CT HOUSE SPEAKER - MODEST PROPOSAL LOOKS GOOD
THE "MULTIPLIER" EFFECT: A modest proposal for public-private
partnerships. ANOTHER: Volunteer Fire Department &
Volunteer EMS within the fabric of community.
How to make a legitimate proposal for proper use of non-profit funding
in existing public-private partnerships: Graduation tent example of a direct
benefit; indirect, Lachat? WVFD, EMS indirect? Marketing Weston CT to the world?
FROM ABOUT TOWN INTERVIEW: "How does Weston maximize benefits from volunteer participation?"
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Most graphics used below have "hot links" leading to supporting documentation for the NEW UNOFFICIAL TOWN PLAN 2020.
To be considered...
Senator Boucher Co-Chair. of Transportation,
MALL RE-USE IN CONNECTICUT
It is a new and dramatic look at malls:
Milford Mall Re-use next
Milford Mall Re-use
Trumbull Mall Re-use
FUTURE THINK ECONOMY: Headwinds?
WOULD YOU BELIEVE...
STREET-closing of Greenwich Avenue NEWS!!! https://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Selectmen-meet-Thursday-to-decide-on-Greenwich-15300687.php?src=gthpcp
CAN CONNECTICUT RE-INVENT ITS CITIES?
How does Weston CT fit into the perceived future
for CT as the article in The Courant's business section so
I'D VOTE FOR THIS: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Summit_at_Danbury
WE NOTE THAT THE LUNCH BOX ONLY WENT IN TO BUSINESS IN THE LATE 1970's
The throbbing heart of Weston, Connecticut - "Weston
Center" a pre-history of zoning experiment still in operation 70+ years
Another public-private partnership?
In the First Historic District - P&Z had previously encouraged this location.
Social media strikes again!
REMEMBER "FLASH MOBS" DOING THE MACARENA (outdoor mall, NYC)? FORWARD 2017 AT A MALL IN SPAIN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQuGt-eW7Lk
October 29, 2018 - Selectmen go to Building Committee for a review of project.
URBAN RENEWAL, WESTON STYLE. RELOCATION PLAN?
We took 42 snapshots of Selectmen and Finance Board (which blended the Joint Meeting into a regular Finance agenda)...SWING SPACE needed for Town offices?
With The Wind" novel, movie, longer. Town Hall-FD/EMS project is
now (3rd version) even more a public-private partnership. A good idea!
My question: Can the Communications Center wait one more year? Not, IMHO.
- The Board of Selectmen took care of business with two members present in person, one on speakerphone.
- Special Town Meeting November 1, 2018 at 7pm in Town Hall Meeting
Room to approve summary of new Ordinances and amendments to Town Code
(since FORUM closed without publishing).
- Little League District Champs honored at end of Special Board of Selectmen.
- Then the Board of Finance entertained the pitch for spending down
$5.6 million of the surplus in one fell swoop on a 2-yr. project that would run two major
construction jobs at once at the Town Hall-Fire House complex.
- Plus two executive sessions - one of which was a walk-thru of the projected construction.
- Board of Finance met, too, for regular business as well as the
stuff mentioned above. (No action taken on any items other than
(L) Weston is hard to take in late Spring.
MARKETING THE TOWN OF WESTON - to MILLENIALS? Is this the plan or Plan?
Regional property sales in July 2018:
NOTE: Police Commission considered this item in executive session in August; Commission
on Children and Youth Agenda for June 11, 2018 included an item "JRB" -
which, we think, refers to regional source: Norwalk Youth Services website.
- Easton 23 (none above Weston average),
- Redding 29 (only 2 sales above Weston's average),
- Weston 22. However, Weston averaged $850k per sale.
- Is one these sales an indicator of impending sale of Cobb's Mill Inn?
At Speak Up: 2018 P&Z Chair. was asked "What's up?" In 2019 (r) "How are we doing?" What have we learned from "Citizen Survey?"
