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Update: Malloy Vetoes Oxford Airport Bill

Town officials, representatives express disappointment.

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 4:40 p.m.

Oxford officials and local lawmakers expressed disappointment Monday over Gov. Dannel Malloy's veto of a bill that would have created an around the Waterbury-Oxford Airport that was intended to create more jobs in the area.

Malloy vetoed the bill and in a one-and-a-half single-spaced letter stated it is "premature to approve an airport development zone that includes area surrounding Oxford Airport and beyond before the Connecticut Airport Authority has the opportunity to properly analyze and consider the implications of such a zone in the context of its larger mission purpose." He also said state reimbursements for lost tax revenue in Oxford, Middlebury and Southbury, and the creation of the Connecticut Airport Authority bill combined with the size of the development zone led to him vetoing the bill. (See the full text of Malloy's veto attached to this story.)

The bill, which was introduced by the Commerce Committee to spur economic development in the airport area, would not only have fostered new business development but in turn also would have added jobs and generated new state and municipal taxes, according to officials who supported the project. The bill also would have expanded tax incentives for businesses in the area of the airport. Malloy also said the tax breaks were "too premature," and noted the state would reimburse the towns affected up to one half of lost tax revenue.

State Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, whose district covers Oxford, submitted a letter to the media criticizing the governor's action.

"How ironic that just as Governor Malloy has embarked on his 'Jobs Tour' of the state, he is effectively killing future Connecticut jobs with one stroke of his pen," Kane stated in the news release.

Kane stated the creation of an Oxford Airport Development Zone was a bipartisan effort until Malloy, a Democrat, knocked it down Monday.

"With this bill, the governor was presented with a golden opportunity to actually match his jobs talk with action," Kane stated in the release. "He could have enabled Oxford Airport to soar to new heights. Instead, this veto marks a failure on his part - a failure to recognize an avenue for economic growth and a failure to listen to the people of Oxford and surrounding towns."

Oxford Economic Development Director Herman Schuler, who was also instrumental in getting the bill passed before the state House and Senate, also said he was "very, very disappointed."

"I thought this thing was going to go and thought it had tremendous potential for the three towns (Waterbury, Middlebury and Oxford) and the issues mentioned in veto that made me worry that we’re coming to a complete stop while we study things once again," Schuler said. "It was halted not because the airport people weren’t ready or the towns weren’t ready, but because the state once again wants to study things some more."

State Rep. Anthony D'Amelio, R-Waterbury, whose district covers Middlebury, said the towns of Oxford and Middlebury, and the entire region, would have benefited from the legislation.

"I understand the Governor’s concerns but we need to invest wisely if we expect to get our economy going and create jobs," D'Amelio stated in a news release. "This investment would have gone a long way to help the airport and surrounding areas create good-paying, stable jobs.”

State Rep. David K. Labriola, R-Oxford, says this may not be the end of the road for the airport enterprise zone.

"I’m hopeful that next session will see passage of an Oxford Airport enterprise zone within the context and structure of the newly established Connecticut Airport Authority," he said.

