How is the actual process progressing?
First we note our interest in MALLS or how to nurture centrality.
And let us not forget MS4 impact - which is all about control over STORM WATER in an environmentally friendly way
FIRST STEP: Establish goals after review of 2010 Plan
After goals you aim for objectives - and if your Plan become a community development action plan, you specify policies and programs for each objective.
Do we need a new LEGEND - here's one - a bit different? I mean, if you don't have public water supply lines and sewers, you are limited in what you can achieve in a 10-year Plan such as this.
Begin work by developing a process
DON'T FORGET LAND USE AND ITS IMPACTS ON ENVIRONMENT
(See Existing Land Use):
"Fact gathering made simple" - review "legend" for the land use map...
THE HEART OF WESTON MUST KEEP BEATING;
Where terrific ideas (or not) floated, returned to earth...we are getting the feeling that circulation planning (including pedestrians in the center of town) will play a really big part in this new Plan.
Are there neighborhoods in Weston? Where and how many?
Implementation of neighborhood action plans
SHOW REMAINING LARGE PARCELS - HAVE WE REACHED "MANIFEST DESTINY" YET?
MAPS AND CHARTS WE CAN SHARE ON THE INTERNET - ORIGINAL GRAPHICS; This is a work in progress (see above - sub-neighborhoods in the Saugatuck Valley now being developed).CONCEPTUALIZATION: If the Central Part of town is the "anvil" and the Northern Part of Town is "rural" how about the rest?
CENTRAL PART OF TOWN. THE HUB - no one can agree exactly where to draw its boundaries. DETAIL, CENTRAL PART OF TOWN. What's there? A unified Schools Campus, the tertiary treatment plant servicing the schools, Town Hall/Library/Fire House #1, two churches, town swimming pond and oh yes, Weston Center.
SUBDIVIDED LANDS: NORTHERN PART OF TOWN. It is distinctly cooler north of Godfrey.
THE EAST SIDE OF WESTON: SAUGATUCK RIVER VALLEY
Seven (7) sub-areas or "neighborhoods" maps. Design "walkability" patterns within sub-areas.
Under construction: Three (3) sub-areas or "neighborhoods" maps, accident data and traffic count data plus if available, intersection turning movement studies. More study of recent traffic patterns, etc.
"...Weston is a unique community with extraordinary resources, but it also faces significant challenges. While the Plan is not a legally binding document, it is the Committee’s (Commission's?) hope that the Plan inspires ideas, provokes discussions and helps guide Weston’s development and conservation efforts in a manner that preserves and protects the things that make Weston a unique and remarkable place to live. It is also our hope that the Plan will assist Weston to meet its challenges, creatively and decisively." From Appendix #1, pp35-36, summary of survey results. (NOTE: These words appear as well on page one.)The 2010 Town Plan asks, as well, on page one:
"How can Weston better protect its water supply, natural resources and rural character?
"How can economic development help Weston control property taxes?
"How can Weston better utilize its facilities to the benefit of all Weston residents?"
Can you locate these? Hint: "Clubs" are in a speckled yellow-brown, Town in blue on this map (l).
Unofficial Existing Land Use Map 2018 above - Town Parks in this shade of green
- Field Club?
- Gun Club?
- Weston Racquet?
- Moore Property?
- We did not color two Town "open" properties bright light green for "Town open space" because they were purchased either for no particular Town use (Fromson-Strassler) or as stated at the same Special Town Meeting, for "land banking" (Moore).
We note that "developed" or subdivided property may have changed hands - as the Plan process goes on, property does change ownership.
And we will be attempting to confirm the accuracy of 2018 map update above. NOTE: in the 1987 Plan update, a traffic study supplied a map of Town including all lot lines of subdivided property.
We will now use the new GIS maps linked to WestCOG online.
Protecting privacy is a concept that goes with living in the woods. We will design conceptual neighborhood maps in graphic format and not apply GIS to them.
MAPS ARE ESSENTIAL OR DID WE SAY THAT ALREADY?
In Weston "DOWNTOWN" - Weston High School now doubled in size, parks, fields, Morehouse Farm Park...plus new Intermediate School ("3-4-5"), other matters.
- After obtaining a base map with roads and lot lines on it., from a consultant, perhaps, bring on the Prismacolor pencils - and the yellow tracing paper (21st century incarnation)!!!
- Since we brought up "21st Century" enabling of land use... planners: If you had to, could you interpolate the most recent aerial photos of town figuring out which were vacant?
