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A Danbury man has been charged for hitting a state police cruiser in January.  State police charged 38-year old Brian Glasser yesterday with distracted driving, following too closely, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and assault. 

 

The police cruiser was parked, with emergency lights activated, responding to an earlier accident on Route 7 in Brookfield.  State Police say there was a clear line of sight to the vehicles. 

 

Glasser told troopers he didn't see the cruiser because he was looking for an address on his GPS.  The cruiser was pushed about 70 feet in the collision. 

 

 

 

The Trooper sustained injuries in the crash and was hospitalized.  She remains out of work. 

 

Glasser was released on bond for an August 8th court appearance.

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The Danbury Zoning Commission closed the new public hearing into allowing off track betting as an accessory use in a restaurant.  The group did not take further action on the issue at their meeting.  In May, the Zoning Commission voted 6-3 allowing OTB as an accessory use in a restaurant. 

 

Downtown business owner Andrea Gartner filed a lawsuit seeking to appeal the decision, alleging noncompliance with notification requirements.  Sportech Venues doesn't agree with the allegation, but went back to the Commission to eliminate the issue. 

 

Sportech has exclusive licensing rights in Connecticut and would provide 1.6 percent of gross revenue to City Center. 

 

Sportech plans to renovate Two Steps into a sports bar and restaurant on the first floor, with OTB gaming on the 2nd floor.  The Zoning Commission is not deciding on a site specific proposal, but a city wide change.  The specific location would be subject to City Council approval.

 

Two Steps owner Tom Devine submitted letters of support.  About half a dozen supporters spoke in favor of the zone change while an equal number of opponents raised concerns about the proposal. 

 

Some of the opposition was about the legislature this year expanding the number of allowed OTB facilities.  The state General Assembly approved a bill allowing Sportech to have 8 more off-track betting licenses.  The Danbury location, if approved would be their 17th.  When initial approval was given by Zoning in in May, Sportech was only authorized  to have 18 licenses.

 

City Councilman John Esposito voiced opposition after hearing feedback from constituents.

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Some roadwork in Newtown will be continuing a little longer than expected.  A culvert is being replaced on Hundred Acres Road.  The street will remain closed between Hattertown Road and Phyllis Lane through August 11th.  The culvert replacement work was supposed to wrap up earlier this week.  The detour will be Aunt Park Lane and Mt. Nebo Road.

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Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith was hospitalized this weekend and is being treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital.  The Sheriff's office says Smith went to the Putnam Hospital Center emergency room after falling ill during a fundraising event in Patterson on Saturday.  Smith was admitted to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit on Sunday, and he remains in the ICU.  Smith said that he and his doctors expect him to make a full and complete recovery, adding that he looking forward to being back to work in the near future.  The fundraiser was to benefit the family of recently deceased Sheriff's Senior Investigator Mark Gilmore and for Deputy Sheriff Michael Schmidt, who is battling cancer.

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An 80-year old man has been pulled unconscious from a New Milford swimming pool.  Police say the man was found unresponsive yesterday afternoon and officers responded within minutes.  New Milford Police say the man received medical attention at the home before being transported to the hospital.  Police say the incident appears to be an accident and not suspicious.  There was no immediate update this morning about the man.  

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Some local lawmakers recently took a tour of Candlewood Lake to learn more about what the legislature could do to protect local lakes and natural resources. 

 

Brookfield Representative Steve Harding, a ranking member of the Environment Committee, and Danbury Representative David Arconti were guided by Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Sergeant Gregory Ulkus. 

 

EnCon police are responsible for patrolling the lake. 

 

They talked about the types of issues faced while on patrol.  Most of the work is centered on public safety and ensuring visitors are aware of the laws and regulations while on the water.  Harding says it was very informative to hear about concerns regarding the lake and how the state can help on those matters.

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A fire burning in a mulch pile in Newtown has been smoldering for three days.  Crews from Botsford Fire and Rescue Department have been at the site on Button Shop Road for three days in a road.  Assistance from Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue and their tanker is being provided.  Fire officials say the mulch pile continues to burn on the inside and occasionally reaches the surface and ignites, causing a heavy smoke condition in the area.

