MONROE, CT — First Selectman Ken Kellogg touted a “business friendly” environment leading to new development in town, while speaking at the Monroe Chamber of Commerce’s annual Holiday Luncheon at Monroe Social Tuesday afternoon.
He thanked his team at Monroe Town Hall, including Town Planner Rick Schultz, who he said has been “integral” to creating the atmosphere needed for economic growth, and Chief Building Official John J. Morris, Jr.
“The last time we met, the biggest issue that we had in the town was our Building Department, because it kind of got decimated through retirements and changes and personnel issues,” Kellogg said. “And to bring John Morris onboard, not only is our Building Department staffed, we are caught up. Nothing is in the queue.”
“John has already made a lot of great changes,” he said. “I mean there are things now, simple things. When you walk in, you will get a sign off across the counter to get started immediately on small projects. That’s because of John looking with a fresh perspective and saying, ‘we can change the way we do business.'”
William Holsworth, the town’s director of economic and community development, was also singled out for praise from the first selectman.
Summarizing an article published in the Greater Bridgeport Region 2022 Economic Outlook, Kellogg mentioned projects such as the Panera Café that recently opened on Monroe Turnpike and the adoption of mixed-use regulations that may lead to the construction of Gateway Commons, a housing and commercial development with 62 apartments proposed at the Monroe-Trumbull border.
Holsworth continued the optimism by discussing over 20 developments along the Route 25 (Main Street) corridor, from the Trumbull to the Newtown lines.
This includes expansion of longtime existing businesses, such as Edgerton and Town Line Body Shop, and businesses like Stone Farm that expanded using new regulations.
Among the new businesses mentioned were Mariola Bakery & Deli and MEETME Premium Steaks. Holsworth also updated the chamber on projects receiving land use approvals, but that still need a building permit.
Kellogg discussed zone changes sparking the redevelopment of the Stevenson Lumber property, relaxed regulations allowing outdoor dining, and technological upgrades to improve the application process.
MCC supports local businesses
The Monroe Chamber of Commerce hosts ribbon cuttings for new businesses, runs promotions to shop local and holds workshops and networking events for members.
Chamber President Ray Giovanni said he was honored to have current town officials and former Monroe first selectman, Steve Vavrek, at Tuesday’s holiday luncheon.
“I’m honored to come and share holiday festivities with the wonderful businesses in town who came today,” he said, adding of the owner of Monroe Social, “and I enjoyed the professional services and fare that Constantin and his family provided to us.”
Constantin Crama often hosts town events at his restaurant at 494 Main St.
“Being a chamber member myself, I’m happy the chamber chose to have its annual holiday party at my establishment,” Crama said. “And I’m very appreciative of the support of Monroe residents, who come in to enjoy our venue.”