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In March, John Serpu, of The Helping Hand, replaced the chain link fence and "green wall" with a new wooden fence, hiding the remains of Central Hall. | (Michael Souza / The Westerly Sun)

Historic Mystic LLC expected to submit Central Hall plans in February

MYSTIC — Plans are slowly but surely progressing for the return of Central Hall.

By April 8, 2014, the property owner, Historic Mystic LLC, must submit plans to be recorded in the town’s land records, including any easements. At the same time, construction must start.

Initially, the information was to be filed in October 2013. Realizing they could not make this deadline, the owners asked for a one-year extension, asking the date be put off until October 2014. The Groton Planning Commission granted an extension but for only four months, requiring them to record all documentation and start construction by February 2014.

Planning and Development Director Michael J. Murphy doubts construction will start this spring but is pleased with the February submission deadline. “While the commission understands that as per the applicant it is unlikely that construction will be started by then, the commission stressed the need for the applicant to make the plan effective by finalizing the plan and easements as recommended by staff, and recording the plan and the documentation in the land records by then,” Murphy said in an email.

To develop the site, several utility easements needed to be agreed upon, and often, each utility required agreements from several different property owners. Other easements involve coastal features, another time-consuming process. “As late as [Oct. 14] the applicant was still requesting changes to the public access easement,” Murphy said.

The town is willing to accommodate the project, at least to some extent. “Correspondingly, the commission indicated that it would be receptive to granting further extensions to allow construction to begin after (February 2014),” he said. “The commission voiced its support for the project, as well.”

According to Murphy, the planning staff just received the latest plan with revisions but is waiting to receive the hard copy of all easements and agreements from the applicant to adequately review the plan. Two coastal access easements, an architectural easement, a sewer easement, and an access easement for an adjacent property owner need to be provided.

The town attorney has advised that a full package of information is needed to start their final review. Once the easements are filed, a significant hurdle will be cleared.

As proposed, the first floor of the new Central Hall will house six commercial units. The upper three floors will consist of 12 residential two-bedroom units. Parking will be slightly expanded on Gravel Street and a new walkway to a public area along the river will be built. Structurally, all the existing pilings will be replaced.

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