Hank July 12, 2011 at 12:51 AM
Malloy is more interested in spending money on the "magic bus" from New Britain to Harford (10 min to hartford making 11 stops in 15 miles....at about $30 mil per mile) or high speed rail, totally unsuitable for CT , that cant possibly have speeds greater than 66mph because of the topography and the geography of available land. More studies.....what ever happened to the traffic control light on "killer 67" at Riggs Rd? Is Malloy's state police still investigating the $600,000 in missing tax revenue.....any updates....maybe another 5 years to a solution??
Ed Rowland July 12, 2011 at 01:12 AM
I grew up on Christian St.in Oxford and remember very well the way it was before Oxford Airport and before Triangle Hill.Small family owned farms were up and down Christian St.and Christian Rd.all the way out to 188.Much better for all back then.
Ed Rowland July 12, 2011 at 01:14 AM
Also to Rich Gee.I think Oxford Airport is well beyond the tipping point.Sadly it will only become larger in the future.
Hank July 12, 2011 at 12:06 PM
When was KOXC (Oxford airport) built? When I moved here in 2008 I knew there was an airport surrounded by industrial zones.
Patt Gallichotte July 12, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Easy Google question. Opened 12/15/1969 and yes, owned by State.
Dick Kaminski July 12, 2011 at 01:59 PM
While I moved to Oxford shortly after the airport opened I do not remember the area to be all farms. What I do remember is a simple general aviation airport – no jet aircraft. Virtually no noise during the week and the weekend noise limited to hearing pilots practicing stalls and restarts and the occasional biplane doing loops. Then the airport started to have “safety” improvements made; safety improvements that were accompanied by larger and larger aircraft. I do not know what the new State Airport Authority will see as their charter for Oxford but I would think larger aircraft and more frequent flights will be included. Trading some jobs for additional airport activity is not worth it.
Java July 12, 2011 at 04:17 PM
I agree whole heartedly with Dick K in that trading jobs for airport traffic isn't worth it. I've lived here (mostly) since 1979 and the airport was nothing like what it is now. From what I understand the business jet traffic is primarily empty airplanes coming from New York for hangaring and maintentance. The owners apparently get a substantial property tax break by registering and hangaring in CT rather than NY, so primary passengers are dropped in NY and then aircraft are ferried to CT (empty) for storage. I don't appreciate the airport expansion either but like CSI stated I don't think we can stop it.
Hank July 12, 2011 at 05:01 PM
The jobs created by an airport maintainance facility to include avionics, airframe,etc. and are the specialized high tech jobs we need in CT. These are the people that are moving to TN, TX, GA etc.that we need here to pay for our state Govt insanity.
milfordcs July 12, 2011 at 05:14 PM
So your thought process is as follows: 1. Gov't is crazy and needs to be paid 2. Create jobs to do this, regardless of the other ramifications on neighborhoods, etc. 3. Somehow after this, gov't will no longer be crazy. Sorry, can't agree there. Same thing is happening at the Federal level. Obama spent us into a hole and now wnats to dig us out by taxing us. Backwards thinking. Let's fix the gov't and the "insanity" at the root instead of putting on the band-aid of "high tech jobs" to bring in more money to cover the ridiculous spending. Just stop the ridiculous spending in the first place.
Rachael R July 12, 2011 at 06:16 PM
CS, Suzanne, Java, Rich, Adriene, and Dick you are absolutely right. Quality of life, and real estate values are far more important to the citizens and the complexion of the community than a short term economic gain which will have minimal effect on most people's lives.
John M. Joy July 13, 2011 at 12:36 AM
Your address is 321 Triangle Boulevard, correct? If so, according to Zillow (and please correct if it isn't so), your house was built in 1986. By 1986, OXC went through at least one major expansion, and this area was already regarded as one of the fastest growing in the state. So... what? Did you think the airport was going to SHRINK??!? Why did you buy/build a house there? Oh, yeah, and for the record, OXC was built, and expanded, and is owned and operated by the State of Connecticut, NOT the Town of Oxford.
John M. Joy July 13, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Why Rachael, mo chara, I'm so glad to hear that you're so independently wealthy as to not be concerned about your taxes! I'll have to keep this in mind the next time I'm collecting for one of our Valley non-profit organizations!
Rachael R July 13, 2011 at 12:50 AM
John my friend, hope you are enjoying the summer and your garden. As nice as it would be to be wealthy, I have learned there are riches money can't buy. I am involved in a few non-profit organizations, but always willing to help where I can.
John M. Joy July 13, 2011 at 01:03 PM
Indeed, and I would like to be able to continue enjoying said garden (at least until we relocate to New Hampshire), but the trick is in being able to afford it. And speaking of moving: I can certainly understand the concern about resale value. But Oxford isn't Weston. That particular ship sailed many years ago. We have a growing commercial strip (Route 67) and an industrial zone that has to be a half-century old if it's a day. It's these things that lessen the tax burden on the rest of us. Those who can afford to live in a town that has zoned out practically everything commercial and industrial move to Weston; those who cannot, move here, and need to be able to afford it, too. As for the airport: it should have been apparent to all that when the state (and, once again, OXC is a STATE critter, not Oxford's) decided to drop bucks into a big-ol' honkin' 5800' runway (and 36 has been over five thousand feet long for many, many years now), the intent was not merely to serve weekenders boring holes in the sky with little Cessnas. It would be nice for the communities that have to live with it in their backyards to be able to get a little something from it.