Information here on CT Plan taken from OPM website - to go directly to the complete document, link immediately below.

CONNECTICUT  PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT 2013-2018 (DRAFT)
Draft C&D Plan 2013-2018 Locational Guide Map link below (click on the blow-up of Weston)




MUST READ DOCUMENT - WESTON WATER RESOURCE GUIDE; AND TABLE OF CONTENTS TO  2013-2018 DRAFT STATE PLAN OF C&D?  Here are "car tax" and "statewide property tax" stories.

HOT LINKS:  Updating what is happening in the land use field in Connecticut





SUBURBAN REDEVELOPMENT IN 21ST CENTURY:  How does this fit into the CT State Plan 2013-2018?
Research, insurance companies, big farma research in CT shrink...new mini-cities to replace them?


Simsbury Facing 'Big' Problem: The Office Complex Left Behind
Several Suburban Towns Lose Tenants From Sizable Corporate Campuses, Look For Ways To Redevelop
The Hartford Courant
By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN
7:57 AM EST, November 24, 2013

From the landmark Heublein Tower, the scenic view of Simsbury shows most properties as specks on the landscape — with the exception of one: the sprawling suburban campus of The Hartford Financial Services Group.  Even from a distance there is no mistaking the 173-acre parcel and its 641,000-square-foot main building, the size of four Walmart supercenters.

Now it's up for sale by The Hartford, which is looking to cut costs. The huge parcel's fate will dictate the future direction of an entire section of Simsbury — and have no small impact on the town's grand list. The Hartford pays $1.6 million a year in property taxes.  The site is the latest in a growing number of single-tenant suburban campuses in the state and nationally that are rapidly becoming outmoded as the space needs of corporations shrink.

"It's a little like when the Roman empire fell and the Barbarians came in," Patrick Pinnell, a Hartford-area architect and planner, said. "What do we do with all these temples?"

Husks Of Another Era

In the past decade, suburban corporate campuses around Connecticut — some built as recently as the 1980s — have been abandoned. Technology has replaced workers who once did routine data entry and other tasks. Corporations are allowing an increasing number of employees to work from home. And lean economic times have led companies to get along with fewer employees.  Health insurer Aetna demolished its 1.3 million-square-foot campus in Middletown in 2011, once touted as the office park of the future. The 260-acre property remains on the market.

The town of Ridgefield bought the former Schlumberger-Doll Research Center in 2011, after it sat vacant for five years. One of the buildings on the campus was designed by Glass House architect Philip Johnson. Only now is the town trying to sell off portions of 45-acre site to recoup its $7 million investment.  And in Groton, Pfizer is knocking down a 750,000-square-foot research center amid a dramatic downsizing in the state.

"These large buildings after many years don't fit the typical size of tenants in our current market," said Jonathan Putnam, a broker at commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield in Hartford.

Experts say the era of the large, single-tenant office complex in the suburbs is rapidly coming to an end. There are some exceptions, such as state-subsidized Jackson Laboratories research complex in Farmington that seeks to capitalize on being close to the University of Connecticut Health Center.

The Hartford will continue to pay real estate taxes to Simsbury as long as it owns the property. But the revenue will be drastically cut when it vacates the property in the next few years, removing computers and other taxable property. The money spent in town by workers at the 200 Hopmeadow St. complex also will dry up.

"The early 1980s was certainly significant with The Hartford coming to Simsbury," Hiram Peck, the town's director of development, said. "The hope is we will be successful in attracting other uses for the property. And then that would be the next chapter for The Hartford's property."

Changing With The Times

The Hartford's arrival in Simsbury, on the banks of the Farmington River, was preceded by a divisive debate in town between those welcoming new, large-scale development and those who worried about urbanization of the bedroom community.  The issue was so hotly contested that 3,000 residents jammed the town meeting to vote on the matter. At that time, the town meeting was the largest in Simsbury's 311-year-history.

