Hearing on proposed admissions building on Choate campus postponed

WALLINGFORD — A public hearing before the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission on Choate Rosemary Hall's application for a new admissions building was postponed Wednesday at Choate’s request.

"We had hoped to receive the Environmental Planners Report at a time substantially in advance of the IWWC meeting so that, if needed, we could meet with her to discuss any ‘open’ issues or proposed conditions of approval prior to the IWWC meeting," Choate Chief Communications Officer Alison Cady said Thursday. “As of 2:00 p.m. (Wednesday), we had not received that report. And, we still have not received it, and therefore have not had time to review it.

"Without a complete evaluation from the environmental planner, we felt compelled to ask for a continuance to the next meeting," Cady said.

With Wednesday's postponement, the hearing is now scheduled for Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall Council Chambers.

The public hearing on the application, which normally would not require a hearing, was prompted by a petition signed by residents.

But as soon as the item at the top of the agenda came up, commission Chairman James Vitali squashed the expectations of those attending the meeting to speak on the item when he said it would be postponed for another month. 

"They have requested that it be postponed until next month and we are honoring that request," Vitali said. "That will be next month's meeting."

The current application for the variance that would allow the school to build the new building at the intersection of Christian and North Elm streets is the second that has come before the commission. In September, the commission denied the variance for the building that will be, as school officials describe, the gateway to the campus and the first stop prospective students will make when visiting the school.

Currently admission offices are in another office building that houses several different uses. The admissions department has outgrown that space, school officials say, which led to plans for the new building.

According to the town's regulations, residents can submit a petition with at least 25 signatures within two weeks of a variance application filing to trigger a public hearing, Environmental & Natural Resources Planner Erin O'Hare said at the commission's December meeting. This petition was filed within those parameters, so the commission scheduled the public hearing for Jan. 4. 

Both Vitali and commission Vice Chairman Deborah Phillips have recused themselves from participating in the application, Vitali because he and his wife own Tunxis-Ohr's Fuel and Oil in Meriden, of which Choate is a customer, and Phillips because she owns property near the Choate site where the building is planned.



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