- And then see if Google has street views of the busy part (s) of town? That would be a "NO" on Google street view. The absence of which isn't exactly critical to our efforts.
- We expect to enlarge upon the "residential" definition if the information is available and reliable regarding location of legal apartments, home-offices with and without Special Permit designation.
- Speaking of Google as information/communication source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/technology/google-education-chromebooks-schools.html
BREAKING NEWS: WestCOG info...now available online.
The Tax Assessor GIS maps will be available for this online Plan purpose (we asked on Oct. 29, 2018 if we could use them for this "2020Plan") but only thru West COG.
Above, four types of maps used in support of the About Town effort above. SOURCE: Tax Assessor and then U.S. Census, previous P&Z application and our own sketch plan (c. 2005).
- GIS has it for us right off the Town of Weston website - magnified ten times (shown above left) est. 1" = 100', you can even see stone walls! This will help define neighborhood boundaries.
- DATA SOURCE: Leave it to the U.S. Census "Block Group" map of town to mimic what actually exists here in Weston! Almost precisely
- The "Center" of Weston predates zoning and personally, I could never convince the owner to consider a new plan utilizing her extra 7 acres (not shown above) to reduce "non-conformity."
- THE FOURTH: "Conceptual" view of the whole town - divided into theoretical "neighborhoods" that now clearly emerge as Weston gets ever closer to full development.
N E I G H B O R H O O D S : This is a new concept in 2020 - Weston used to consider itself, for planning purposes, homogeneous. With the advent of a new COMPREHENSIVE PLAN APPROACH in 2018, it is appropriate to reconsider this assumption. However, it begs the question because Weston is one neighborhood when it comes to its schools.
2020PLAN RECOMMENDATION HYPOTHESIS: WITH THE INCREASE IN WEATHER EVENTS, WE NEED OUR NEIGHBORS MORE THAN EVER. Yes or no?
The reason we propose "neighborhoods" for planning purposes is that each one picture above has its own personality and specific problems. Which are described below (maps in progress). In addition, the Central Part of Town is the HUB, the ANVIL or whatever a catchy title you would like to describe "DOWNTOWN" as being.
SPEAKING OF MAPS...WESTON CENTER EXISTING BEFORE ZONING, BEFORE MAPS!
WE OFFER "MAP ONE" ABOVE LEFT (Source: Assessor's Map). A good community activity for P&Z would invite Westonites to the high school cafeteria to "fill in the blanks"
- Is there one at a "planning scale" of all roads in town with lot lines we can use and manipulate?
- Do we want sidewalks in the Central Part of Town? From O.L.R in 2015 - review of sidewalks/maintenance/liability by town: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/rpt/pdf/2015-R-0213.pdf
- YES. How to classify roads in 2020 as compared to 2010? Any other infrastructure? Condition of Town Roads ratings?
- Are "neighborhoods" the same as when we last mapped Weston at the turn of the century? How do these hold up against census data/block group boarders?
- The central part of town ("ANVIL") hasn't changed in its importance to the rest of Weston! In fact, the $79 million school-town construction project began after a Special Town Meeting in 2001.
- From Silver/Petrocelli & Milone&MacBroom DRAFT report in full, Facilities Plan updated for schools.
FROM OUR TOWN plan exercise in 1999, updated BY ABOUT TOWN for development since...
WHY IS IT COOLER NORTH OF GODFREY ROAD? Ans.: Percentage of impervious surface very very low, sun's rays absorbed and not reflected back up, JMO. (Source: Assessor's Map). We would have to invite 4-legged Westonites to this Sketch Plan event. Have you ever been to Devil's Den?
- Why is everything (almost) white in Map Two?
- Because north of Godfrey Road is The Nature Conservancy's Devil's Den.
- And Aquarion's Saugatuck Reservoir. Among other "undeveloped" lands.
- Aspetuck Land Trust had significant open space parcels here. As does the Town of Weston itself.
- What role does Eversource play?
- INFRASTRUCTURE: In Weston, with no sewer lines or public water supply lines (with minor exception at two spots abutting Westport), this means:
- Drainage structures on Town roads;
- Bridges (responsibility shared with CT),
- The tertiary treatment plant on School Road - as well as
- Cellular Communication towers,
- Fire ponds,
- Town wells for schools, Town Hall/Library/Fire House #1, as well as @28 homes near Transfer Station.
