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Central Connections gets OK to expand event center

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    Posted: Sep 14 2015 at 8:52am
Link to J-N article.
Quote Central Connections gets OK to expand event center operations

By Ed Richter

Staff Writer

About 30 people showed up at Wednesday’s Middletown Planning Commission meeting with concerns about a proposal by the local senior center to operate a conference and event center in addition to its community/recreation operations.

City Planner Marty Kohler said about 10 residents spoke at the meeting raising concerns about noise levels as well as the sale and consumption of alcohol for events at the Middletown Area Senior Citizens Center, now known as Central Connections, 3907 Central Ave.

Kohler said the center was seeking a use adjustment request to enable it to obtain a state liquor permit to serve alcohol until 2 a.m. for special events such as birthday and anniversary parties, wedding receptions, class reunions, dinner theater events, among others. The change would help attract additional membership and program attendance as well as generate additional revenues from liquor sales and building rentals, officials said.

Ann Munafo, the center’s executive director, wrote in the use adjustment request application that “alcohol will only be served for special events not on a daily basis.”

In a letter to the Planning Commission, several residents objected to the proposal, saying that it would not be necessary as the population demographics are expected to increase for people age 50 and older from 2015 through 2030. Some of the other objections were that voters did not approve the senior levy to support liquor sales at the facility; that liquor sales may have an adverse effect on active membership and activities at the center; the proximity of the facility to Highview Elementary School; noise from bands playing until late in the evening, disrupting sleeping residents; and other health and safety concerns.

Kohler said the commission approved the request with conditions that include no alcohol sales after 11 p.m. and events must be over by midnight.

The planning commission also:
•Approved a right of way dedication plat for a portion of Lewis Street that converted a city-owned parcel into a public right-of-way.
•Approved a final development plan for Renaissance I that included a general plan for the commercial portion of the property and constructing a permanent brick gateway structure.
•Confirmed its Aug. 12 decision approving a conditional use permit for the construction of three group care homes for seven or more occupants in the 4800 and 4900 blocks of Hendrickson Road.

This is a smart move on the Sr. Center's part. With the Manchester shut down for the last several years, there has been definite lack of decent event hosting space in town for things like class reunions for groups bigger than 25-30 people. I understand some of the concerns brought forward by the residents but I don't think I necessarily agree with most of them, and with the limitations put in by the planning commission of having to have events over by midnight I think it would satisfy most of those concerns.
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