A consultant is
usually hired when something the people don't want is planned.
Which is why Weston P&Z and the Board of Selectmen want to do focus
groups and a survey - to perhaps create the impression they know what the
Under the new Charter it is very difficult to stop government in its tracks. Without the threat of court action.
THIS TIMES THE PLANNING PROCESS WILL HAVE THE BENEFIT OF A MAP WITH BOTH BUILDING LOT LINES AND BUILDING FOOTPRINTS (AND MUCH MORE)- thanks to G.I.S.
READY FOR ITS CLOSE UP? https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/connecticut-tax-inequality-cities/532623/
EDUCATION: "Are teachers and school systems obsolete?" About Town asks.
afford more with less, perhaps: https://www.bostonfed.org/publications/new-england-public-policy-center-research-report/2013/the-quest-for-cost-efficient-local-government-in-new-england-what-role-for-regional-consolidation.aspx
curse or not, we do live in interesting times. "Watch out Weston!" Any land left to develop? Mostly Town owned lands! Change is hard - both positive and negative.
CENTRALITY IS THE WORD:
The School Campus - Town Hall/Library/Fire Station - Shopping
Center/Gas Station/P.O. together in the walkable "center" of Weston CT
We used the U.S. Census of Retail Trade to confirm some trends in New Bedford, MA (not shown here).
NEW TOWNS CAME FIRST.
EARLY ON IN GRADUATE SCHOOL I WAS STILL THINKING ABOUT ARCHITECTURAL SOLUTIONS TO MAKING A PERFECT CITY. HISTORIC
AND ARCHITECTURAL LAND MARKS IS HUDSON NEW YORK AND DESIGNING A
PLAN TO MAKE HUDSON BASE ITS GROWTH UPON ITS RICH ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY
WAS WHERE I ENDED UP UPON COMPLETING THIS TRAINING.
STREET CORNERS CAME NEXT...AND NOW RETURN AS WE BEGIN OUR RESEARCH PHASE
FOR AN ABOUT TOWN VERSION OF THE WESTON TOWN PLAN FOR 2020.
FAST FORWARD TO PHD STUDIES...I BEGAN RESEARCH BY VISITING THE CONCEPT
OF HUMAN INTERACTION USING ONE CORNER OF MAIN STREET, WESTPORT, AND THE
PEDESTRIAN MALLS WERE WHERE WE SETTLED.
THIS BECAME AN ORIGINAL IDEA CONSIDERED ACADEMICALLY "ORIGINAL" AS WE EXPANDED IT NATIONWIDE. TEN MEDIUM SIZED CITIES THAT CLOSED STREETS TO TRAFFIC TO CREATE DOWNTOWN PEDESTRIAN MALLS
IN THE MID 1960'S, WAS OUR TOPIC. MEASURE LAND USE CHANGES IN ALL
FLOORS OF BUILDINGS IN MALL STREET, PARALLEL STREET AND CROSS
STREET. FIVE YEARS BEFORE MALL OPENED, FIVE YEARS AFTER THE MALL
ABOUT TOWN RESEARCH - CHAPTER WAS INCLUDED IN SHOPPING CENTERS U.S.A.:
Finally, an idea who's time is now - redevelopment. 21st Century style.
BREAKING NEWS...TO SOME
CT doesn't have any real cities, so why should it have a professional planning program in any of it universities?
H O W I S W E S T O
N G O I N
G T O B
E A B L E T O G R O
W ? S H O U L D I T ? A R
E W E A N I S L A N
I remember the original CT 21st Century study suggesting Connecticut would become an economic cul de sac ("dead end"). John Rowland was Governor then. The "finalists" in Amazon Lottery are:
Austin, TX; Boston; Chicago; Columbus, OH;
Dallas; Denver; Indianapolis; Los Angeles;
Miami; Montgomery County, MD.; Nashville;
Newark; New York; Northern Virginia;
Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Raleigh; Toronto;
Whidbey Island is a place I have always used to measure Weston against. As the years go by, is CT economy becoming "right sized" a good thing?
