Monroe Chamber celebrates economic growth at holiday luncheon

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Town Planner Rick Schultz and First Selectman Ken Kellogg were among the guests at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce's holiday luncheon at Jennie's Pizzeria Tuesday.

MONROE, CT — Town officials gave an update on the local economy during the Monroe Chamber of Commerce’s holiday luncheon at Jennie’s Pizzeria on Monroe Turnpike Tuesday afternoon.

First Selectman Ken Kellogg talked about the Panera Café being built at Towne Line Plaza,  a new plan for a standalone Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-thru on Monroe Turnpike and the continued redevelopment of the old Stevenson Lumber property, where the Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved a new self-storage facility.

Monroe Chamber President Ray Giovanni wears his Christmas jacket at the holiday luncheon at Jennie’s Pizzeria Tuesday.

“The Chamber is integral to our community,” Kellogg told members, who sat around tables, while chicken and eggplant dishes were served. “You’re all here helping each other, retaining businesses and helping businesses grow.”

The first selectman also praised the work of Chamber President Ray Giovanni, who is also chairman of the Monroe Economic Development Commission.

As new businesses open in town, Kellogg said his administration is always trying to find ways to make the approval process for permits and applications easier.

“We hired someone for a combined zoning and wetlands enforcement position,” Kellogg said.

Town Planner Rick Schultz said the new employee is a people person, promoting a friendly atmosphere at Monroe Town Hall.

“I’ve been here for three years and the emphasis has always been on customer service,” Schultz said.

He said streamlining has been done, adding, “today I am implementing a major change to the pre-construction process. It’s to get things done and to move forward. We’re in the winter months, but the winter has been mild so far and we have some contractors who want to move forward.”

“I’m thrilled with the Planning and Zoning Commission that I work for,” Schultz said. “They’re all in synch. The meetings have gone very well.”

He said the commission recently approved a new Plan of Conservation and Development, which will be in place for the next decade. It includes some significant changes, such as allowing apartments, according to Schultz.

Previn Patel, principal of Insurance Services of Monroe, wears a Santa hat at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce’s holiday luncheon at Jennie’s Pizzeria Tuesday afternoon.

“We have a new overlay zone that has been successful in Newtown,” he said. “We have developers who want to use that special technique that provides more latitude and flexibility. We are moving forward under Ken’s leadership. All the boards and commissions are working together in a spirit of cooperation.”

Bill Holsworth, the town’s director of community and economic development, offered business cards to anyone who wanted his contact information, told diners there are business pages on the town website and to  follow the EDC on Facebook and Instagram, so “you can stay abreast with everything the town is working on.”

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