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Letter to the Editor: Canton Land Trust – no deal on Satan’s Kingdom

Some Canton residents have come under the impression that the Canton Land Conservation Trust (CLCT) “made a deal” and agreed to accept land if the Satan’s Kingdom zoning change were granted. Such an impression is not accurate. In order to set the record straight, the CLCT co-presidents have posted a special statement on the CLCT website, www.cantonlandtrust.org, the full text of which is as follows:

… Continue Reading

Letter to the Editor: Canton Looking To Sponsor Families In Need For the Holidays

Residents of Canton: it is that time of year again; a time of caring, and giving. Canton Social Services is looking for families in need who wish to be sponsored for this year’s holiday giving program. This program is a way to help families enjoy all traditions of the holiday season, regardless of religious affiliation. Sponsoring organizations of the past have included local churches, businesses, individuals and families, as well as community organizations that help with presents and gift cards for those in need.   … Continue Reading

Letter to the Editor: Canton LWV President Urges Support for Broader Voting Options

September 28, 2014 Opinion, Reader Contributed No Comments

Logo - traditional, with TMTo the Editor:

Connecticut voters will decide Nov. 4 whether to give the legislature the authority to broaden voting options. The League of Women Voters urges you to answer “Yes” to this ballot question, which asks:

Shall the constitution be amended to remove restrictions concerning absentee ballots and to permit a person to vote without appearing at a polling place on the day of an election?

Connecticut is one of only 14 states without voting flexibility. The state constitution requires voters to cast their ballots only on Election Day, and that absentee ballots be used only in very limited circumstances such as disability or absence from town.

Details about the ballot question are on the Connecticut League’s website.

Passing this amendment will allow legislators, with public input, to begin considering how to make voting more accessible to all qualified voters. Thatis what democracy is about.

Jane Latus

President, Canton League of Women Voters

Letter to the Editor: Saving Satan’s Kingdom

A public hearing is scheduled in Canton on Wednesday, Sept. 17, regarding the proposed Satan’s Kingdom zone change from residential to industrial. The new property owner, Allan Borghesi, states that if successful in his application for the zone change, he plans to build a six building industrial park in Canton abutting the two building one that he has had approved in New Hartford.

Stopping or not stopping this change should not affect whether or not the ridge between the river and route 44 comes down. The developer has stated that he would need to grade the ridge down to a height of 20′ to develop for either zone. That is another matter to be decided later by the planning and zoning commission.

Allowing the zone change will move development farther away from the river, with the first building beginning a distance of 400+ feet away. If the zone change to industrial is passed, there will be an 8 acre undeveloped conservation easement between the buildings and the river which is not the case if it is kept residential. The conservation area has been included as part of the Industrial Park application, but it’s zone will remain residential in any case. The developer has said he would donate this area outright to a land conservation organization if this was preferred over the easement. Including the abutting area of New Hartford there would be a 12.5 acre untouched conservation area which would be protected forever from being developed. It would include a large section of ‘Wild and Scenic’ river frontage. Under the stewardship of a land trust this area would remain in it’s natural state. Much of the wildlife that has been seen there-bobcats, foxes, bears, eagles, deer and others-could continue to exist. Canton’s industrial buildings would not be seen from the river because of this buffer.

If it is defeated, and the land remains residential, that easement will no longer be in place since the conservation easement is a part of the Industrial zone application only. There will be residences built there instead, built much closer to the river. Houses are even less protective of the river. Owners will not have the restrictions of industrial buildings and may use legal fertilizers and pesticides that will go directly to the water. Environment for existing wildlife would be removed for housing. It will be a housing development.

Building a 1 acre residential sub-division will make our population grow, not resulting in our town retaining its rural character. With industrial buildings the town can add restrictions making landscaping to block their visibility mandatory, preserving some of that rural feel.

The property is bought and is going to be developed one way or another unless it can be purchased outright by a large organization, pursuing state or federal grants for preserving land, or some other means.

