Second Norwich Business Park Plan proposal submitted
Concept layout of the Business Master Plan District for the proposed Business Park North in the Occum section of Norwich. (Image courtesy of Henry Resnikoff of RFP, Inc.)
Norwich ― A proposed plan for a second business park on former farmland in Occum is taking shape, with a rezoning application submitted to Council to create a corporate masterplan district for the 384-acre site .
The Norwich Community Development Corp. has a $3.55 million purchase agreement for the 17 parcels which include the former Tarryk and Dolittle farms on land abutting Interstate 395, Canterbury Turnpike, Lawler Lane, Scotland Road and Route 97 in Occum.
Norwich officials had included $17million in a larger regional federal grant application that would have been used to buy the land and develop the park, but the region learned in early September that it had not received the federal grant .
NCDC President Kevin Brown said that means the city will revert to its original plan of seeking funding in stages, “cutting back, like we would have done in the first place,” before the grant opportunity federal government shows up, to develop the park. Applying for the zone change to create the Business Master Plan District is the next step, Brown said.
The plan, called Business Park North, will be presented to City Council, which serves as the city’s zoning board, on October 17. Council will submit it to the City Plan Commission at its October 25 meeting before council. – the zoning council organizes a public hearing.
The NCDC call option expires on December 31. NCDC board discussions about potential funding for the purchase took place in executive session, but Brown remains hopeful the plan is on track.
“We believe we are on the way to a solution that will allow us to close by the end of the year,” Brown said of the property purchase.
The 17 plots were compiled by current owners M&A Holdings LLC and Byron Brook Country Club LLC for a failed golf resort and residential development project in the early 2000s. The plots are now zoned for a planned development district or general business development.
The master plan proposal submitted last week shows the property divided into potential development plots with a dozen mostly square or rectangular concept buildings ranging in size from 9,000 square feet to 500,000 square feet, some labeled as “flexible building” .
The plan calls for the reconstruction of Route 97 Exit 18 to create a designated ramp to serve as the main entrance to the business park. The ramp design mirrors the new ramp at Junction 74 in East Lyme.
“The current business park serving the city has virtually no land available to provide opportunities for new businesses,” the plan’s statement of intent reads. “The creation of a new business park will enable Norwich to attract businesses within the uses set out in the BMPD which will in turn generate employment opportunities, generate property and property taxes and service income services through the expansion of electricity and gas service to the business park. .”
The Business Park North plan has been in the works for several years, with Norwich Public Utilities funding $575,000 in initial development costs, including option to purchase costs. The Business Master Plan District was created by the city council in 2021 in anticipation of the proposed new business park. The district serves as a floating area that could be applied to large areas of the city proposed for major development.
The city’s Wetlands and Streams Commission approved the plan.
Submission to the City Council’s zoning board meant that Mayor Peter Nystrom, Alderman Stacy Gould and Alderman Swaranjit Singh Khalsa had to step down from discussions as NCDC board members. City manager John Salomone and Norwich Public Utilities chief executive Chris LaRose also sit on the NCDC board.
The redesigned Exit 18 ramp would include a new traffic light on Route 97 and two new roundabouts for freight trucks, one on the new Business Park Road and the other at the junction of the road with Canterbury Turnpike which “protects local traffic on Canterbury Turnpike”, the plan states.
Henry Resnikoff, a property consultant working with the NCDC to design the plan for the business park, told the NCDC board on September 22 that environmental studies and an archaeological survey of the property had been carried out, with no significant results. Resnikoff said a small area remains under archaeological examination.
Brown told the board that he was in contact with the state Department of Economic and Community Development, which supports the project.
“Getting to the final state of titled and licensed land makes it much easier to market the property, to say it’s ready to go,” Brown said.