The campus opened in 1984. At its height, The Hartford employed about 3,000 people at the complex, which includes a massive data center and a building with three distinctive wings. The Hartford wouldn't say how many workers are in Simsbury now, but in February, when the insurer first announced its intentions to leave, there were about 1,500. Of the sale, the insurer would only say the process was continuing.

The Hartford is a much different company than when it first arrived in town. When the insurer built on land it bought from the town, it was expanding its life insurance operations, which found a home in Simsbury. Today, amid a dramatic restructuring set into motion by the recent recession, The Hartford sold off portions of those operations and is consolidating remaining workers at its Hartford headquarters and a newer, smaller campus in Windsor.

When the $50 million complex in Simsbury was constructed for The Hartford, it was the largest business center in the town. This time around, the redevelopment of the property could be just as dramatic.  This fall, the town, in conjunction with The Hartford, researched possible uses for the property and came up with a myriad of options that could mix bioscience research, technology or higher education with a strong component of housing, possibly mixing single-family houses, condominiums and apartments. Housing would be paired with shops, restaurants and other services.

One option would return some of the property to farmland for growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables.  Peck said the redevelopment essentially would create a new section of town. Housing options would encourage workers to live in the same neighborhood so they could walk to work.

The vision is far-reaching and would likely require a master developer, Peck said. New zoning regulations are being written, and development would likely take a decade or more. The wild card is the economy, and uneven job growth could further stretch out the timetable.  John M. McCormick, executive vice president at commercial real estate services firm CBRE/NE in Hartford, hired by the insurer to market the property, said there has been early interest in it. He declined to identify the parties.

McCormick said the redevelopment of a portion of the Cigna campus in Bloomfield serves as one model. In 2003, the Emhart building, or North Building, was demolished and in the years that followed apartments, single-family houses, a golf course and shops rose on the site. Retailers are a mix of national chains and local independent operators, he said.

Studies by a consultant hired by the town — part of a "charette" — shows Simsbury has similar potential, McCormick said. In addition, the office building is easily divided for smaller tenants, he said.

"This is an underdeveloped site that has all sort of attributes that could provide live, work and play opportunities," McCormick said.

'Urban Vibe In The 'Burbs'

Nationally, complexes like The Hartford's are increasingly being reimagined as "small cities," said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

"You make it multi-use by surrounding it with other uses," Hughes said. "What you're trying to do is create an urban vibe in the suburbs."

One recent example, Hughes said, is in Bridgewater, N.J., where a 1.2-million-square-foot office and research park formerly occupied the Sanofi, the French pharmaceutical giant was purchased by a developer. The developer wants to create a hotel, retail, restaurant and possibly, apartments.

In Connecticut, the redevelopment of the former Union Carbide headquarters in Danbury took a similar course. The new owners of the 1.2 million-square-foot building, designed with pods to resemble a molecule, have invested $20 million into the structure since buying it for $74 million in 2009.

Aaron Smiles, director of corporate leasing for the owner, Matrix Realty Group, based in Long Island, N.Y., said the complex — vacated by Union Carbide after it was purchased by Dow Chemical in 2001 — already had two major tenants when Matrix purchased the property: pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim and Praxair, a former Union Carbide division.  Those tenants, still anchors, accounted for 45 percent of the complex, a plus, but there had been little investment in the property by two owners that followed Union Carbide.

"You stepped into the building, and you were right back at Union Carbide," Smiles said. "Nothing had been done. We started ripping everything up."

In four years, Smiles said, the building is now 75 percent occupied, accommodating tenants who need as little a couple hundred square feet to tenants of 100,000 square feet.

"We act as an incubator for large companies as well as small companies," Smiles said. "This is now our flagship building."

Key to the makeover has been the addition of amenities: a 10,000-square-foot fitness center, child-care center with outdoor playground, a massage therapist, a bank, a hair salon, a Starbucks and a nail salon. The building also has been promoted for use for conferences and wedding.

"It's a little city," Smiles said. "It's absolutely a little city."

How quickly such a redevelopment would be embraced by Simsbury remains to be seen. Several years ago, residents turned out in force to oppose big-box retail development just down the road on Hopmeadow Street.  Hughes said redevelopment of sites such as the one in Simsbury can be jarring, at least at first, for town residents.

