New causeway bridge gets all local permits

by Mary Grow

China Planning Board members have approved the necessary local permits for the new causeway bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin.

At the Aug. 14 board meeting, members of the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Committee that is heading up the entire causeway project summarized the plan to replace the existing bridge with a concrete box culvert. The top of the new structure will be higher above the water, allowing kayakers and canoeists to go under the road, and significantly wider, providing highway space for larger vehicles plus a pedestrian walkway and an ATV trail.

Tom Michaud, speaking for the TIF Committee, said the project has permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers. Work is expected to start in September or possibly October and to take about three weeks.

The audience at the Aug. 14 meeting consisted of TIF Committee members and representatives of the China Baptist Church, which owns property west of the construction site. Pastor Ronald Morrell questioned whether the project will infringe slightly on church property; if so, he said, church bylaws prescribe the appropriate process.

Nearby resident Margo Allen sent an email expressing concerns about trash, noise, traffic and similar effects on neighbors. Board members had a copy of the document, and Chairman Tom Miragliuolo summarized it for the audience.

Since Ronald Breton and James Wilkens, two of the five Planning Board members present, are also TIF Committee members, they abstained on the vote on the application. It was approved 3-0, with Miragliuolo, Toni Wall and Kevin Michaud in favor.

Board members decided to cancel their second August meeting unless Codes Officer Paul Mitnik receives at least one permit application in the next week. Their first September meeting falls on Tuesday, Sept. 11.


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