Letters to the Editor - 5-30-24

‘Planning’ by Committee

Several weeks ago, a Planning and Zoning Commission member raised the concept of paving the Rail Trail for vehicular use from Library Street to Salmon Kill Road. That idea is not part of any conceptual plan developed by the Pope Land Design Committee (PLDC), nor was it suggested in the Collier’s study. I have been asked quite pointedly why I failed to immediately reprimand that member for his suggestion.

As Chair, I will not censure any member for their ideas. I only intervene on the rare occasion when a member takes us into territory that could create legal problems for the Town.

The continued flow of misinformation and corresponding levels of anxiety in the community, especially within the neighborhoods surrounding the Pope Property, is alarming and completely avoidable. To understand these problems means looking beyond the individual concepts and considering following:

Why was the PLDC established by the Board of Selectmen (BOS) composed of only two groups, housing and recreation? Why does the BOS encourage “planning” by ad hoc committees answerable to the BOS, instead of those elected and appointed by the community to conduct these functions? The PLDC was established without representation/participation from the Planning and Zoning Commission which has the statutory authority to oversee planning in the Town. In addition, the Historic District Commission, Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, and the Conservation Commission all should have had seats at the table. The Land Use Department should have been included, much in the way the Recreation Department was represented by its director.

Apparently the PLDC created concepts based upon a foundation of preconceived ideas concerning both the types of uses and the capacity of the site. Thus far, the PLDC has limited their scope of inquiry only to the site itself, without fully understanding the overall planning context and connections, as well as impacts, to off-site neighborhoods and beyond. They “planned” without knowledge of traffic impacts (i.e., traffic studies) and limits to infrastructural capacity (utilities).

Finally, ceding by lot line adjustment a portion of the site fronting on Salmon Kill Road to the Recreation Department is a mistake. Until a comprehensive plan is developed for the entire site, it is foolhardy to preclude the possibility of different layouts by removing a portion of the property from consideration in the planning process.

Given these deficiencies it is not surprising that abutters and the community as a whole have legitimate concerns and fears. Remember these are concepts, not plans. To get to the next level will involve multiple steps by the PZC, including an 8-24 review and an engaged, structured public process. The most recent example of this was the Transfer Station. When plans were finally presented to the PZC and appropriate consultations with State agencies were initiated, the Transfer Station was relocated and redesigned, followed by a robust public process that spanned four nights of public hearings.

Michael W. Klemens

Lakeville

The author is Chair of the Salisbury Planning and Zoning Commission, but these viewpoints are in his capacity as a private citizen.


A leader for troubled times

Many issues are tearing the fabric of America: high inflation, attacks on our police, unsecured borders, high gas prices, rampant crime, and attacks on America’s allies overseas. George Logan, candidate for U.S. Congress in our district, has staked out common sense positions reflecting American values on all of these issues and will be a reliable voice on our behalf. And he is confronting the most divisive of issues today – antisemitism.

The war against Israel’s existence has given rise to the worst period of antisemitism in my lifetime. On American campuses, in the streets of American cities, and even in the halls of Congress, hatred for Israel and Jews is becoming more commonplace and, in some circles, accepted. I believe that our elected officials have a duty to speak out against this scourge, and to take meaningful action.

George Logan has spoken out at several local events against those espousing violence against the Jewish community, and those calling for the destruction of the State of Israel — the only true democracy in the Middle East and a staunch ally of the United States. And his position is not new. As a Connecticut State Senator, he worked with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven and the Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut. He co-sponsored Senate Bill 452 which mandates the teaching of Holocaust awareness in Connecticut schools, an essential tool to counter those who would deny that 6 million Jews were murdered by Nazis during World War II. He understands the risks posed by the largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, gaining nuclear weapons and has pledged to support Congressional action pressuring Iran’s economy and military until their nuclear program and regional aggression is ended.

George Logan’s opponent in this race, Jahana Hayes, seems to have trouble taking a firm stand. She has made some general statements against antisemitism and violence but has not attended a single event in our community to support the victims of that hate. In fact, she voted with the far-left ‘Squad’ against House Resolution 927 that “condemns the rise of antisemitism on university campuses and the testimony of university presidents in the House Committee on Education and the Workforce” and in November she voted against a military aid package to Israel. On April 5, she signed a letter with Squad members demanding that the U.S. stop selling weapons to Israel. Her actions do not support the American Jewish community or Israel, which is fighting a multi-front war against enemies pledged to eradicate Israel and Jews.

Our community deserves a Congressman who will work to provide common sense solutions to our country’s most pressing problems and who will take an unambiguous, principled stand against antisemitism, terrorism and Jew hatred. That person is George Logan.

Alan Friedman

Salisbury


Ode to a legend

Twenty plus years ago we moved to this exquisite corner of Connecticut and quickly learned about a hometown veterinarian named Dr. Harvey Hayden.

