January 18, 2022

Chester Selectmen to Discuss Proposed Aaron Manor Town Plan Revisions

CHESTER— After a Nov. 20 town meeting that resulted in no votes, the board of selectmen will discuss the revisions to the town plan of conservation and development requested by the Aaron Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at its next meeting on Dec. 3.

The requested revisions to the 2009 plan, which would give the nursing facility the option of connecting to the municipal sewer system, were the subject of a town meeting last week. First Selectman Edmund Meehan said the resolution for the town meeting did not call for a vote, and there were no attempts by residents at the meeting to move the issue to a vote. Meehan said about 25 residents turned out to spend about an hour discussing the requested revisions, with some residents contending the revisions would open the door to unwanted development along Route 148 while others said the town should give the tax-paying facility the option of connecting to the system if necessary.

Aaron Manor, located off Route 148 at the Route 9 Exit 6 interchange, has been under order from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to upgrade and replace the septic system serving the facility. Aaron Manor requested the revisions to the town plan after the inland-wetlands commission earlier this year asked facility representatives to explore the option of connecting to the sewer system that serves the downtown village before pursuing a permit application for a new and more elaborate on site system. Both options, a new on-site system or connecting to the municipal system, are costly and no decisions have been made on which option Aaron Manor should pursue.

The planning and zoning commission, which must approve any revisions to the town plan, opened a public hearing on the issue in September, but later accepted Meehan’s contention that a town meeting discussion should precede any formal public hearing before the commission. The panel agreed to open a new formal public hearing on Dec. 12, after the town meeting.

Meehan, a former longtime town planner for Newington, said last week he would offer his own suggestions on the proposed revisions when the board of selectmen discuss the issue on Dec. 3. Meehan said he would urge the planning and zoning commission to “keep our options open,” by approving the revisions.

Meehan noted the municipal system, which was expanded in 2008 and sends wastewater to the treatment plant on Winter Avenue in Deep River, has the capacity to accommodate some further expansion. He noted that if Aaron Manor were to pursue a connection along Route 148 at no cost to the town, the planning and zoning commission would always have the authority to limit development and density for properties along the expanded sewer line.

Any recommendations developed by the full board of selectmen at the Dec. 3 meeting would be presented to the planning and zoning commission at the Dec. 12 public hearing, along with a record of the Nov. 20 town meeting discussion.