A cease and desist order blocks access to New London Harbor Light

NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Foot traffic has increased at New London Harbor Light ever since it was taken over by a non-profit promising to keep it open to the public.

On this day, local school children were hoping to take a tour.

(WTNH / Tina Detelj)

“The kids were so disappointed because they were hoping to get up into the lighthouse,” says Margaret Palmer, a volunteer with the New London Maritime Society. “And usually in the past we were able to take them up the 119 steps, all the way to the top.”

(WTNH / Tina Detelj)

The lighthouse has been off limits since July, when a cease and desist order was issued pending a possible zoning change.

“If the zoning change involves the idea of this being a museum, it is obviously is not a museum, it’s a lighthouse,” says Carolyn Leuze, who is also with the New London Maritime Society, which owns the lighthouse.

It is surrounded by neighbors who are a lot less than a stone’s throw away.

“We’re worried about liability. When people come across our land if somebody gets hurt,” one neighbor told News8 last November.

(WTNH / Tina Detelj)

The close proximity to private homes is also raising concerns about who can come to the lighthouse and at what time of day.

Those concerns have prompted the call for a zoning change.

If the zoning board of appeals deems the lighthouse a museum, the New London Maritime Society may have to establish hours and other rules about access before anyone is allowed back in.

“Well I’m not sure what has been done in the past about the zoning but I do know the lighthouse has always been open to people,” says Leuze.

The ZBA meets at New London City Hall September 24 at 6 p.m. and supporters of the lighthouse along with those who have concerns about it are expected to attend.