Shortly thereafter, our beloved family cat, Aphrodite, became terminally ill. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing her much less the thought of bringing her outside the home to have her humanely euthanized. I was told, to my surprise, Dr. Hayden made house calls. After not one but two “false alarms” wherein I thought Aphrodite’s time had come — only to have her rally in between the time of my phone call to Dr. Hayden and his arrival at our front door — he casually said “okay then, just call me back when kitty is ready.”

By the third call he just as easily said “Right-o, I’ll be there in a few minutes.” This time there was no rallying on Aphrodite’s part. I held her tenderly in my arms as Dr. Hayden ever so gently and expertly sent her over the Rainbow Bridge. It wasn’t until several minutes later through my aching sobs that I realized Dr. Hayden had quietly slipped out the front door without taking the personal check I had clearly left for him on the coffee table next to us.

Later, after burying our precious Aphrodite in my wildflower garden, I called Dr. Hayden to let him know he forgot to take the check and he only responded by saying, “You just take care of yourself. Bye for now.” Again, I burst into tears…

Additionally, before, during, and after the decade I volunteered my wildlife rehabilitation services to the Sharon Audubon Center and brought countless creatures to Dr. Hayden for examination, treatment, and the occasional humane euthanasia, he never once would allow financial compensation for his services. Among the creatures great and small were hawks, eagles, owls, and even a massive 40-pound snapping turtle whom we nicknamed Big Momma!

During one of these visits he and his late wife Myrtle took turns finishing each other’s sentences telling the story about someone’s feisty pet monkey they treated who snuck out of the basement clinic and swung from branch to branch down Route 4 with the monkey’s owner, Dr. Hayden, and Myrtle all giving chase! When they finally convinced the pet monkey to come back, Myrtle was late for fiddle practice and relayed the unbelievable story of why she was late only to have one of her Country Spice band members ask if she had been drinking?!

There will never be another like Dr. Harvey Hayden. His brilliance, compassion, generosity, hysterical dry wit, and humble nature will live on in the hearts of all — bipeds, quadrupeds, hoofed, fluffy toe-beaned, taloned, terrestrial, airborne — who were fortunate enough to have been touched by this true gentleman. To you and for you, we offer our most sincere gratitude. Sweet dreams our friend, sweet dreams.

Johanna C. Walton

Sharon


Shift in marijuana policy: Implications for state

The Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) recent decision to reschedule marijuana (cannabis) after 50 years as a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III signifies a new era where the federal government now recognizes the plant’s medical benefits. This change, prompted by President Biden’s directive for a review of marijuana’s scheduling, is a result of relentless advocacy by patients, physicians, scientists, and policymakers. For Connecticut, this shift could refine the medical and legal landscape for cannabis, benefiting the state in multiple significant ways.

The reclassification of cannabis to Schedule III acknowledges its medical utility and relatively low potential for abuse. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have outlined the plant’s efficacy in treating certain medical conditions, reinforcing its legitimacy in the medical community. This recognition is crucial for advancing research and acceptance of cannabis as a legitimate treatment option, which could greatly benefit Connecticut’s medical professionals and patients alike.

Under Schedule III, FDA-approved cannabis drugs can be prescribed by physicians and dispensed by DEA-registered entities. However, this does not alter the status of state-run dispensaries or the sale of whole-plant marijuana products, which remain federally illegal unless FDA-approved. It is important for Connecticut residents to understand that while the state may have its cannabis programs, these are not automatically compliant with federal law under the new scheduling.

The federal government, through the policies enacted across various administrations, has shown a trend towards non-enforcement against compliant state marijuana businesses. This is likely to continue, reducing the risk of federal intervention in states like Connecticut that have established marijuana programs. Furthermore, appropriations legislation by Congress currently prevents the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with state medical marijuana programs, although this does not extend to adult-use programs.

The rescheduling is poised to relieve Connecticut’s cannabis businesses from the burdens of Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits deductions of ordinary business expenses. This change could save these businesses significant amounts in taxes, enabling reinvestment and potentially leading to higher wages and job creation within the state. However, Schedule III does not resolve the banking difficulties faced by the cannabis industry, although it may lead to some improvements in how banks interact with cannabis businesses.

While the move to Schedule III is a step forward, it does not equate to full legalization or address the comprehensive legislative changes needed to rectify the racial injustices of past drug policies. Connecticut can use this opportunity to bolster its own cannabis reforms and set a precedent for responsible and inclusive policies. The state can also play a vital role in shaping future national discussions on cannabis, leveraging the new scheduling status to advocate for more comprehensive federal reforms.

As Connecticut embraces these changes, it must remain proactive in refining its cannabis regulations and continue to support the medical community and the patients it serves. This historic shift not only opens new medical and economic doors, but also challenges the state to lead in shaping a sensible, equitable future for cannabis policy.

Sarah A. Chase

Kent

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