Stopping the zone change will allow housing there. It will not protect Satan’s kingdom. It will not protect either the river or wildlife. It will allow houses to be built closer to the river and take away an easement which would keep a 12 plus acre area untouched. Is that a win?

Look at the papers in the past few weeks. Note all the fighting to prevent loss of all our natural land to development-Rentschler Field, ‘The Preserve’ in Old Saybrook among others. What are we doing? Responsible development does not mean developing in places of beauty and taking away environments important to our native wildlife.

That’s just wrong.

Lynn Hunter

Mohawk Drive


Capitol Connection: Stitching Together a Community 

September 11, 2014 Opinion, Reader Contributed No Comments

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos 
The best way to grow a community is to connect communities. 
That’s the concept that has shaped Hartford’s vibrant urban design plan – the iQuilt plan. 
Hartford’s design strategy takes a few lessons from what has worked to grow suburban neighborhoods and applies these ideas in urban spaces. The program “stitches” together neighborhoods and cultural centers with pedestrian walkways, green spaces and plazas – all in an effort to make our capital city a bigger and better cultural and economic hub for Connecticut. 
In suburban communities, people unite in shared public spaces like parks, trails, and shopping plazas. While we may see our neighbors driving around, we don’t connect with people from the driver’s seat. We need to walk around to meet, interact and establish a community with our neighbors. This concept applies to city life too. 
iQuilt connects key destinations, including museums, parks, public art, modern architecture and historic landmarks, through walkways and bikeways – making these areas more accessible. Right now, private investments along with state and federal grants have helped the project grow. But ultimately, the goal is to rely on downtown property owners along the pathways to remake their own spaces to fit the iQuilt vision, and find ways to fund their own improvements. The program also emphasizes the importance of public-private partnerships that can maintain spaces in the long-term. 
To me, this program makes a whole lot of sense; it promotes sustainable growth, enhances community development, and encourages families across our state to check out the many treasures in our capital city. However, the key to success is making sure all these projects can eventually stand on their own, without state support. Yes, a joint effort is needed to get the program off the ground. But over time, the state has to be able to step away and allow the program to thrive independently. We need to get more businesses involved like Phoenix, the downtown company that has already completed updating their plaza as the first private property piece of Hartford’s iQuilt Plan. Phoenix will maintain this green space as a positive new pedestrian friendly area, enhancing a corner of the city for everyone. 
The iQuilt program idea began to take shape in 2008. Over the past few years, many public and private partners and supporters have worked together to enhance and increase safe pedestrian walkways and promote many destination locations throughout the city.  Events like Winterfest and Envisionfest have also developed as new ways for people to explore and get to know Hartford for the beautiful and diverse place it truly is. These event teams work to bring unique activities to the city during special events like the Connecticut Cycling Festival coming to downtown HartfordSeptember 20-21. At the Cycling Festival, EnvisionFest plans to hold activities in Bushnell Park and along the Greenwalk during to encourage bicyclists to continue exploring the city, on and off their bikes. 
When you look around our state right now, you can tell that our economy is hurting, and that includes the economy of our cities. Programs like iQuilt, which create sustainable value and foster pride in one’s own neighborhood, are essential to attracting people to the area, energizing neighborhoods, bringing in business, and building a stronger economy. Hartford has a compact downtown, and it’s time to make every inch of it walkable and enjoyable. 
Sen. Witkos represents the 8th District towns of Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington. He is available on Twitter @SenatorWitkos and on www.Facebook.com/senatorwitkos.

Letter to the Editor: A Chance for Better Values in the 8th District

September 11, 2014 Opinion, Reader Contributed No Comments

The 8th Senate District has an excellent opportunity to support a humane and highly capable woman for state senator, Melissa Osborne. I strongly support her candidacy because I am deeply concerned about the values that are reflected in the votes of our current State Senator, Kevin Witkos.

