospital, said NBPD.

With assistance from East Haven police and other agencies, NBPD tracks and recovers a vehicle stolen from a Branford Road daycare parking lot within two hours of its theft on March 29. The vehicle is located, unoccupied, in New Haven.

April

Luke Izzo, 16, is the youngest moderator of NY/CT/MA Vaccine Hunters and Angels Facebook group, at 24,000 members strong and growing. Izzo spends about 40 volunteer hours weekly helping track down excess COVID-19 vaccine doses and assisting elderly and others with navigating VAMS. Izzo also established the group’s non-English-speaking help hotline.

On April 20, the Town Council recommends a 2021-’22 fiscal year budget of $55,020,430 with a mill rate of 33.14 mills. While it’s a $1.083 million annual spending increase over last year’s budget, actions taken by the council to control taxation would serve to decrease the annual mill rate by 0.44 mills. The town’s current mill rate is 33.58 mills. Next, voters will weigh in during the annual referendum question vote, set for May 11. Results of vote are only be actionable for consideration if at least 15 percent of the electorate turns out at the polls.

In the end, the unknowns outweigh the ability for the POCO Festival to take place this summer. On April 28, the POCO Committee and POCO Coordinator Jenn McCulloch share the “difficult decision” to postpone the fest until 2022.

NBPS announces the 19th year of its summer camp program. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, there will be adjustments to the camp schedule and activities, and health and safety protocols put in place in accordance with ESDHD and Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.

May

A North Branford resident who served in Vietnam and broke both his feet while fighting for his country receives a big assist from the RWA. Simon Hale, who still has trouble walking, and his wife Barbara, who uses a wheelchair, were having well water quality issues and had been drinking only bottled water while bathing and washing with contaminated well water. On May 2, RWA crews complete a main-to-curb service for the Hales, free of charge. Several RWA employees volunteer their time.

On May 10, the police commission recognizes several NBPD members for outstanding performance in the line of duty. Officer Timothy Cunnigham receives the Lifesaving Award for a February 2020 assist to an unresponsive person due to an overdose. Officer Ronald Ferrucci receives a Certificate of Commendation for outstanding, continued community service including years of community food drives. A Unit Citation Award is given to Detective Robert Deko, Officer Thomas Pacelli, Officer Massimo Piroli, and Officer Matthew Hannon for their assistance in responding to an active shooter barricaded in a Branford home on April 13, 2021, as members of the department and/or members of South Central Regional SWAT team.

With conditions, the PZC unanimously approves the site development plan application for the phased demolition and replacement of the existing two-story NBHS building with a new three-story building at 654 Foxon Road/49 Caputo Road. The PZC approves a smaller ground footprint of approximately 108,740 square feet (a gross reduction of approximately 18,260 square feet), including changes to the internal road circulation patterns and parking, updates to utilities, creation of a new practice field, wetland activities, and other associated site improvements, landscaping, and lighting.

With an extremely low turnout of just over one percent of voters answering the town’s Budget Referendum question May 11, North Branford’s budget of $55,020,430 and new 33.14 mill rate is adopted. Just 116 of the town’s registered voters, or 1.2 percent of its 9,734 electors, went to the polls.

Less than six months into the year, NBPD and NBFD have responded to more than 130 motor vehicle accidents, including two fatalities, numerous injuries, extrications from vehicles, and a vehicle into a building. With a goal of increased traffic safety, on May 25, NBPD issues an alert notifying the community that police are now conducting “intensive motor vehicle enforcement throughout the town for an extended period of time.”

A Memorial Day ceremony is held outside of Town Hall in lieu of the Memorial Day Parade, canceled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic. The ceremony is also available to view online. An invocation is given by Gerry Borgerson of North Branford Congregational Church. Veterans of North Branford/Northford, a Color Guard from NBPD and NBFD, Mayor Robert Viglione, and Town Council members attend.

June

On June 3, police respond to two early morning crimes where cash machines inside two gas station stores were wrenched out, dragged through front entries and driven off. Mobil Gas station, 1371 Middletown Avenue, sustains extensive damage to the front entry after the suspects forced entry through the front door, wrap a cable around the ATM machine, and pull it away using a vehicle. Minutes later, police respond to an alarm to find the same crime occurred at Mobil Gas station, 271 Foxon Road. Video surveillance reveals a similar vehicle and suspect description as the earlier burglary.

