The Planning Commission has completed revisions to the Lyme Plan of Conservation and Development, continuing a vision for Lyme that has remained consistent since the first Plan was prepared in 1964. Responses to a survey mailed to Lyme postal patrons show that Lyme people remain strong in their desire to preserve Lyme’s rural character and natural resources.
The Plan envisions Lyme as a quiet rural community, with scattered homes among wooded hills, and clear streams that flow down to coves and marshes of the Connecticut River. Life has a timeless, unhurried quality. There is an aged, well-worn character to the landscape, with houses and a few commercial and civic uses fitting comfortably on the land. Lyme was once a busier place, with quarrying, lumbering, fishing and farming providing employment for Lyme families, but time has removed all but the traces of such activity. While growth pressure in southeastern and coastal Connecticut has resulted in suburban sprawl and a heightened pace of activity in many nearby towns, Lyme remains quietly “off the beaten path”.
Lyme residents appreciate the town’s unique natural resources. The Connecticut River Estuary and its tributaries are recognized nationally and internationally as a unique natural area. Preservation of these resources can be assured through connected greenways that protect water quality, habitat and visual quality. New development will be compatible with the scale and design of Lyme’s rural New England character.
Lyme residents appreciate their sense of community, but value the privacy that the rural landscape provides. Residents are willing to forego easy access to stores and services and travel farther to employment to come home to the peace that Lyme provides. In-town services will remain limited in size and only in areas where such uses already exist.
Lyme will adjust to the demands and opportunities of modern life. As new technologies create new possibilities, Lyme will adjust its requirements to allow people to work at home or to live in non-traditional family households. Changes will occur as a result of our changing society, but in a way that preserves the quality of life and the natural resources of Lyme.
In the 1990s, southeastern Connecticut’s economy shifted from heavy reliance on defense procurement to significant new activity in tourism and biotechnical research. A new bridge over the Connecticut River reduced traffic congestion on I-95. Commuter train service was established between Old Saybrook and New Haven. Advances in telecommunication and the Internet began to change our lives. After a slump in residential construction in the early 1990s, home building resumed in the area with construction of numerous large houses. Increased development brought concern about loss of open space and new efforts to preserve undeveloped land.
The greatest challenge facing Lyme is the effort to maintain the town’s rural character. This can be accomplished by encouraging volunteer participation in community activities while respecting residents’ desires for privacy, allowing new development at a scale and design which is compatible with the rural landscape, and continuing efforts to increase population diversity by increasing housing opportunities.
Lyme has succeeded in directing past growth in a way that is compatible with the town’s vision. The new Plan recommends that current policies and practices be continued, but that land use regulations be reviewed to see if there are tools that could be used to better guide future development. Up-to-date information on Lyme’s natural and human resources is essential to informed decision-making. Continued emphasis should be given to the successful working relationship with private land owners on open space preservation. Acquisition of permanent open space is a priority, while encouraging traditional community land uses like farming, forestry and agriculture, as well as limiting future non-residential development, encouraging appropriate design and scale for new residential structures, and encouraging population diversity.