"WESTON IS ALL ABOUT SCHOOLS" AT LEAST THAT IS WHAT EVERYONE HAS ALWAYS THOUGHT...https://nypost.com/2018/09/29/nycs-school-diversity-plan-could-lead-to-another-white-flight/
"Strategic Planning" meeting of subcommittee considers town video as a possible thing to do in the future.
What's the story for Weston on: Births (real and projected), article on it,
home sales...and here's some "moving news" that puts CT as #4 state for
out-migration (from 2017 United Van Lines data). We note
according to A.P., Illinois, New Jersey and New York are ahead of us:
WHERE DOES WESTON FIT INTO THE BROADER PLAN FOR CONNECTICUT? HOW ABOUT BEAUTIFICATION?
Weston's Beautification Committee: Revival of the "Town Green" concept.
the "Rites of Spring?" This Commission for the Arts event took
place...at the Town Hall green. And the Memorial Day Parade
finishes there, too.
WHAT'S AT PLAY AS THE PLANNING AND ZONING COMMISSION BEGINS UPDATE OF TOWN PLAN IN 2017...A ROBIN HOOD MOMENT?
things can get confusing, it is important to note that it was the
Legislature that got rid of "County Government (1)" And it was a
Constitutional Convention (2) that did a lot of other things.
SOURCE: O.L.R. report
ABOUT TOWN COLUMN THAT DIDN'T GET PUBLISHED ELSEWHERE
December 20, 2018
by MARGARET WIRTENBERG
Weston has it made in the shade!
We made the grade! As an example of a place too rich to be deserving of any money from the State of Connecticut.
Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Ben Barnes said it
recently, but I think our Board of Finance had figured as much
already. Mr. Barnes will soon be leaving office, by the way, along
with the present Governor.
In the same breath Mr. Barnes grouped Greenwich and Westport together
with Weston as examples of communities not warranting financial support
from the State’s coffers.
Toney Greenwich, glamorous Westport, and our beautiful but relatively secret Town of Weston are in the same boat.
Mr. Barnes went on to assert in connection with municipal services that
the Legislature should “compel mergers,” i.e., regionalization, while
perhaps providing financial incentives for towns to do so. This is
the “kind of big idea” that Connecticut needs, he said.
Regionalizing police and health services, as well as school districts,
were clearly included in what he had in mind. All of which seems
to me to be entirely consistent with the thinking of the outgoing
At Annual Town Budget Meeting a few years ago I went to the microphone
and proposed an $800,000 plus cut in the school budget. Not that I was
in favor of it; in fact I have always been a strong supporter of
Weston’s school budgets. But it was my way of doing what Paul
Revere did, namely calling attention to an impending threat, in this
case a specific threat of reduced funding from the State.
At A.T.B.M. it is possible to make cuts to the budget, but only if the
quorum requirement for that Meeting is met. If it is not met,
essentially there is no meeting. In either case a Referendum is
held shortly thereafter, and if the Referendum rejects the bottom lines
of Town or School or Capital budgets, the Board of Finance can make
downward adjustments beyond those they may have made prior to A.T.B.M.
The Annual Town Meeting process is still the manner in which more than a
hundred of Connecticut’s towns adopt a budget. Many have
Referenda as well, similar to Weston.
O.P.M. Secretary Barnes recently implied that the Malloy administration
intended not only to strip funding from Weston schools, but to force
municipalities to pay for a hefty portion of teacher retirement
costs. Fortunately that has not happened, yet.
Unfortunately, however, the gains the State’s majority party achieved in
the recent election do not bode well in these and other respects, as
far as Weston is concerned. It’s not difficult to envision the new
administration adopting the position that if towns wish to keep their
school districts independent they will have to take on the costs of
teacher retirement themselves.
And it won’t stop there. Trust me. A movement toward “one
size fits all” regionalism likely won’t be good news for the
Weston-Westport Health District, for example.