The NBHS Class of 2021 will always be “friends for life,” says Class President Gabriella Carofano during commencement remarks on June 14, when 141 seniors graduate on the NBHS school field.

A heartfelt tribute to the life and legacy of the late, long-serving police veteran Christopher Manner is shared with his daughter, Kaila Manner, as an NBHS graduation surprises June 14. As Manner receives her diploma, a long line of NBPD and Branford police in uniform stand by the podium with family to congratulate her. Sgt. Manner passed away in September 2020 and served NBPD for 25 years, through 2011. In 2012, he returned to community policing in Branford for eight years.

During public comments at the Town Council meeting June 15, three residents raise questions concerning the practices of the current town planner/zoning administrator and the council is asked to learn more about the administrative probationary period/hiring process.

On June 21, the police commission and Chief Kevin Halloran promote two NBPD members, Lieutenant Sean Anderson and Sergeant Jeffrey Leiby.

With the two lowest construction bids coming in $2.4 million over budget, North Branford’s Permanent Project Building Committee (PPBC) is working to whittle down increased costs facing the new police station project. Meanwhile, as a safety measure, the Town Council votes on June 29 to amend the project’s approved bonding appropriation of $8,525,000 to allow for appropriating up to $12,250,000, if needed, for the project to continue to go forward.

ESDHD’s Climate Change Project’s online survey seeks input from residents.

Work continues on the modern roundabout project at Route 1/Route 22 at the town lines of North Branford, Branford and Guilford. DOT is on schedule to complete the project by Oct. 30, 2021.

Shoreline Chamber of Commerce’s tourism committee’s new “Come to the Connecticut Shoreline” campaign launches to promote attractions, dining, and shopping in membership towns of North Branford, Branford, and Guilford.

After serving 34 years as town engineer, Kurt. A Weiss, P.E., retires from town service effective June 30.

July

The PZC approves some minor modifications to the NBHS site, including doubling the size of a storage room by an additional 200 square feet, relocating air chillers from the roof to the ground, revising a Dumpster enclosure to be consolidated into one enclosure, adding six parking spaces in service area, eliminating central parking lot islands and 16 trees, addition of two vehicular gates to control traffic flow through the site at certain times, and reducing sidewalk width to 10 feet.

Numerous residents raise concerns during a PZC public hearing on a proposed zoning text amendment to establish a new Special Use Permit in an R-40 (residential) zoning district to permit a condominium on parcels containing a minimum of 5 acres and maximum of 15 acres net buildable area in consideration of new state legislature affordable dwelling laws. Applicant Panico Designs of Northford grants the PZC a review time extension and the public hearing is continued to Aug. 19.

The Northford-North Branford Women’s Club and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), congratulate and thank 50-year members Sheila Juniver and Carol Belluci at the club’s annual dinner.

Project construction management for the new NBHS is awarded to Gilbane Building Company. The 30-month, multiple phase project will create a new school to accommodate 524 high school students within a 106,100 square foot school building, designed by Quisenberry Arcari Malik (QA+M) Architecture of Farmington. Phase 1 will begin with abatement and demolition of a rear portion of the building. The project is orchestrated to accommodate operations at the existing high school while underway. The former NBHS will be completely demolished after construction is complete. The $66 million project, of which some 43 percent will be reimbursed by the state, is expected to be completed by December 2023.

A social media post with racist comments made by two young male residents is brought NBPD’s attention, touching off an investigation including review by the Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney Office, which determines no criminal charges to be filed. NBPD releases a statement noting the swift investigation exemplifies its commitment to transparency and being “committed with all of those in our community and around the state of Connecticut in condemning racism.”

At the July 13 Town Council meeting, Town Manager Michael Paulhus introduces the new town engineer, Victor Benni, who is introduced together with Town Planner/Zoning Administrator Agresta, who began with the town in March with more than 30 years’ previous experience. Benni brings 15 years of private sector experience and 10 years of municipal experience.