- Sidewalks: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/rpt/pdf/2015-R-0213.pdf
DONE: Maps of the seven (7) sub-areas on the East Side of Town including including Katherine Ordway Preserve...we have just received permission to use GIS maps here BUT NOT FOR REPRODUCTION.
We will use them only for checking on the accuracy of our recommendations...
Source: Tax Assessor's Maps
THE SAUGATUCK RIVER VALLEY WAS UNIQUE A LONG TIME AGO. It has its own church, firehouse, golf cOURSE and pre-zoning enclave
And it still is - even more so! Why? There might as well be a draw bridge or two or three across the main branch of the Saugatuck River just to get there. For our Plan purposes, there are six (6) sub-neighborhoods in the Saugatuck River Valley. Each of which will be shown in its own map soon...we note that the Lyons Plains Valley sits below the Samuel Senior Dam, holding back the waters of Aquarion's deep storage reservoir. And the story of the construction of that reservoir appears here (although we believe that the Saugatuck Reservoir is part of the BRIDGEPORT service area as opposed to Norwalk): http://www.westonhistoricalsociety.org/saugatuck-reservoir/
Tall Pines neighborhood
- Some might say that the large subdivision by that name, with a border on Westport, was an opportunity lost for cluster development. In any event, it is served by Westport public water supply (as is at least one other dead end street in the neighborhood).
- Notable for its Aspetuck Land Trust open space plus a special arrangement to save the original historic rock walls there.
Pheasant Hill neighborhood
- This was the first subdivision approved after the new subdivision regulations were approved. These new regulations incorporated many of the recommendations of the 1976 Dominski-Oakrock Study ("W.E.R.M." - Weston Environmental Resources Manual). Among these: zero incremental run off (FYI - run off determined by detention capability of the land to avoid down stream flooding), 10% open space set aside. Also, for safety, limit to the length of dead end roads in subdivision to 1500 feet and required turnaround for fire trucks.
- Aspetuck Land Trust open space parcel assisted in "detaining" run off on a major hillside...
VALLEY FORGE MAP
Although this was not closed to traffic, it is the link to "ring" sub-neighborhoods including the upper part of Valley Forge Road that was closed to traffic by Parks & Rec for a "pop-up" bike-walk event.
- Is this still in 2018 the center of the Saugatuck Vallley neighborhood? Location of Fire House, church and golf club (A.V.C.C.).
- Just across the "Troll Bridge" - Valley Forge Road, the upper part the site of most recent attempt to create a new type of "CLUB WESTON" and perhaps the rebirth and renewal of original ABOUT TOWN concept!
- ...ALTHOUGH THIS EVENT TAKES PLACE IN OUR "NORTHERN PART OF TOWN" Saugatuck Valley residents have easiest access - which goes to reinforce my opinion that in planning, everything happens in Weston at the break point on assessor's maps - to protect everyone's privacy from casual information-seekers.
- Home of the pre-zoning colony "Stonybrook" this sub-area shows what a cluster subdivision might look like in Weston!
- Close to Westport. In the sense that roads filter out onto CT 136 ("Easton Turnpike").
Lyons Plains Valley - "both sides now"
- Of course, although the Saugatuck River cuts off the two sides of town, this "neighborhood-within a sub-neighborhood" is special because of the Katherine Ordway Preserve (article about Katherine Ordway here).
- As we may have noted already, the East Side of Town has two bridges across the Saugatuck as gateways. Cartbridge Road and the old town swimming hole is here. Speaking of swimming...
- From the Weston FORUM: "...The Cartbridge bridge has been closed to traffic since it was damaged during a storm in April 2007. Cartbridge Road, when the bridge is operational, connects Goodhill Road with Lyons Plain Road."
Lower Lyons Plains
- Two Historic Districts connect Lower Lines Plains to Lyons Plain Valley.
- Close by Westport and entities of social engagement.
MAP FOUR (note that there are three  sub-areas - or a "'three ring circus"). This is a conceptual map because the main review here will be related to traffic counts and intersection studies...to come.
The RING about the Central Part of Town follows topography. TRAFFIC funnels to schools, Center & town hall/library. And we note that part of Wilton filters up hill to Weston Center for shopping and Lunch Box!!!
LOCAL TRAFFIC AUTHORITIES ARE IN CHARGE OF TRAFFIC CONTROLS ON LOCAL STREETS
Sometimes the traffic pattern stalls when school bus traffic, or more likely, drop-off by parents, gets intense twice a day, especially in the mornings with commuting volume of thru traffic.
