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Dec. 18--NORWICH -- A plan to turn a historic mill building in Yantic into a high-end hotel earned a thumbs up from the Historic District Commission on Monday night.

The mill building, known as Hale Mill was originally built in 1864 as a textile mill, sits at 140 Yantic Road, across from the Yantic Volunteer Fire Department. According to records at City Hall, the buyer, Mill Development CT LLC, of Woodside, N.Y., purchased the 10-acre property in June for $826,000.

Director of Planning and Neighborhood Services Deanna Rhodes said the plans call for a 151-room hotel on the property, with several amenities including an indoor pool, restaurant, banquet facility and recreational space. She said the plans for the proposed hotel were submitted in October, and those plans have already cleared one hurdle -- approval from the Inland Wetlands, Watercourses and Conservation Commission at its Dec. 6 meeting.

Monday's meeting of the Historic District Commission resulted in no binding action, but rather served as an opportunity for the commission to review the plans for the project within a Mill Reuse Overlay District and offer its recommendations to the Commission on the City Plan ahead of its public hearing and possible action on the project scheduled for Tuesday night.

Commission member Regan Miner said that Rhodes had asked the commission to offer its opinion on the historic integrity of the project.

"From an adaptive reuse perspective, I am a big proponent," commission Chairman Charles Scott Learned said. "This is a building worthy of salvaging."

After the commission reviewed the development plans for the property, and compared them to historic photos of the mill property, members decided to draft a statement to the Commission on the City Plan, lending their support for the project.

"We are supportive of the adaptive reuse of the building and encourage the restoration and preservation of the appearance of the core structure," the statement said.

The statement will become part of the official record for the Committee on the City Plan's public hearing Tuesday night.

Rhodes said the meeting Tuesday will address two areas of the plan -- a special permit request for a proposal to convert an existing mill building to a hotel, as the property is within a flood plain; and a site plan approval for the proposed conversion in accordance with the Mill Reuse Overlay District, since the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hale Mill, also known as the Yantic Woolen Company Mill, originally operated as a manufacturer of textiles from 1865 until the late 1980s. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

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