"You're talking about intensifying the use," Hughes said. "It's not the quiet facility surrounded by grass and trees anymore."

An early version of this story mistakenly reported the annual tax payment on The Hartford's Simsbury property. The assessed value is $44 million. The annual tax payment is $1.6 million.

Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant


Regional Planning Organizations now to all be Councils of Governments by January 1, 2015.  HVCEO-SWRPA north-south transportation atudy.

CT Plan of Conservation and Development 2013-2018
Not much planned for Weston except recognition of an actual "village center" - which in the CT Plan is suggested as a place to locate "small scale" water and sewer service (r)




ENTRY LEVEL QUESTIONS:  WHAT DOES THE RED MEAN IN MAP BELOW? 



"Undesignated" is white in Legend (look closely)and not red - a drafting mistake?   Or only official if the Towns agree to it by October 2, 2012?


BELOW, PRIORITY DEVELOPMENT IN REGION (SHADES OF RED TO PINK) IN DRAFT C&D PLAN 2013-2018 - THE ONLY GROWTH MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLE FOR WESTON
COMPARE TO CT C&D PLAN 2005-2010 HERE  


DRAFT Locational Guide Map 2013-2018 blowup (l)  and (r) priority development areas in 2013-2018;  Can you make out the orange spot  meaning  near Weston Center? 


GROWTH MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLE #2 (click above for map blow up)






NEW STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS

There have been some significant amendments to state planning statutes since the current State C&D Plan was adopted in 2005: Public Act 05-205 expands the definition of “funding” to include “any form of assurance, guarantee, grant payment, credit, tax credit or other assistance, including a loan, loan guarantee, or reduction in the principal obligation of or rate of interest payable on a loan or a portion of a loan”, as well as require OPM to develop recommendations for the delineation of boundaries of “priority funding areas”. (CGS Sec. 16a-35c through Sec. 16a-35h) Public Act 08-182 outlines new performance-based planning and programming requirements.

Although this Draft includes examples of performance indicators for measuring progress, OPM recognizes that there still needs to be broad consensus developed around a set of meaningful and measurable performance indicators.

OPM views the establishment of benchmarks for each Growth Management Principle as a longer term goal that will be addressed only after a high degree of confidence has been developed around the baseline data to be collected on the performance indicators. (CGS Sec. 16a-27(e)) Public Act 09-230 defines “principles of smart growth” and Public Act 10-138 requires state agencies to consider whether certain grant application proposals comply with such principles. (CGS Sec. 4-37l) Public Act 10-138 directs OPM to develop a new process for the revision, adoption, implementation and amendment of the State C&D Plan, and to submit a draft of such process to the Continuing Committee. OPM submitted said report in January 2011 and has proceeded to implement the new process accordingly, so that the “planning policies of different levels of government are compared and differences between such policies are reconciled with the purpose of attaining compatibility between local, regional and state plans.”

A summary of this “Cross-Acceptance Process” is included below.


CROSS-ACCEPTANCE PROCESS

Due to the desire of many for a more bottom-up approach to the State C&D Plan revision process, OPM proceeded to implement the new cross-acceptance process as described in its January 2011 report to the Continuing Committee. Following the report’s submission, OPM conducted initial outreach workshops over the next several months, which are summarized in Attachment B. OPM incorporated its findings from these workshops in the initial Draft 2013-2018 C&D Plan that was submitted to the Continuing Committee in December 2011 for a required 90-day review.

From January through March 2012, OPM proceeded to implement the plan comparison phase of the cross-acceptance process. During this period, OPM conducted fourteen regional workshops and various coordinating meetings with state agencies, which are summarized in Attachment C. The Continuing Committee opted not to comment during this early review period.