The outgoing administration did not have the votes to foist the brunt of
the State’s financial woes upon its municipalities. And to say
how dare one town be different from another. But just wait!
WESTON CENTER TO SUFFER FATE OF OTHER DOWN TOWN CENTERS?
IT SHOULD COME AS NO SURPRISE THAT THIS TOPIC GOES WITH MOOD MUSIC
WHAT WESTON MEANS TO SOME FOLKS
SOME USES HAVE EXPANDED, OTHERS DISAPPEARED. THE LUNCH BOX OPENED IN THE LATE 1970'S...
Weston Shopping Center, built before zoning, used to have a cleaners and it is
said, a barbershop (before my time). As well as a soda fountain in
WESTON GROWTH: In the 38 years I've lived here we have gone from two traffic lights and one blinking light to four traffic lights and one blinking light.
How do we measure "growth?"
INTERSECTIONS: DO WE MEAN FOR VEHICULAR TRAFFIC OR HUMAN CONTACT? OR T.O.D.?
WE THINK THAT WESTON, CONNECTICUT CAN SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE OF FUTURE NEIGHBORHOOD PLANNING.
THEN THERE IS THE CENTRAL EDUCATIONAL CAMPUS - WALKABLE TO ALL EVENTS AS WELL AS THE LUNCH BOX.
And guess what? In Weston there is a Center of Town connoted
by a traffic light or two and a blinker - with churches and the seat of
government...what about centralized education (1-1-18 CT MIRROR)?
STREETCORNERS: THE UBIQUITOUS URBAN FOCUS
Great news!!! 48 Norfield Road sells to developer who seeks to
preserve historic value in this the First Historic District in Weston CT
PUBLIC AND SEMI-PUBLIC LAND USES
And a tall symbol of Weston preserved by the people not once but twice...how many times has a Special Town Meeting rejected its purchase? (WARNING: Trick question.)
LIBRARY NOW OPEN AGAIN - AND LOOKS GREAT WITH ITS UPGRADES!!! ATTENDANCE NUMBERS UP!!!
THE HEART OF WESTON
THE INTELLECTUAL HEART OF TOWN IS WESTON LIBRARY. VOLUNTEER GOVERNMENT, VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT, E.M.S. AND THE MAP
There has always been, since the first Town Plan, drawn when the
Town started feeling like a town and not just a suburb of Wesport. In our "central part of town" there is pedestrian life and the only sidewalks in the whole town. Of course, we said that before
And Sept. 10, 2018, reported by the Norwalk HOUR...below...
AN IDEA FOR WHEN FULL SIDEWALK PLAN IS COMPLETED EVENTUALLY (NORWALK HOUR, 9-10-18)?
Potential for an agreement for joint use of parking spaces.
But of course, New Canaan does have a train station parking problem...as well as parking meters and meter maids.
We pause and reflect on "externalities"....
AS MENTIONED AT THE TOP OF THIS PAGE, OUR SPECIALTY IS KNOWING ABOUT CITY PLANNING
The idea that downtown is coming back may or may not be true, but for sure suburban malls are definitely in the tank, taking
a hit from the internet and those who do their shopping online.
What is the impact on future development of political corruption and
other faults one can point to in government programs? What is the
social impact of more gambling facilities located in cities? Another example of the new paradigm.
Shopping in person at a mall or a downtown is for the rich.
Shopping for food and eating out will become the central driver of neighborhood rebirth...
If there are young, medium and older people living in town, do they interact?
HISTORY: Forest, open space and farm land preservation in CT.
AN UNFUNDED MANDATE?
A good one. Assessors have the power to enforce 490: https://www.ct.gov/deep/lib/deep/forestry/landowner_assistance/forestland_taxation/guidance_foresters_assessors.pdf
DEEP's description Forest Classification description of 490
FROM DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE
CT rewards land preservation (25 acres plus last time I looked) for open space/forest land (i.e. Nature Conservancy) as well as working farms. https://www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=1366&q=259834
ZONING: EASTON 3-ACRE/1-ACRE ZONES, WESTON UNIFORM 2-ACRES
Easton has "working" farms (click to enlarge). Weston has forest land. At right, our own watercolor "In the Nature Conservancy" to which Lachat Town Farm links.
OPINION: PLANS BY OUT OF TOWN CONSULTANTS ALWAYS OPEN THE DOOR TO CHANGE...
Weston has done a COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
since 1987, without consultants (the first update by P&Z, designed
as an "Action Plan"). A noted traffic planner was employed first, to do a "Road Study" to create a map of buildings and lot lines of subdivided property. - No such map had existed previously.
UPDATE FAIRFIELD COUNTY: http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/TheHour/Default.aspx?olv-cache-ver=22.214.171.124
NEITHER CONNECTICUT'S ECONOMY NOR POPULATION IS AS PRODUCTIVE AS IT WAS IN THE 20TH CENTURY
The "greatest generation" that had children in abundance is aging out. Has
technological advance substituted "skilled" workers? Is Connecticut now a "cul de sac?"
Connecticut has reinvented its economy over the last hundred years or so, illustrations above:
- from manufacturing, say, guns (Colt factory on national historic
registry) or hats, or even using Halloween masks for political
- Having Hartford be the "Insurance Capital" of America and the state
be home for the underwater and engines for above water to military
- to hedge fund capital of America.
- Negative population growth is our latest "opportunity area" to exploit!
WHAT'S NEXT? IDEA: THINK OF CONNECTICUT AS A CITY WITH 169 NEIGHBORHOODS
you know that CT is one of or the most densely populated states in the
nation? We are told by A.P.A. about the rise of the city as mecca for
the newest generation.
How big does a city-metropolis have to be qualify as "urban center?"
STRENGTHENING CONNECTICUT'S SMALL CITIES - OR ARE WE REALLY JUST ONE CITY?
BRIDGEPORT CBD update in the key of...state-wide renewal: https://ctmirror.org/2019/09/08/bridgeport-can-learn-from-springfields-revitalization/
Paul Newman, perhaps misquoted , put it differently.
we say that whether under Democrat or Republican administrations in
Bridgeport, the political system is its Achilles heel. You can bet on
Onion Barn example of why Weston is a safe place (if we care about this historic feature, the big stuff is really getting enforced): New meaning to "no justice?"
WHEN IS LAX ENFORCEMENT OF ZONING (AS IN 2016 [?]
OAKLAND FIRE CAUSED BY NON-INDUSTRIAL USES IN AN INDUSTRIAL BUILDING,
NO PERMITS WE ASSUME) THE SAME AS ENCOURAGING DEATH AND
DESTRUCTION? GARBAGE COLLECTION CONTRACT MISTAKE WORTH HALF A MILLION DOLLARS IN ANSONIA.
As far as we know, Houston is the only place that has developed without
some form of zoning. In a way, Weston doesn't have any either -
well, it has one zone and everything else is by Special Permit (or
pre-existing such as the Center, that does not comply with "Shopping
Center" zone - impervious surfaces just one way it is out of spec).
And then there is "redesigning" the landscape to beat the zoning regulations: http://www.greenwichtime.com/local/article/Greenwich-P-Z-considers-new-house-size-regs-11718773.php
FYI ITEMS TO WATCH OUT FOR AS CT QUESTIONS ITS QUALIFICATIONS A S A "METROPOLIS": HOME RULE DOCTRINE FROM CT CONSTITUTION LINK - WORDING LEFT; A.C.I.R. REPORTS ON THE RIGHT.
HIGH DENSITY OR WAS THAT HIGH DESTINY?
It is instructive to watch C-SPAN to find out
what the intelligentsia is cooking up. For example, why should
people be allowed to have different incomes since they amassed wealth,
property and privilege wrongfully?
One thing perhaps forgotten...riots on private property as opposed to street corners have consequences.
Finally, Channel 12 sums it up in CT: http://connecticut.news12.com/news/police-charge-slew-of-people-following-ct-mall-fights-1.12813759
And a couple of hours later: http://www.courant.com/community/manchester/hc-manchester-mall-fight-arrrests-1228-20161227-story.html
Unless this is "fake news" we think MALLS are gathering-places for mobs, not just "flash mobs" - is this more BLM (not "bureau of land management")???
"MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) -- State and
local police have responded to a melee at a Connecticut shopping mall
and arrested several people...Davis says authorities are still trying to sort out what happened..."
Elsewhere in Ct the struggles go on...
MAJESTIC AND THE POLI TO BE REVIVED IN MULTI-USE PROJECT? DEVELOPMENT PROPOSALS FAR AND WIDE.
We note that the projects in Fairfield County mentioned in this article are located in areas with infrastructure to support it.
IDEAS THAT CAME AND WENT...AND ARE COMING AROUND AGAIN? FROM WHICH DIRECTION?
THE TOWN'S STRATEGIC PLAN PROPOSAL PART ONE CONCLUSION FROM A FEW YEARS AGO - YES OR NO NOW?
CITY WORKERS MUST LIVE IN THE CITY?
We thought this already was the law...in lots of places this is the rule.
TRANSIT ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT: FIRST YOU NEED TRANSIT OF SOME KIND...
REMEMBER UTOPIA? HERE IT COMES AGAIN...
The original developer should have called it "Utopia Now?" Actually, it took a long time to clean up the land...rebirth?
The concept was ahead of its time. Financing for it fell apart . But most significantly, I think, also, regional thinking had not caught up to the process.
Speaking of ventures gone away...one
effort with an honest developer, sophisticated planning/thinking, public
involvement from the beginning that had bad economic timing.
WESTON DISAPPEARING? HISTORY OF GROWTH. GREAT IDEA, STEVE! KNOWLEDGE CORRIDORS VIA TRAIN LINES.
CT owns the tracks themselves/land (not Amtrak or Metro North trains)
in CT, can we strengthen service with rail-commuting in these
"corridors" and not have to DRIVE on I-95 etc.?
Something to think about - HB 5045
note that this map (l) was presented at P&D (Planning &
Development Joint Committee of the C.G.A.) Public Hearing 3-16-18.
NOTE: Weston 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.
This does not mean anything by itself because as the Commissioner Klein
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
Studied landfills as reusable areas, first in NYC (where, incidentally, our proposal for a park ended up as a golf course next to the Throgs Neck) and then in Norwalk...
SO IS THIS A LAND VALUE MATTER? IF THE VOLCANO IS UNDER THE WATER, DOES IT MAKE A GREATER AREA ABOVE WATER AFTER AN ERUPTION?
Are you convinced?
7 Reasons To Save Hartford
Hartford Courant Editorial
February 2, 2017
Home values, quality of schools numbers one and two.
"The Metropolitan District Commission recently showed what it could mean
to other towns' water and sewage bills if Hartford can't pay its $11
million bill. The town of West Hartford would have to chip in an extra
$7 million and probably much more, according to officials there."
And a further unfunded mandate parade of the horribles goes on...this is number three.
Number four is piling on...bonding will be more expensive for every town as "risk" increases.
Urban decay will spread - number five.
It is the right thing to do (bail out of Hartford by its region) - number six.
And number seven is to make a strong urban core for the region.
Editorial in full:
State Of Sprawl:
Helter-Skelter Development Is Chewing Up Connecticut's Landscape At An
Appalling Rate And Diminishing Our Quality Of Life In Myriad Ways
Hartford Courant Editorial
October 9, 2005
Tolland and Hartford were going in opposite directions.
Tolland was on a development tear that would add more than 1,000 homes
through 2004. Hartford, on the other hand, began a demolition program
to reduce its inventory of more than 800 abandoned buildings...