The major roads in the RING will show in the final version of this "neighborhood" map, and are:
- Route 57 (Georgetown Road) - put your car in neutral and enjoy the S-Curve into the H-Intersection and the blinker...be careful - commuter route.
- Route 57 (Weston Road) - traffic lights always indicate there is volume of traffic to be controlled - commuter route.
- Kettle Creek becomes Old Hyde Road as it heads north. It had intersected at an angle with Weston Road.
- Good Hill (Good Hill Extension is a dead end). Similar to Kettle Creek.(but intersects with Weston Road further to the south- with a traffic light)
- Treadwell Lane and...
- Birch Hill Road are north-south connections between east-west roads - but not designed to carry thru traffic - rather, are connectors for local traffic.
- Steep Hill Road - major east-west route.
- Godfrey Road - major road east-west is northern boundary of RING.
- Valley Forge Road - perhaps the easternmost boundary of RING.
- Davis Hill Road - similar to above.
BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY
At the forefront of controlling what goes on in the RING, we think, is the Police Commission, whose job is to protect and preserve lives and property.
METHODOLOGY: Our study from some years ago identified "neighborhoods." Current maps from the Tax Assessor have better and more useful land/building information that can be included in definition of neighborhoods.
What is our Plan response to external forces/threats as what the C.G.A. up to?
Imagination at work, tempered by reason: 3 concepts require local changes/modification in zoning/circulation planning - not fully spelled out here.
High Growth (more than 50% increase in population):
- Can only take place by provision of public water supply and sewer lines.
- Tertiary treatment /private wells not adequate.
- Population growth supports second shopping center on East Side of town.
Medium (maintain present density):
Low-build (small reduction in population as per C.E.R.C. projection):
- Schools regionalized (State of Connecticut mandate)
- Tertiary treatment abandoned, replaced by common septic for schools;
- All residences served by private wells, septic systems
To begin with, we wanted to call it "About Town" the same as our weekly column in the Weston-Today. But it should be no surprise to anyone that that original idea was not original. "About Town" URL was taken back in 1998 when we began this online activity.
Who is watching you online? We know that lately we seem to be a source for activity on "Town Plan 2008-2018" (our observations of P&Z and related matters).
Previousy we had noted visits to our Strategic Planning page as well as the Selectmen 2017-2019 page.
"MALL," which is new as well, attempts to discuss major issues confronting our town and external forces involved. And another research page: https://www.aboutweston.com/MILLENNIALS.html
Do we fit the description of a "New Town" or some other urban design approach to making Weston a home for "centrality?" And now this page, "2020," continuing to develop data and reports about our original ideas foe the new Town Plan.
If history is any assurance, there will be an overwhelming response. And 2020 implies that this planning tool might provide...vision?
ABOUT TOWN Town planning experience doing research goes back to the days before computers. Primary data is where you find it.
Working with primary data from official records of licensed junkyards, we developed techniques to analyze it. Our topic was the secondary materials industry in NYC and impact on neighborhoods (a small section of the NYC Plan of C&D).
WESTON CENSUS OF CHILDREN
In the Town of Weston, population 10,000+, not only can you reach every household (@3400) but assessor's records in the public domain and other sources can provide answers to corroborate actual responses. It was About Town's pleasure to work on this project. Three times the Town sent out such a "Census" before putting the $79 million proposition to the voters - the last undertaken by the IT department at Town Hall. The first two were directed by the Board of Selectmen and assisted by the P.T.O.'s.
DOWNTOWN PEDESTRIAN MALLS
Having gone through the rigors of developing an original topic of research and completing a PhD dissertation on it, it is clear that how you frame your questions and limit your topic will provide the best data for analysis. Here is a link to a published article from it: https://books.google.com/books?id=pggsCvRaXJcC&pg=PA229&lpg=PA229&dq=downtown+pedestrian+malls+wirtenberg&source=bl&ots=IwmMNH3HdV&sig=cis53qsJ7cdey11OQbz0J2uJtpQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=6EWXVbnGLcP2-AGT54GgCQ&ved=0CDEQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=downtown%20pedestrian%20malls%20wirtenberg&f=false
NON-CONFORMITY IN THE C.G.S.
In Weston, CT
SOURCES: Which are "primary" and which are
"secondary?" We are pretty strict - although some might want to
consider U.S. Census "primary" we are more inclined to take it with a
grain of salt. As Mark Twin
said...according to a source I find handy to use but don't believe all
the time, and from my own statistical research training teachings, statistics don't lie...but misusing them is a favorite sport of those who would care to.
OTHER INFORMATION FOUND ON THE "ABOUT WESTON" WEBSITE (BESIDES JUST TYPING IN A WORD OR TITLE IN THE SEARCH BOX ON THE INDEX PAGE):
O.L.R. report "village" districts v. "historic districts" https://www.cga.ct.gov/2003/rpt/2003-R-0921.htm
RUN OFF definition from the source: https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/runoff-surface-and-overland-water-runoff?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects
NYTimes story on "starter homes" - https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/20/business/economy/starter-homes-investors.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
CT Bike-Ped report - http://www.ctbikepedboard.org/uploads/7/8/7/9/78791402/ctbpab_2016_ar_final_digital__1_.pdf
O.L.R. report on SIDEWALKS: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/rpt/pdf/2015-R-0213.pdf
Storch Associates/Lionel Rodgers produced the first map of town (1986 Road Study) with lot lines and roads built as parts of subdivisions, on it. This map was valued highly by Town Engineer until technology and aerial photos of region made it easy to do (thank you SWRPA)!
U.S. Census of Housing
CT General Assembly
VILLAGE DISTRICTS CT STATUTES
Strategic Plan part one
Global Facilities Committee
State of Connecticut Municipal Fiscal Indicators
UCONN MAP CENTER
TOWN OF WESTON MAP PORTAL
LINK TO OTHER TOWN PLANS, UPDATES/PROCESSES
AVOID NEED FOR THIS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=70&v=UvXjmke8B7Q
SOURCE RELATED TO IMPLEMENTING STORM WATER PLAN AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL LOT USE: https://bmpstore.com/
Education Facilities Plan 2017:
2018 Wilton survey
2018 EASTON PLAN OF C&D PROPOSED:
FULL OF DATA ON WESTON. EASTON'S NEW PLAN OF C&D
S O M E T H I N G I N T H E A I R. . .L A N D B A N K I N G ?
CT Senate did not vote on HB6749 before midnight.
Long Session 2019: Majority adopts Venezuela model. New thinking takes the helm! Only 35 years late...
EDUCATION ONE AREA FOR REGIONALIZATION?
We note that the bill HB5045 passed the
House but with an amendment that rendered it pretty harmless. It
was not brought up in the Senate.
HOW THE LEGISLATURE HAS BEEN LEANING LATELY...ELSEWHERE ON THE TOWN PLAN OF C&D FRONT
THE GOVERNOR'S BILL:
HB5045 - a step along the way to removing zoning power (CT STATUTES) from towns. No more "sticks" with this amendment...extraction on the floor of the House.
(These comments come from About Town...what impact related to outside agencies and their potential influence on the next Town Plan update...should not be ignored or minimized).
DIRECT FROM C.G.A. P&D PUBLIC HEARING MARCH 16, 2018:
UPDATE FOR LONG SESSION IN 2019:
As best we can figure, the version of the bill referred to below that was presented in 2019 had "teeth" in the sense that conditional language was strengthened if note mandated. The 2019 bill - HB6747 - was represented as a "simplification" of zoning statutes when presented in Committee and on the floor of the House, It did not get a vote in the Senate when it was called on the last Session Day 2019.
We note that the map above was presented at P&D 2018 Public Hearing . NOTE TO OUR P&Z ON PLAN UPDATE: Weston is in the cross-hairs!
What to do? We should hire an environmental lawyer who will draft new zoning regs, rather than a planner, to assist with Plan rewrite.
Please be aware that this is the year that the hammer may very well drop on zoning as we have known it. Or maybe next year, after the November elections - towns v. cities?
This does not mean anything by itself, because as the Commissioner stated, this bill will only require "checking the box" to get out from under, as the Commissioner of Housing said towns, especially in red, (as we heard it live on CT-N) should:
- Adopt one district for "3 or more units" per lot. Weston presently has an apartment permit for all properties zoned residential (2 units) and permits roomers and boarders (up to 3?) on every property.
- Create one district for mixed use. A "Center Plan" could specify rental units permitted "downtown" if environmentally safe to do.
- Accessory dwelling unit by right. We've had that since the 1960's.
So what Weston has to do in the new Town Plan is revise its existing regulation in the following way:
- Since we already permit an apartment on any lot if environmentally suitable, emphasize this in NEW regs.
- Second, develop an "Energy Improvement District" related to our virtual net metering plans that allows for shared infrastructure which permits higher density;
- With assistance of the Assessor during the reassessment process ongoing, determine where existing apartments are located.