 

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New Milford Police as asking for the public's help in identifying a man who used bogus bills at a town grocery store.  Police say the suspect used two counterfeit $100 bills at Aldi's Grocery Store back on July 3rd.  The incident happened around 7pm.  Anyone with information is asked to call New Milford Police at 860-355-3133 or the anonymous TIPS Line at 860-355-2000.

 

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Southbury Police are investigating a vandalism to a park bench and picnic table at Janie Pierce Park. Anyone with information about the responsible party is asked to contact the Southbury Police Department at 203-264-5912. All calls will be keep confidential.

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An overturned tractor trailer caused some headaches for other drivers in Danbury last night.  The truck driver was in the left lane of I-84 westbound between exits 3 and 2 around 8pm, when he crossed into the median and struck a concrete barrier.  The truck overturned, closing two lanes on the westbound side and the left lane eastbound. Traffic was backed up at least two miles in each direction.  The truck wasn't cleared from the scene until about 1:30 this morning.  The driver, 66-year old Edward Bryan of West Virginia, did not sustain any apparent injury.   Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact State Police Troop A at 203-267-2200.

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Informational sessions have been held in Putnam County about a Shared Services Initiative.  The New York state-wide initiative requires county officials to develop localized plans that find property tax savings by coordinating and eliminating duplicative services.

 

Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell says video conference court appearances is a concept that the county has embraced.  She says no one is being denied the right to go before a judge through the concept.  Odell says a defendant can get every right available, without any violation while saving taxpayers the cost of wear and tear on vehicles and personnel cost.

 

Odell says not every defendant wants to take the ride or be paraded in front of the public.  Sometimes they prefer to sit and wait and allow the judicial process to take place behind closed doors.

 

Odell noted that sometimes they are transporting up to 14 defendants to different municipalities, which requires man power and the back filling through overtime.  She says it can be anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 depending on how many and where the transports are going.

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An informational session is being held in Bethel tonight about the proposed renovations to Rockwell and Johnson schools.  There are several items that need to be addressed at each school including that they are not ADA accessible, have roofs at the end of their serviceable lives and lack space for educational programs.  District officials say there are some hazardous materials that need to be remediated, security measures to address and site traffic to reroute.  The meeting will be held in the general purpose room in the Municipal Center at 7pm.

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A local lawmaker introduced an amendment to allow the House Republican budget proposal be brought up for a hearing and a vote.  Southbury Representative Arthur O'Neill, whose district also includes Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington, called it an unprecedented amendment.  But he said the state finds itself in an unprecedented situation as well.  Connecticut is more than three weeks into the fiscal year, with no approved budget plan in place.

 

There is a projected $5 billion deficit over the next two years.

 

O'Neill said the fiscal picture is worse than he's ever seen it.  He means that it is not time for business as usual.  O'Neill said the current budget process has broken down and is not working.

 

The Appropriations Committee failed to vote out a plan before the General Assembly session ended in June.  A planned special session to vote on a proposal at the end of last month was called off.  Legislative leaders also declined to vote on a mini-budget, a three month spending plan, offered by Governor Malloy.

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A joint Bethel Board of Selectman/Board of Finance Meeting will be held tomorrow night about the proposed renovations to Rockwell Elementary and Johnson Middle schools.  The meeting will be held in the general purpose room in the Municipal Center at 7pm tomorrow.

 

While the state is having financial issues, the school construction grant program is not a program that has been proposed to be cut. Under the current guidelines, Bethel would recieve 45% reimbursement for eligible costs on a "renovate as new project". Not all costs are eligible for reimbursement. Approximately 40% of the project is reimbursable.

 

Both schools have problems in heating and cooling, and after renovations the buildings will be climate controlled. Neither building has central AC currently.  The bus loop and parent drop off currently presents a safety concern.  The project design separates the bus and parent drop off. The fill removed from the back of Rockwell will be used to expand the playground area.

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Visitors to state parks this summer may have noticed some changes because of Connecticut's financial woes.  A new campground was closed this summer.  Macedonia Brook State Park campground in Kent joined three others on the closure list from last year. 

 

The Putnam Memorial State Park visitor center in Redding is only open on weekends for the second year in a row. 

 

Lifeguards at Squantz Pond in New Fairfield and other state swim areas are only on duty Thursdays through Sundays, one less day than last year. 