In response to the COVID-19 Delta variant spread, ESDHD conducts pop-up Wellness Clinics/Vaccination sites in North Branford, Branford, Guilford, Madisonn and East Haven. The new ESDHD Public Health Mobile Clinic vehicle is also deployed to assist.

Branford’s town finance director sends North Branford Finance Director Anthony Esposito an offer revising the Cosgrove Animal Shelter municipal use agreement’s capital expense provision, offering to reduce North Branford’s share of the project financing. The new arrangement would net out grants/outside funds raised, dropping North Branford’s share of the project cost from $1.8 million to approximately $1.4 million over 15 years. The Town Council begins considering options, which could include going to another town for municipal animal shelter services; the council asks the town attorney to contact Branford representation with some suggestions to Branford’s proposed revision the municipal use agreement and capital expense provision offer, after which the council an expects to continue its discussion on the matter.

With phase one demolition underway to remove a portion of the 1970s-era, two-story building addition, NBHS will start the 2021-’22 school year with 90 percent of the school building in operation and ready for students to return on Sept. 1. Following abatement, current demolition work continues to remove and clear away 10 percent of the building that has been demolished at the back of the school, together with 25 percent of the overhead bridge that once connected NBHS to the North Branford Auditorium and North Branford Intermediate School (NBIS). A total of 13 classrooms have been removed as part of the phase one demolition work. Any remaining connections to the standing NBHS school building will be sealed up at all points.

At its July caucus for the Nov. 2 municipal election slate, North Branford’s GOP endorses Town Council incumbents Rose Marie Angeloni, Walter Goad, Ronald Pelliccia, and Thomas Zampano and new candidates Jeffrey Macmillen and Michael Downes. The GOP endorses BOE candidates Zac Canada, Shawna Papa-Holzer, and Beth Sienna.

At its July caucus for the Nov. 2 municipal election, North Branford Democrats endorse Town Council incumbent Marie Diamond and new candidates Bruce Abelson and Vincent J. Mase. The Democrats endorse BOE candidate Marcey Onofrio.

Four current Town Council members announce they will not run for re-election Nov. 2, including Mayor Viglione (R) and Mike Doody (R), Joe Faughnan (D), and Tara Downes (D).

August

NBPS school opening highlights are outlined in a letter issued to district families Aug. 6 from the NBPS District COVID-19 Task Force. NBPS will start the school year Sept. 1 with full in-person learning, no option for voluntary remote learning, and face masks required in all school buildings and on buses, regardless of vaccination status.

With no other candidates petitioning to be on the ballot by the Aug. 11 deadline, there will be exactly nine candidates—six Republicans and three Democrats—running for the nine open Town Council seats on Nov 2, meaning the 2021-’23 council will continue its current make-up of a GOP majority and Democratic minority after Election Day. The BOE race will also be uncontested, with three GOP candidates and one Democrat running for four open seats.

To honor former Town Council member Joanne Wentworth for many years of service, the council votes to name the courtyard at the Stanley T. Williams Community Center in her honor. A sign matching current town sign designs will be funded by the Tourism Fund and displayed in the courtyard.

The PZC approves modifications to a September 2019 plan for construction underway at the former Mill Pond, 1565 Middletown Avenue, to allow the addition of a footbridge across Farm River at the former dam and relocation of covered accessible ramp at principal building.

At its Aug. 19, the PZC notes Panico Designs of Northford has withdrawn its application for a zoning text amendment taking into consideration new state legislature affordable dwelling laws. A public hearing that opened in July and continued to Aug. 19 is canceled and the file is closed.

On Aug. 12, due to virus infection community cases increasing by two- to three times in a matter of two weeks, together with the influx of the Delta variant and the lower-than-expected vaccination rates, ESDHD and its member towns of North Branford, Branford, and East Haven “strongly recommend” wearing facial masks indoors at all public places, regardless of vaccination status.

DOT’s construction of a modern roundabout at Route 1/Route 22 in North Branford, Branford, and Guilford incur area road closures and detours from Aug. 15 to 20.

With school about to begin, NBIS and police are encouraging families to have their grade 6 to 8 students use bus transportation, and for the community to anticipate traffic delays on Route 80/Foxon Road near NBIS, 654 Foxon Road, during arrival and dismissal times. The anticipated issues are due to the Phase 1 demolition/school expansion project underway at neighboring NBHS.