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Dear John, No, I did not think that godforsaken airport would shrink. I think I maybe called them about noise, twice, if that. I don't like your tone, sir. This home was the only one we could afford. And oxford was the town that allowed this mess to be built there in the first place. And that power plant, which NOBODY signed on for. Except oxford. The entire part of town that is ruined by the airport contains many families, and we do not want a 'zone' to be slammed down near us, which adds more issues.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Rich, I agree with you.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I expressed my concern to Rob Kane, and he told me I 'misunderstood' the economic zone. He said that it was not going to expand the airport (which is a different issue). I did not 'misunderstand' anything. I don't want this area (and its adjoining areas) to be turned into a desert of businesses, pavement, and more noise. oxford's select woman at the time, when pushed with the question of changing the flight paths to move more over oxford, said "no" that was out of the question. Hmmm.....seems to me that is a wrong answer. Why do we have to have all the bad stuff shoved here in our end of town, whilst the "innocents' in oxford do the shoving? They want the income from the airport but none of the problems. Middlebury, Southbury, and surrounding areas have to deal with noise, loss of real estate value, and fear of ever more expansion, while oxford reaps its paltry benefits. I don't really want a zone created here. If it is merely small businesses that are not harmful to the area, then fine but to be really honest, I wish I had more money, I would leave this lousy state.
John M. Joy July 24, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Once again, the airport was a STATE project, not the town's. And, frankly, I don't give a damn what you think of my tone.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:26 PM
They have their OWN interests in mind. Naivety is not an excuse. All of the surrounding towns MUST make sure this cancer of an airport gets stopped at where it is now. Those of you that are not near it now, beware. If you are in Southbury, Middlebury, and even oxford, this monster can easily grow wildly out of control. More businesses equal more noise, and traffic. Those of you that are not affected now will be then. You guys think its ok for this airport to be here, fine, I have lived with it for over 20 years. But realize that with more businesses and more traffic, that means far more flights that will spread out longer and louder hours. Its going to be a problem for everyone, and if you sit by and do nothing, it can easily swallow up the entire area. Then all the 'country charm' will be lost for all. The people that have the large homes down the street from Triangle Hills SHOULD be alarmed as well. They might feel they are safe from this development, they are not. They might want to get involved and keep the proposed econ zone dead until the state decides to buy out EVERYONE's homes in the area, which is what they should do if oxford insists on being the wonderful town it is. What else are they going to zone here, toxic waste? They will, if they get a dollar to do it.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Yes it is owned by the state, but oxford had to allow the state to use their land for it.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Agreed Dick D.
John M. Joy July 24, 2011 at 03:27 PM
You bought a house off the departure end of the runway of a busy - and growing - airport, said airport residing in the industrial zone of a busy - and growing - town. Exactly what were you expecting?
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:28 PM
The state will back down if enough residents oppose it. CSI, I think you might be either not living here, or one of the Republican cronies. The airport in Stratford makes noise every year about expansion, and the people beat it down. There is also an airport in Danbury, why not make better use of that one instead of here? We need to beat this down as often and as harshly as we can.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Rachel, thanks :D The REAL issue is what are we going to do about it.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Dear John, oxford keeps saying how they are 'developing' and all sorts of hogwash like that. I drive down 67 often and mostly its empty "for lease" buildings and little small shops. My dear, that is NOT development the way we think of it. Those are retail shops and nothing more. What this state NEEDS is more REAL businesses that can employ hundreds of people, not just 2 here and 4 there. 67 is not the epitome of development. We have Waterbury which is connected by highways. Why don't we develop THERE? Why ruin where we live, Waterbury has a lot of place to expand, and I know a lot of people would welcome the jobs (are you listening Mr. Kane?) instead of here at this place.
Suzanne Spinelli July 24, 2011 at 03:35 PM
Just in case I did not make myself abundantly clear: I would not shed a tear if the crappy airport shut down forever.
John M. Joy July 24, 2011 at 03:37 PM
The state can take property by eminent domain for transportation projects, and does so on a fairly regular basis. All of this is academic, though. Many years, and many, many millions of dollars later, here sits OXC, with its control tower and 5,800' runway. They're not going anywhere. Traffic has slacked off as of late due to the cruddy economy, but, if/when that changes, I'm sure it will see plenty of use.
John M. Joy July 24, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Frankly, Oxford doesn't have the political horsepower to get stoplights installed on Route 67, let alone get the DOT to change direction in its aviation infrastructure planning, millions and millions of dollars after the fact. Have you ever flown into DXR? I have. It's in a bowl, with hills on one side and the city center on the other. BDR is in a congested part of the state, and is bordered by wetlands on one side. In both cases, expansion opportunities are extremely limited.
John M. Joy July 24, 2011 at 03:45 PM
...and I highly doubt the state gives a rodent's patootie what you (or I) think about it, one way or the other.
John M. Joy July 24, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Um, and that sort of commercial/industrial development is just what's happening in... ALL TOGETHER NOW! ...the industrial zone up by the airport!

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