 

There are also reports of more garbage piling up in some facilities.  Unlike New Jersey, Governor Dannel Malloy opted to keep the parks open during the budget shutdown because the parks bring in their own revenue.

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The Russell Neary Memorial Fund, named for an Easton firefighter killed in the line of duty, supported the Connecticut Burn Camp by paying for a camper to attend the week long Camp.  70 campers attending, all children with burn injuries, participated in events supported by over 100 volunteers.  The memorial fund says this was a favorite charity for Russ, who died in October 2012‚ while assisting residents during the height of Hurricane Sandy.

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The Danbury Zoning Commission is considering an amendment clarifying drive-in and drive-thru facilities in a zone along Mill Plain Road.  The amendment would prohibit drive-thrus for facilities that dispense food, beverages, and similar products.  There is an exception for licensed pharmacies dispensing prescriptions.  The amendment does not apply to other uses, like a bank or dry cleaner, providing a service rather than a product.

 

Planning Director Sharon Calitro says food and beverage drive-thrus generate a significant number of traffic trips.  She says increased traffic generation can result in safety and congestion issues.  Public policy has been to prohibit uses with these characteristics in this zone.

 

This particular zone was created in 1984 to restrict development in the Mill Plain area in order to curb traffic congestion and preserve the character of an arterial roadway.  The zone starts just past the Shell station on Lake Avenue, so the McDonald's is not in the zone.  The other end of the zone is at the corner of Mill Ridge Road.  Dutchess is a pre-existing, non-conforming use.

 

In 2013, the Zoning Commission denied a petition allowing a Starbucks with a drive thru.  Calitro says conditions haven't improved since then to the point where changes would be deemed acceptable.  As for economic impact, she says this clarification will not negatively impact it.  She notes that there are many other opportunities for fast food restaurants with drive thru windows.

 

Attorney Neil Marcus was hired by a convenience store which has a petition before the Planning Commission.  The applicant is seeking to have a drive thru window.  Since the application was submitted before the Zoning clarification was proposed, it would be grandfathered in.

 

Much of the public hearing was about debating what is considered fast food.  An argument was made that it's not what an establishment sells, it's how the items are sold.

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The New Milford Zoning Commission is meeting tonight. One of their agenda items is a proposal to install solar panels on Candlewood Mountain.  A subsidiary of Ameresco wants to put up an array of solar panels next to the Candlelight Farms Inn and the airport.  The panels could generate 20 megawatts of power for the New England grid, fed through the Rocky River power station.  Tonight's Zoning Commission meeting is at 7pm in New Milford Town Hall.  The Connecticut Siting Council must also sign off on the proposal.  Some concerns have been voiced by neighbors already, including about tree clearing and glare interfering with air traffic.

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The state House and Senate overturned Governor Dannel Malloy's veto of changes to affordable housing statutes.  Brookfield officials previously said that their zoning board's hands are tied by the regulations. 

 

In his veto message, Malloy said some portion of police, firefighters and teachers should be able to live in every community they work for. Malloy says Brookfield found a way to meet the requirement, Darien and New Canaan have found ways to make progress.

 

The resurrected legislation essentially revamps the nearly 30-year-old law to make it easier for municipalities to reach a threshold of having at least 10 percent of their housing considered affordable, by expanding the unit types that count toward the threshold.

 

During the regular legislative session, the bill garnered wide, bipartisan support.  Proponents argued that "predatory developers" are misusing the law to skirt local zoning authorities in certain communities. They also maintain the vetoed bill would ultimately lead to more affordable housing opportunities once cities and towns have more control over affordable housing projects.

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NEW YORK (AP) - Metro-North Railroad officials say they'll review safety recommendations made by federal investigators after a commuter rail crash that killed six people, including a Danbury man, in a New York City suburb in 2015.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Monday that National Transportation Safety Board investigators have concluded an unusual rail design contributed to the death toll. The official says about 340 feet of electrified rail pierced a Metro-North train after it struck an SUV at a crossing in Valhalla, New York.

The official wasn't authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke to the AP on Monday on the condition of anonymity.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates Metro-North. Spokesman Aaron Donovan says the agency looks forward to the NTSB's findings being presented at the board's meeting Tuesday in Washington.

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