September

Superintendent Schoonmaker says the entire school community feels the positive energy as students, staff, and administrators fill schools on the first day of the new academic year, Sept. 1. The 2021-’22 school year is starting out with the district’s highest number of new students enrolled in the 12 years Schoonmaker has served as schools’ chief. In addition, the town is in the process of building a new, state-of-the-art high school building, with Phase 1 work currently underway at the NBHS campus. Administrative team and teachers’ preparation has pandemic strategies in place and will give students any services needed based on any learning gaps experienced over the past 15-month pandemic period.

The PZC hears a pre-application overview of Belfonti Companies LLC’s The Pines of Northford at 50 Clintonville Road, on a six-acre parcel. The development involves five, three-story residential buildings for 60, one-bedroom and 60, two-bedroom homes, with 191 parking spaces. Monthly rentals are estimated between $1,850 and $2,800.

Connecticut’s Appellate Court directs the PZC to approve a site plan application for a 60,000-gallon bulk propane facility at 40 Ciro Road denied by the PZC in 2017. The court sides with plaintiff and site plan applicant, 2772 BPR LLC, an entity formed by J.J. Sullivan Inc. of Guilford, in overturning a 2018 Superior Court denial of the plaintiff’s appeal. A legal representative for the plaintiff declines comment on the matter, while Town Manager Michael Paulhus says North Branford has entered a 20-day extension period to determine next steps, and the court has scheduled an Oct. 19 status conference with both parties. In a statement prepared on behalf of Town, Paulhus notes, “The town believes that even when something is permitted as of right, a zoning commission should have the ability to balance all concerns, on-site and off-site, to protect the public health, safety and welfare, and to maintain a harmonious balance in land use.” The deadline to file a petition for certification with the Connecticut Supreme Court, should the town decide to do so, is Oct. 25. The petition would request the Supreme Court review the lower court decision.

News from the Sept. 13 Economic Development Commission (EDC) meeting includes an update on the long-vacant, former IGA store in Central Plaza, Foxon Road, which has been rented and will be renovated to open as a liquor store warehouse with a planned opening in early 2022.

On Sept. 16, supporters break ground for the renovation and expansion of the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter in Branford. In addition to serving Branford, the shelter serves the Town of North Branford through a municipal use agreement that began in 2005. The Town Council continues reviewing an agreement with Branford that involves paying one-third of net operational costs and capital improvements financing, most recently receiving an update from Branford First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove and Shelter Director Laura Burban at the Sept. 8 Town Council meeting.

Police commissioners and Chief Halloran congratulate new hire Officer Nicole Bernstein, selected from a pool of 150 applicants. Monday, Sept. 20 is the first day in her NBPD policing career. Halloran said she is the third female officer added to the NBPD officer roster since it began as a full-time police department in 1970. NPBD now has two female officers, including Officer Kristen Fitzgerald, among 23 sworn officers. Bernstein fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Lieutenant Cort Sperry.

The confirmation of the hiring of a new planning and Zoning administrator/town planner was discussed by the Town Council in executive session on Sept. 21.

After hitting pause on plans to locate the new police station at 305 Forest Road, the council votes to fund an evaluation of two alternate locations: open space at the Augur property (298 Forest Road) or redeveloping a town-owned parcel at 1599 Foxon Road/Route 80. The council unanimously approves appropriating $16,700 from funds allocated for the new police facility for the evaluation. The study will orient the current design for the 15,000 square-foot facility to best fit each site.

October

A new town planner and zoning administrator, Eric Knapp, is hired by the town.

An update on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provision for pandemic response and rebuilding is provided by Town Manager Paulhus to the Town Council. The total ARPA allocation for North Branford is $4,186,516.99 Of that, $2,093,258.49 has been received and the second tranche of $2,093,258.50 will be received in June of 2022. All ARPA funds must be obligated by Dec. 31, 2024.

When raising awareness and funds supporting research for treatment and a cure for Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), North Branford siblings Alex and Sam Bode are experts. Last year, when COVID curbed the family’s annual FA fundraising gala, they pivoted to present Al & Sam’s Drive Up & Drive Out FA Bike Ride on the street beside their North Street home along Route 80. This year, they organize the North Street Fair to Cure FA Oct. 2.

