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Southington council considers requesting immediate local reopening

Southington council considers requesting immediate local reopening

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SOUTHINGTON – A resolution under consideration by town leaders would request permission for closed or restricted businesses to reopen ahead of Gov. Ned Lamont’s schedule.

Town Council Chairwoman Victoria Triano, a Republican, said some local businesses deemed non-essential by the Democratic governor are “bleeding money” since the beginning of the shutdown. She’s hopeful for bipartisan support for the resolution.

Gov. Lamont, “we’re not challenging your authority, we’re just asking permission for our businesses to open,” Triano said. “I’m hoping he’ll let us do that.”

According to Lamont’s phased reopening schedule, gyms, personal services, outdoor amusement parks, social clubs and indoor dining are set to resume later this month.

Similar action by other area towns

Councilors discussed the possibility of a resolution at the last meeting. Council member William Dziedzic, an attorney and a Republican, said many had misunderstood a resolution passed by Cromwell town leaders. Rather than countermanding the governor’s executive orders, that town’s resolution asked for permission to reopen.

It prompted local residents to ask councilors about doing the same thing in Southington, Dziedzic said. Wallingford also recently passed an ordinance asking for local control of reopening businesses. Two Democrats and one Republican opposed the resolution.

While Dziedzic had hoped for a stronger measure in support of local business owners, he said the resolution was a good compromise that could allow for a unanimous, bipartisan vote on the resolution. The message to the governor will be stronger if council Democrats also support it, he said.

Chris Palmieri, Democratic councilor and minority leader, said he wasn’t yet sure if the three Democrats on the council would support the resolution. He wants to examine the resolution more.

“I fully support our local businesses and I know how important it is and feel it’s critical to put the health and safety of our residents at the forefront,” Palmieri said. 

Late on Friday, Lamont moved the next phase of reopening from June 20 to June 17. With the situation changing hourly, Palmieri questioned the need for the resolution, particularly since many businesses can already operate in a reduced capacity.

“The governor just rolled back more restrictions,” he said. “(The resolution) is basically saying, ‘Is it okay to open if we follow all the regulations you put in place?’ Then why are we writing that?”

‘All business and organizations are essential’

The resolution asks for the governor to allow the reopening of all businesses, organizations and government entities “that are ready and willing to open.”

Anyone reopening would continue to follow state guidelines for masks, distancing and any other requirements, the resolution said.

“We believe that all Southington businesses and organizations are essential for the overall prosperity of our community and economy,” the resolution said.

If it’s passed by the entire council, Triano said she wants her and Democratic minority leader Chris Palmieri’s name on it.

“It takes politics out of it,” she said.

Palmieri’s name was already on a draft of the resolution that was sent to the council members and the public. Palmieri said that surprised him as he hasn’t yet agreed to the letter. Triano said she’d misunderstood Palmieri’s agreement on another issue.

Triano didn’t want a resolution that read like a challenge or a legal brief.

“I want to do one that speaks to the heart of the town,” she said.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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