In total, 135 municipalities and 14 Regional Planning Organizations (RPOs) participated in the voluntary plan comparison phase. The participating municipalities and RPOs reviewed their respective plans of conservation and development to determine the extent to which they were compatible with the planning policies of the initial Draft C&D Plan. That effort, combined with input from affected state agencies, provided OPM with general consensus in support of the policies listed under each Growth Management Principle. The outcome of the plan comparison phase provided OPM with the basis for producing this revised Draft C&D Plan for public review and comment.

The public comment period will run from May through September 2012 (NOW OCT. 2), and OPM will coordinate with RPOs to schedule public hearings in each of the state’s fourteen planning regions. In addition to the statutory public hearing requirements, any municipality that wishes to continue its participation in the voluntary cross-acceptance process may request, through its RPO or other designated regional cross-acceptance facilitator, an informal workshop to discuss any element(s) of the Draft C&D Plan. Such workshops are intended to provide local and regional officials with additional opportunities to address any unresolved issues or to seek clarification on the Draft C&D Plan before progressing to the plan negotiation phase of the cross-acceptance process.

Upon conclusion of the public hearings in September 2012, OPM will begin scheduling plan negotiation meetings when requested by an RPO or other designated regional cross-acceptance facilitator on behalf of its municipalities. These meetings are intended to address any remaining unresolved issues before the regional and state negotiating entities set out to draft an optional Statement of Agreements and Disagreements for inclusion in OPM’s recommended Draft C&D Plan that will be submitted to the Continuing Committee prior to the start of the 2013 legislative session. The inclusion of such statements in the recommended Draft C&D Plan is intended to provide state legislators with information pertaining to their constituent municipalities’ level of support for the Draft 2013-2018 State C&D Plan when it is considered for adoption by the General Assembly.




Growth Management Principle #6

FORMAT OF THE PLAN

The State C&D Plan is defined in CGS Section 16a-25 as “the text of such plan and any accompanying locational guide map.” In order to address the new statutory requirements noted above, OPM is taking a stepped approach to building consensus on potential changes to both the text and map components of the Plan.

The text of the State C&D Plan is presented in a new condensed format that is built around six Growth Management Principles:

1) Redevelop and Revitalize Regional Centers and Areas with Existing or Currently Planned Physical Infrastructure

2) Expand Housing Opportunities and Design Choices to Accommodate a Variety of Household Types and Needs

3) Concentrate Development Around Transportation Nodes and Along Major Transportation Corridors to Support the Viability of Transportation Options


4) Conserve and Restore the Natural Environment, Cultural and Historical Resources, and Traditional Rural Lands


5) Protect and Ensure the Integrity of Environmental Assets Critical to Public Health and Safety

6) Promote Integrated Planning Across all Levels of Government to Address Issues on a Statewide, Regional and Local Basis


Not only do the Growth Management Principles serve as the chapters of the State C&D Plan, but municipalities and RPOs must also consider these principles when they update their respective plans of conservation and development (CGS Sections 8-23 and 8-35a). Therefore, it is important that the State C&D Plan clearly convey itself in a manner that municipalities, RPOs and state agencies can all relate to.

Each Growth Management Principle begins with a brief summary statement of its objectives. This is followed by: A list of relevant policy statements that provide the basis for state agencies to assess the consistency of their proposed plans and actions with the State C&D Plan (Note: OPM recognizes that a number of policy statements can apply to more than one Growth Management Principle; however, there was an intentional effort to limit such cross-references.  Whenever a state agency must make a determination of consistency for a proposed action with the State C&D Plan, it shall not be limited to citing any policies contained in the Plan – regardless of the particular Growth Management Principle under which the policy statement appears.); A list of plans prepared by state agencies under state or federal law, which are reviewed by OPM for consistency with the State C&D Plan prior to their adoption.

Links to such agency plans are intended to provide interested parties with access to more detailed information and policy guidance on various subject matters; A list of examples of performance indicators for measuring progress in implementing the State C&D Plan, including financial indicators; A reference to relevant Principles of Smart Growth, as defined in Public Act 09-230 and listed in Attachment D. This reference is included to assist state agencies in complying with CGS Section 4-37l, which requires agencies to consider whether certain grant applications under their purview comply with some or all of the Principles of Smart Growth; and A map that reflects the geographic areas generally supported by the policies of the particular Growth Management Principle. Each map is based on a limited number of criteria and, therefore, is intended for illustrative purposes only.