On Oct. 5, NBPD and NBFD respond to a 6:22 p.m. report of a two-vehicle accident, an apparent head-on collision, on Route 139 near Valley Road. A 56-year-old East Haven resident, extricated from a vehicle at the scene, later succumbs to her injuries at the hospital.

A person found dead near a North Branford roadside early on Oct. 16 is believed to have been the victim of a hit and run accident. Police ask for the public’s assistance with information that could lead to locating the evading vehicle. The deceased was located early in the morning after units responded to a 911 call for an unknown medical incident in front of 27 Branford Road/Route 139. It is the second motor vehicle accident fatality in the area within two weeks’ time.

On Oct. 19, Mayor Viglione and outgoing council members Doody, Faughnan, and Downes are recognized and thanked by their fellow council members, on behalf of the town, for their service.

In an interview with The Sound, outgoing Mayor Bob Viglione talks about his decision not to run for a 2021-’23 term so he can focus on assisting his family, while also saying he doesn’t rule out running for elective office again in the future. During his 2019-’21 term, Viglione said he felt he was successful in his efforts to foster the spirit of bipartisan collaboration among the Town Council.

On Oct. 20, NBPD shares that North Branford resident Douglas Clark, 52, was the pedestrian struck and killed during a hit and run accident Oct. 16. Police continue to seek the public’s assistance in locating the vehicle which struck Clark.

The PZC extends its moratorium on cannabis businesses in town for another year, by unanimously supporting a new 12-month period for a zoning regulation text amendment first established in 2020. The extension gives the PZC additional time to review whether sales should be allowed in the future. The update goes into effect Oct. 21, 2021. During the 12-month period, the PZC will not accept permit applications for cannabis establishments, medical marijuana producers, dispensary facilities and/or retail/distribution.

On Oct. 22, police seize and secure a vehicle in Killingworth with damage consistent to that resulting from an Oct. 16 fatal hit and run accident on Route 139; the vehicle will be processed for evidence.

Organizers of the 32nd annual NBPS Community Round-Up on also promote Gift-ober, a month-long effort to collect donations of supermarket gift cards or cash gift cards for Food Pantry of North Branford (FPNB). The Oct. 23 round-up effort collects 4,234 pounds of food.

An Oct. 23, Crafters Care Fall Edition at Doody’s Inn benefits FPNB, the second such event organized by Northford resident Kim Mucha to assist her community, and her community of crafters, in overcoming pandemic setbacks. FPNB fair volunteers collect 1,690 pounds of donated food.

Nightmare in North Branford, an outdoor haunted trail, arrives Oct. 23 at Totoket Valley Park. Developed by volunteer organizer/resident Mary-Elissa Giovanni with North Branford Parks & Recreation and volunteers, the inaugural event proves to be popular.

North Branford asks the state’s Supreme Court to review the Appellate Court’s September 2021 overturn of a 2018 Superior Court decision upholding PZC’s denial of a 60,000-gallon bulk propane facility at 40 Ciro Road. The Oct. 25 filing asks whether the Appellate Court improperly concluded the PZC could not deny the site plan application, as the record shows the commission properly included a site-specific concern among reasons for denying the application.

Donning hardhats, leadership teams of the new NBHS building project ceremoniously break ground at the construction site Oct. 28.

Work is completed on schedule at the new modern roundabout at Route 1/Route 22 at the town lines of North Branford, Branford, and Guilford. The DOT project started work in August 2020.

November

Town Clerk Lisa Valenti certifies voting Election Day turnout totals 20.68 percent, with 1996 of the town’s 9,653 registered voters coming to the polls on Nov. 2.

In the town’s uncontested Town Council race on Election Day, Jeffrey MacMillen (R) and Thomas Zampano (R) are elected mayor and deputy mayor, respectively, due to receiving the first and second-highest number of overall votes. The uncontested Town Council race also continues North Branford’s GOP majority of six members and Democratic minority of three members for another two-year term. Additional GOP members are Rose Marie Angeloni, Walter Goad, Ronald Pelliccia, and Michael Downes. Democrats are Bruce Abelson, Marie Diamond, and Vincent J. Mase.