I am frankly shocked that Kevin Witkos voted against providing emergency contraceptive options to rape victims, and that he voted against the ban on machine guns for children under 16. I am shocked that he voted against the minimum wage increases that would help working families. I am also shocked that he would propose elimination of all sales tax on beer during the holidays since he owns a pub in Collinsville. Surely this is a conflict of interest. As I consider the well-being of women, children, working-class people, families, and seniors, I believe that family lawyer Melissa Osborne would better represent the values of the population in the 8th Senate District than Kevin Witkos.

Judi Friedman 

101 Lawton Rd.,

Canton, CT, 06019 

Capitol Connection: Making Connecticut Affordable for Everyone

Kevin Witkos

Kevin Witkos

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

This past Labor Day gave us all an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the history and value of the American worker. Labor Day is also a holiday during which a lot of political rhetoric about employment and wages emerges. And unfortunately, many of the claims I heard over the weekend here in Connecticut miss the bigger labor issues at play.

For example, I read one op-ed this week from Representative Peter Tercyak, the chair of the legislature’s Labor Committee, which I saw as particularly out of touch.

His article, published by the CT Mirror, touted his support for a bill that would fine large companies and franchises if they do not pay their employees at least 130 percent of the minimum wage. He also argued that Connecticut’s new minimum wage of $10.10 per hour still wasn’t good enough – despite it being one of the highest wage increases in the entire country. He cited a new report by the Alliance for a Just Society which claims that a living wage for a single adult in Connecticut is about $19 an hour, and that jumps to $29 an hour for a single parent with a school-age child.

That logic, and those numbers, scare me. And they should scare you too.

I strongly support making Connecticut a more affordable place to live, work and raise a family. I think our families face too many burdens that make it extremely difficult to afford everyday expenses. But I can tell you that forcing employers to raise the minimum wage right now is not the way to help. And fining them for refusing to pay more than the minimum wage sends the wrong message. I can also tell you that a $19-$29 minimum wage will without a doubt force countless businesses to close up shop, hurting the workers they employ.

Sure, it would be great to have a $100 an hour minimum wage if we could. But how can we expect employers, who are struggling to maintain – let alone grow – their businesses, pay for yet another huge increase? If wages go up, something else has got to give to keep businesses afloat. Some businesses may have to cut jobs so they can afford to pay their staff. Some may increase prices on their goods and services so they can stay in business. That means more issues for all families across the state.

The real way to help make Connecticut more affordable is to eliminate the burdens on families and create an environment where jobs can flourish.

Connecticut is currently ranked #1 in annual tax burden by the Tax Foundation – a problem that drags both families and employers down. If we give businesses the tools they need to grow and thrive, more jobs with higher wages will be created and better opportunities for workers will develop in a sustainable manner.

I applaud the people who work hard every day for hourly wages. I spent a lifetime supporting my family on hourly wages and I understand the need for fair pay. But I also understand that employers work hard and deal with many pressures as well.

The best way to help workers is to relieve the burdens that all Connecticut residents face. The reason why that study identified such a high “living wage” of $19 an hour is because of the many high expenses Connecticut families face every day. Instead of slapping a band aid on the problem, we should be working to identify the root cause and improve Connecticut overall.  Strengthening our economy, reducing burdens and lowering taxes paves the path to success, and the path to better opportunities for workers everywhere.

Sen. Witkos represents the 8th District towns of Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington. He is available on Twitter @SenatorWitkos and on www.Facebook.com/senatorwitkos.

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Capitol Connection: Understanding the Difference Between Nonprofit & For-Profit Hospitals

State Sen. Kevin Witkos Submitted photo

State Sen. Kevin Witkos
Submitted photo

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

The healthcare landscape in our country is certainly changing. Hospitals are expanding, health insurance is evolving, and more and more hospitals are seeking paths to leave behind their nonprofit status and instead become for-profit institutions.

In Connecticut especially, the debate over “hospital conversions” is a heated one. And with last week’s announcement that St. Mary’s in Waterbury is yet another hospital planning on making the change, I think it’s important to talk about what these transitions mean for our communities. … Continue Reading


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