In addition to the changes to the text noted above, the Locational Guide Map component of the State C&D Plan has also undergone significant changes. With the priority funding area legislation set to take effect upon adoption of the 2013-2018 State C&D Plan, OPM recognizes that there may be greater interest in the Plan’s Locational Guide Map. As a result, OPM has devoted a separate chapter to the Locational Guide Map, which describes the role of the Map, its use and application, and the criteria for delineating the boundaries of Priority Funding Areas.

Finally, Attachment A lists a number of Examples of State Agency-Administered Programs. This list was developed with input from state agencies and serves as a general guide for agency staff to locate relevant policies for consideration when determining the consistency of their proposed actions. Attachment A is also intended to help fulfill some of the new requirements of CGS Section 16a-27(e), such as identifying potential funding sources and the entity responsible for program implementation.


WHAT SIGNIFICANCE DOES THE MAP HAVE THIS TIME AROUND?

LOCATIONAL GUIDE MAP ("LGM")


Background

CGS Section 16a-31(a) requires state agencies to determine the consistency of their proposed actions with the State C&D Plan. CGS Section 16a-25 defines the State C&D Plan as “the text of such plan and any accompanying locational guide map.” Whenever a state agency is uncertain of a proposed action’s consistency with the State C&D Plan, it shall request an advisory report from OPM under CGS Section 16a-31(b).

Past revisions of the State C&D Plan included policies in both the Plan text and the locational guide map (LGM), in order to assist state agencies in determining the consistency of their proposed actions. The LGM policies included four “development” classifications (i.e., Regional Centers, Neighborhood Conservation Areas, Growth Areas & Rural Community Centers) and four “conservation” classifications (Existing Preserved Open Space, Preservation Areas, Conservation Areas & Rural Lands).

The existence of both text and map policies increasingly caused confusion over recent years, leading some individuals to believe that the LGM alone could be relied upon for determining a proposed action’s consistency with the State C&D Plan. This was never intended to be the case, nor is it the case with this new LGM.


Role of the Locational Guide Map

The new requirements associated with the Priority Funding Area (PFA) statutes have necessitated a shift in the role of the LGM. First and foremost, the LGM no longer reflects its traditional policy-based classifications noted above. Instead, the LGM more generally reflects the predominant existing conditions associated with the map criteria used to delineate the boundaries of PFAs (see below).

In order to more appropriately reflect the diversity of state agency administered programs, such as identified in Appendix A, OPM recommends that the LGM criteria be used to separate PFAs into both Priority Development Areas and Priority Conservation Areas. The intended result of this distinction is a better integration of the LGM with the Growth Management Principles and associated policies in the text.

This new role is intended to serve two purposes: 1) it reinforces the policies contained in the text of the State C&D Plan as the primary determinant of consistency for a proposed action; and 2) it ensures that any LGM reference is a secondary consideration only after a proposed action has been deemed consistent with the policies of the State C&D Plan. This will allow state agencies to operate with sufficient discretion and transparency, as afforded to them in CGS Section 16a-35d.


Use and Application of the Locational Guide Map

After a sponsoring agency determines that a proposed action is consistent with the C&D Plan policies, it shall consult the LGM to determine whether the proposed action falls within a PFA.

The PFA exception process provided in CGS Section 16a-35d recognizes that the scale of the State C&D Plan’s LGM cannot accurately reflect the land use detail of a municipal plan of conservation and development prepared under CGS Section 8-23. The PFA exception process provides a mechanism for state agencies to consider funding projects that have been deemed consistent with the State C&D Plan policies and are locally supported, even though they may not be located in a PFA. CGS Section 16a-35d(c) requires agencies to report annually on grants provided for such projects located outside of a PFA, and the reasons therefore.