The Nov. 2 uncontested race for four open BOE seats elects GOP members Shawna Papa Holzer, Zac Canada, and Elizabeth Siena and Democrat Marcey Onofrio.

In an interview with The Sound, North Branford’s newly elected mayor Macmillen says he hadn’t anticipated becoming mayor and is “humbled and honored” to lead. The former BOE member made his first run for a Town Council seat in the Nov. 2 election.

Responding to concerns of residents statewide alarmed by juvenile crime, especially theft of motor vehicle incidents, North Branford’s state representative Vincent Candelora (R-86), joins with representatives of North Haven and Wallingford/Cheshire to hold a Juvenile Justice Forum in North Haven.

A November food drive hosted by NBPD and NBFD brings in more than 1600 pounds of Thanksgiving items and almost $1,000 to help FPNB assist families in need for the holiday.

On Nov. 9, members of the 2021-23 Town Council are sworn in during an organizational meeting.

NBFD Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Robert Colangelo is recognized with a town-wide proclamation and awarded the NBFD medal for bravery in the line of duty for heroic actions to rescue a victim of a fire in the Northford section of town Nov. 30, 2019. The Town Council, NBFD leadership, fire commission, and a representative of the resident’s family share in recognizing Colangelo on Nov. 16.

At the Nov. 16 Town Council meeting, the PPBC shares the recommendation, based on the recent evaluation process approved by the council, that the new police facility be constructed at 1599 Foxon Road vs. a proposed new site on the Augur property (298 Forest Road). Both sites were considered as potential alternatives to the currently property at 305 Forest Road, which is being reconsidered due to cost factors. Some council members discuss some disappointment with not having the Augur Property determined as the best site for the new facility. The matter will be further reviewed Nov. 30 at special Town Council workshop with the PPBC, police commission, the project architect Silver + Petrucelli, and project engineering firm Criscuolo Engineer.

Based on awaiting information, the Town Council continues to table discussion of a proposed inner-municipal animal control agreement with the Town of Branford’s Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter, with the intent to discuss the matter during meetings in December.

At its Nov. 18 organizational meeting, the BOE elects Chair Shawna Holzer, Vice Chair Marcey Onofrio, and Secretary Elizabeth Siena for another term.

North Branford Land Conservation Trust (NBLCT) announces new public walking trails will be carved into 27 acres of NBLCT land in Northford, with two short entry spurs including the eastern side of the Northford Ice Pavilion and an existing entrance off Village Street, as a collaboration of NBLCT with Honeywell, Northford Ice Pavillion, The Pines of North Branford and Belfonti Companies. In addition to volunteer hours, Honeywell also contributes $15,000 to help fund the effort and will offer public parking for trail use.

Following a special workshop on Nov. 30, while no clear decision is rendered regarding selecting 1599 Foxon Road, 289 Forest Road or 305 Forest Road for the new police facility, the Town Council determines that a vote on the matter will take place at its regular meeting on Dec. 7.

December

On Dec. 3, the annual Town Tree Lighting at the Augur property returns as an in-person gathering, after being held last year as a drive-through event due to the pandemic. It’s organized by North Branford Parks & Recreation and co-sponsored by North Branford Rotary Club.

By unanimous vote, the Town Council determines North Branford’s new police facility will be built at its originally approved location, 305 Forest Road/Route 22.

Due to recent state senate representation redistricting, the Town Council approves North Branford’s new third voting district, with those voters to be newly represented by Senate District 34 beginning with the 2022 elections. The majority of homes impacted lie in Northford along Totoket Road, while a smaller number are in North Branford along Forest Road.

North Branford’s historic Augur House has transitioned to become a new home base for the district’s school-to-work program. On Dec. 20, NBPS Superintendent Schoonmaker welcomes representatives from the BOE, Town Council, departments including NBPS maintenance and North Branford Public Works, NBPS team members, community supporters, students, family, and friends to the opening day at the Forest Road building.

As the year came to a close, North Branford was among the majority of Connecticut municipalities listed in the red zone for COVID cases as the state encountered its highest-yet rate of positive tests since the start of the pandemic.

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