While the LGM attempts to make a general distinction between Priority Development Areas and Priority Conservation Areas, the PFA exception process enables an agency such as the Department of Agriculture to support community-based agriculture in urban areas and, likewise, an agency such as the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to support rural community development, when appropriate. Similarly, in areas that do not contain conservation or development criteria (i.e., Undesignated Areas), an agency may also consider funding a proposed action that has been deemed consistent with the policies of the State C&D Plan and has fulfilled the procedural requirements of the PFA exception process. An agency may also exercise its discretion to not fund a project, even one that has been deemed consistent with the State C&D Plan and is located in the appropriate PFA.

Finally, the definition of “growth-related project” in CGS Section 16a-35c provides several examples of state agency actions that are exempt from the PFA requirements, including: maintenance, repair, additions or renovations to existing facilities, acquisition of land for public safety telecommunications towers, parks, conservation and open space, and acquisition of agricultural, conservation and historic easements; funding for certain single or multi-family housing projects and projects that promote fair housing choice and racial and economic integration; projects at existing facilities needed to comply with state environmental or health laws or regulations; school construction projects funded by the Department of Education; libraries, municipally owned property or public buildings used for government purposes.

Locational Guide Map Criteria

Priority Development Areas
Priority Development Areas are delineated based on conditions that exist at the Census Block level, which is the smallest geographical unit delineated by the U.S. Census Bureau. Census Blocks are statistical areas which in Connecticut are typically bounded by visible features, such as streets, roads, streams, and railroad lines. Generally, Census Blocks in denser urban communities are small in area, such as a block in a city that is bounded on all sides by streets. However, Census Blocks in suburban and rural areas may be large, or irregular, and bounded by a variety of features, such as roads or streams. The use of Census Blocks is intended to allow for greater flexibility in the application and use of the LGM reflecting characteristics of an area. For example, a specific Census Block may be partially served by public water and/or sewer, and thus the entire block would appear to be served by these utilities. Any such limitations in the use of Census Blocks in this LGM should not be construed as influencing local land use and zoning decisions or municipal plans of conservation and development; nor should it create any expectation for future utility service where none currently exists.

Priority Conservation Areas

Priority Conservation Areas are delineated based on more natural conditions that reflect environmental or natural resource values. In contrast to the Priority Development Areas, which are based on man-made Census Blocks, Priority Conservation Areas are based on existing environmental conditions, such as soils or elevation, which typically do not have visible boundaries. Like Priority Development Areas, these areas are not defined based on zoning or land use, but rather the presence of natural resources or areas that contribute to the conservation or protection of those resources.

Additional Considerations:

1) Balanced Growth Areas – Areas that meet the criteria of both Priority Development Areas and Priority Conservation Areas are classified as Balanced Growth Areas. State agencies that propose certain actions in these areas must provide balanced consideration of all factors in determining the extent to which it is consistent with the policies of the State C&D Plan. For example, a state-sponsored development action (e.g., business expansion) proposed in a Balanced Growth Area that is also characterized as a Drinking Water Supply Watershed would need to consider the integrity of the drinking water supply in determining the consistency of its proposed action. Likewise, a state-sponsored conservation action (e.g., farmland preservation) in a Balanced Growth Area that includes water and sewer utilities would need to consider the viability of the operation as well as other local and regional interests.

2) Village Growth Areas – In the state’s more rural municipalities, traditional village centers are considered to be Priority Funding Areas. The inclusion of Village Growth Areas is intended to recognize the unique characteristics and development needs of these areas, in accordance with CGS Section 16a-35e. Village Growth Areas are based on the boundaries of the former Rural Community Center classification from the 2005-2010 State C&D Plan. Such boundaries will be modified, as necessary, upon consideration of municipal input and public comments.

3) Undesignated Areas – Undesignated Areas on the LGM are typically rural in nature and lack the criteria necessary for being delineated as either Priority Development or Priority Conservation Areas.

LGM Classifications:

Priority Development Areas are classified by Census Blocks that include:
Note: Additional priority is assigned to a Census Block that meets any of the above criteria and is located within a Distressed Municipality, Targeted Investment, or Public Investment Community

Priority Conservation Areas include: