Please remember that this page is solely the opinion of "About Weston" and unofficial information.




2015 TO BRING TALK ABOUT:  T H E  H U B


What a great time to be in Weston if you are a planner!

OUR PLAN FROM 2005 HERE;  BASED UPON COLLECTED DATA, MEETINGS NOTES, THIS IS WHAT WE UNDERSTAND IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING:

GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE BEGUN AS THE AGENT FOR IMPLEMENTATION FOR TOWN PLAN?
Positive open space benefits of economic downturn elsewhere...
REINVENTING WESTON
Can State Environmental Regulations help or not?
What does the Census 2010 tell us?
Lighting the night skies?


In planning, everything's related!

For more, click here...




Bethel says "no" to new Police Station because public not on board with size (size = $$ per sqft).

2015 vote in Weston?  If Fire Department volunteers are in favor, it may pass - the longer it takes to come to a vote, the more it will become a budget issue indirectly.  JMO.

2014:  How you tell which meetings are being held for which purpose?  Well, if security for school children is involved, doors are closed...and if something is being discussed that is desired to be kept public but not TOO public, it happens at meetings not televised on Town TV.




AT THE BOARD OF SELECTMEN MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2014
When is an item on the Town Plan Implementation page and when does it appear at "Central Part of Town" or "GFC?" 



MEMORANDA OF UNDERSTANDING: Besides re-appointments, a land matter was also taken care of with Town Attorney present.  This was the "MOU" meeting.
About Town stood to ask if after the year of testing and measuring what buffers might be provided, why can't the Town develop buffering ordinances on both light and sound -  built around what they've learned during the stadium lights year of experience?  




What is Memorial Day all about?  Remember.   Town Engineer remembers about "Lake Gomeau" and the swimming pool effect of drainage from the new Fire House (r).
And by the way, a "Sunshine Report" from the New Haven REGISTER, which may or may not, or we guess it will, improve after new Police Station is built!
 

In Weston it is about having a good time.
Memorial Day 4-Day weekend of regional rides, according to Daily Weston!

Various plans all coming together for Memorial Day!  P&Z meeting at Town Hall (8:15pm for the Stadium lights 8-24)...PTO Fair:  Where will the rides get stored after Police Station parking lot is built?


AT THE BUILDING COMMITTEE...


WESTON HAS NOT BEEN RURAL FOR A LONG TIME...SINCE 2001.



BRAVO!!!  First time we have seen plans for new Police Station!  I wonder what Dave would have thought?
Just what we thought the traffic flow should be like, with a minor alteration or two - over emphasis on big new parking lot (too much impervious surface) - a work in progress!



BEST MEETING ON THIS SUBJECT SINCE...ONION BARN WAS AT ISSUE A LONG TIME AGO...

POLICE STATION ACCESS ON 57 FOR PUBLIC;  REST OF POTENTIAL PROJECT NOT ON THE TABLE

Early review at Historic District Commission Monday at 2pm went well;  tomorrow, Wednesday, at Building Committee the new plans shown first!

The two big issues for the project are moving the Onion Barn and how to phase the renovations/additions at Town Hall. How much opposition each draws and who has the power to decide the plan's fate (plan for the Police Station, in this case) is a matter of how much anybody in town cares about it.

Where is the project now?  Why is it or is it not a good idea for Weston to pursue?  What is the plan - to make the Police Station the new face of Weston - "Welcome to Weston, CT, home of the Weston Police Department."  Sounds like a bad remake of "The Stepford Wives."

I think we have to rethink how we brand this project - the overall plan for the Central Part of Town needs a map;  what is the cost of any of this might be a question some have.  Where will the money come from?   How about the cost of not beginning the Central Part of Town Plan - that is my concern.  Without an overall plan we will waste effort and money fighting battles that need not happen.   

At the Historic District Commission meeting at 2pm Monday, a preliminary presentation (not the latest drawings - in process) by First Selectman, Police Chief and member of the Police Commission show access to a new Police Department FOR THE PUBLIC ONLY from Weston Road, pending approval by the State Traffic Commission.   If the permit claims no more access than presently uses it - or just a bit more - why move the Onion Barn at all?  This is an old structure and perhaps not in good enough condition - plus the foundation is new in its present location.

And although we can't quite be sure from the schematics we were given, looks as if Town Hall is almost doubling but via use of "lower levels."  Good luck to that, based upon the experiences the last time Town Hall was expanded...with expanding by half again as many square feet of rooftop and 100% increase in impervious surfaces for parking and access to the new Police Station, some heavy duty detention-retention structure will have to be designed to keep runoff from entering drainage in Route 57 - and flooding the septic systems at the Shopping Center across Weston Road.





Why do we follow this Committee on the Town Plan Implementation Page?  Should P&Z be involved in longer range planning?
GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE:  Superintendent of Schools, member of Board of Ed, former Board of Finance member, First Selectwoman, Director of Finance, Bd of Ed, Bd of Finance,
Board of Finance Chair., Director of Facilities, Bd of Ed, , Building Committee Chair., Town Administrator.  Commission on Aging Chair. in audience.  Is Senior Center going to move to the other side of Town?  Nope.  Didn't work out.  They will get an extra day and more parking, if things work out...



The Onion Barn in the way of progress?

New Weston police station: Architect to draw up schematics
Weston FORUM
By Kimberly Donnelly on May 2, 2014

Plans in the works to build a new police station perpendiculare to the Norfield Firehouse (at right) might also include moving the Onion Barn (at left, behind police vehicle) about 20 feet to make room for egress onto Weston Road. —Kimberly Donnelly photo

Plans in the works to build a new police station perpendicular to the Norfield Firehouse (at right) might also include moving the Onion Barn (at left, behind police vehicle) about 20 feet to make room for egress onto Weston Road. —Kimberly Donnelly photo

The Building Committee and the Police Commission are working collaboratively, with “a level of oversight” from the first selectman, to complete plans for a new police station in Weston.

“We’ve seen some great progress, said First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

Ms. Weinstein reported to the Board of Selectmen last week that plans are moving forward with a design that will orient a new station at the west end of the Norfield fire station, parallel to Weston Road and perpendicular to the firehouse.

The new station will be set back with a sally port and egress in the middle so that the public will see the front of the station facing Weston Road.

Having a sight line from the main road solves one of the problems frequently encountered with the current police station, Ms. Weinstein said — that of people not knowing where the police station is and not being able to find it.

Architect Brian Humes has been asked to draw up schematics, Ms. Weinstein said, the next step in the process. “We’re very excited that we’ve moved it to this point,” she said.
Space needs

Mr. Humes of Jacunski Humes Architects was hired nearly a year ago to do a space needs assessment for the police department. He determined the police and emergency dispatch need approximately 14,300 square feet of space, just under 6,000 square feet more than they currently have.

Mr. Humes’ report takes into consideration the current department size, the town’s current and projected population, crime statistics, staff, and vehicles. He used that data to determine space recommendations for a facility that will serve the town for the next 50 or so years.

Construction costs for the new station are expected to run about $500 per square foot, making the cost of the new building approximately $7 million-plus.

“That’s the very general number,” Ms. Weinstein said. With proper schematics in hand from Mr. Humes, the Building Committee will be able to begin “tweaking” the project in order to estimate costs more accurately and save money wherever possible, she said. “That’s what our Building Committee is fantastic at.”
Onion Barn

There are still many details to work out, Ms. Weinstein said, including parking and reconfiguring the egress from the police station.

One option under consideration is moving the historic Weston Onion Barn about 20 feet to accommodate an egress.

Any changes to the structure would need approval by both Planning and Zoning and by the Historic District Commission, since it is within an historic district.

Ms. Weinstein said she’s aware of the historical and community significance of the Onion Barn and she doesn’t want anyone to think the town is planning to get rid of it.

“I have said I will never be the first selectman that authorizes the teardown and demolition of the Onion Barn,” she said.

However, she added, because relocating the building about 20 feet would make a better, safer egress for the police station and would improve safety and parking at the baseball field behind Hurlbutt Elementary School, “it’s definitely something worth looking at.”

Plans might also include using grass and natural pavers at the entrance where the Onion Barn now sits, which would also be an improvement over the current “dust bowl or mud pit situation,” Ms. Weinstein said.

Once the schematics are completed, the project can be put out to bid. It eventually must be brought to a Town Meeting for approval.

Before that happens, Ms. Weinstein said, she would like to get all the proper permits approved. “And, of course, we need to figure out how we’re going to pay for it,” she said.

The space vacated by the police at town hall will likely be renovated to accommodate other town departments. Land use and social services are currently housed at the Town Hall Annex, a temporary building expected to go off-line in about five years.

The town will need to decide if it wants to include renovation of the town hall space as part of the same building project.




GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE 3-20-14 MEETING NOTES - (L-R) THE COMMITTEE, OUR LAND USE MAP FROM 2008 - COMMITTEE MEMBERS AT THE TABLE...MORE TO COME?



What happened Thursday, March 20, 2014, 7:45am Global Facilities meeting?

Plenty.   Fortunately, the Weston FORUM editor attended this 7:45am meeting and  will report it in the newspaper!  "About Town" spoke up supporting another who asked for P&Z to be in the loop if not actually on the Committee.

A meeting of the minds among Selectmen, Police Commission, Board of Education, Board of Finance, Building Committee, advisor, Commission on Aging in the audience as was the Communication Center Director. 

No one taking notes except for Weston FORUM editor and "About Town" - not being videotaped either, I assumed - or maybe it was?   It should have been, in retrospect - because it was an excellent meeting and there should be a record for review...but this was advertised as an early meeting with many more to come in a process that will stretch for years...more "About Town" comment below:


WAS I DREAMING OR DID I HEAR THE POLICE PLANNER PLAN REPRESENTED AS MY PREFERRED PLAN?


OCT. 25, 2013 GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE:  WE STAY FOR TOWN HALL- POLICE EXPANSION OF TOWN HALL COMPLEX STRUCTURES

WHAT HAPPENED AT OCT. 25, 2013 EARLY MORNING MEETING?
Great stuff!, well run.  Police and safety issues vis a vis communications center and bringing town hall employees back to town hall.


THE PLANS AT THIS STAGE:  Please note the connection to this article about consolidation in CT...
Below are photos of unofficial plan - developed prior to costing or even design development phase.  Three choices for new P.D. - all in the Town Hall-Fire Department-Library...access appears key to me right now - but once we get to design development, after the Schools come in with their study in January 2014, these ideas may change.


First step, access and parking for each of the three alternatives.  Very different ideas - no change to shared parking in two, access from Weston Road addded for two, new P.D. building and separate parking an access only for P.D. emergencies for the third.  JMO.


Pictures of the meeting below, too.







June 25, 2013 Special Town Meeting 48 Norfield Rd
Says "yes" but at a lower price than agreed to...no deal, as it turned out.


What happened Friday June 21, 2013 at 10:30am, Global Facilities Committee at Town Hall Meeting Room.  Finance Board on speakerphone - our notes:  Regarding 48 Norfield Road, the Global Facilities Committee met Friday at 10:30am in the Town Hall Meeting Room and heard some strong support for purchasing the property and then engaging in a community-wide planning study of what to do in the central part of town, similar to what Simsbury did some years ago.  Agenda notes below:

GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE AGENDA ONLINE
FRIDAY JUNE 21, 2013 10:30 AM - before noon.
TOWN HALL MEETING ROOM
1.  Discussion/decision regarding the potential uses of 48 Norfield Road - no voting.
2.  Discussion/decision regarding Town owned land - preliminary map displayed without legend - colors meant nother, or so it was reported.  Altho' the Fromson-Strassler property was significantly different.
3.  Discussion/decision regarding school and town facilities - part of first discussion


NOT OPEN GOVERNMENT, jmo

GLOBAL FACILITIES COMMITTEE FORMED LATER IN 2013 AND NOW HAVING OPEN PUBLIC MEETINGS
First open meeting was Monday morning June 10, 2013 at 7:45AM in Town Hall Meeting Room below - follow their efforts in full here, reverse chronological order.


"NEXT MEETING" WAS TO BE IN LATE JUNE AFTER DECISION ABOUT 48 NORFIELD ROAD IS MADE...NOPE, THERE WAS A MEETING ON FRIDAY BEFORE THE SPECIAL TOWN MEETING!
Our impression, while initially positive, takes note that their was a threat to open space the Town owns if it is not permanently preserved.  "Landbanked" purchases such as Moore Property has town hall investigating the legal standing of "passive open space" conditions.  The map of town land shown is very preliminary and not at all accurate - taking the "map block and lot" number of "town" property and putting it on a 1"=600' scale blank map with no legend explaining why Fromson Strassler was a different color and style from all the others.
GLOBAL FACILITIES' first open meeting Monday June 10, 2013 at 7:45am, Town Hall Meeting Room
What should the goals now be?  What's on the table?  What are some of the variables?
At this point there was a discussion of properties owned by the town of Weston that they might sell - Jarvis, Davis Hill open space, Lachat, Keene Park, Morehouse.Farm Park, Fromson Strassler.  A discussion of affordable housing came up briefly.  Strong opinions were voices regarding:  no more new buildings, move the bus garage.  Need for coordination of consultants' work mentioned. Concentrate on new revenue sources, bearing in mind that Weston will not be getting any larger - keep budgets and new projects in check.  Also, an addition to historic building (48 Norfield) might do the trick if the drainage issue can be resolved.

Weston Library is independent of the Town - should part of the Library be considered for any future town use?

------------------

In case you were wondering, Town Meeting has said yes many times to buying land...no Committees involved, Board of Selectmen did it, the review and other calculations, via Executive Sessions.
FROM A TOWN PLAN UPDATE PAGE - http://www.aboutweston.com/landuse99.htm

...PROPOSED LANDBANKING BY TOWN OF WESTON:  Special Town Meeting, January 9, 2003:  Town Meeting voters approved this action. Fromson-Strassler   gets a "yes" from both P&Z and Board of Finance (Special Town Meeting January 9, 2003);  P&Z says "yes" to both but Board of Finance says "no" to part of former Maurice Moore estate--then reverses itself and says "yes" after Town staff does more research and legal wording is changed by prospective seller...and Town Meeting agreed after discussion of both - standing count needed for Fromson-Strassler (not close when the votes were tallied);  voice vote all that was needed for Moore OK!



(L) FIRST SELECTMAN OF KILLINGWORTH REACTS TO THIS - NOW ENTERING ITS LAST STEP BEFORE IMPLEMENTATION.

KILLINGWORTH'S DEGRADED STREAMS (C); (R) WHITE ARE NON-IMPACTED AREAS ON L.I.S. - NON-POINT SOURCE POLLLUTION NOW PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE. 

CT Water Quality Standards, Section. 303 (c) (1) "Triennial Review" for EPA Region 1.

Killingworth is inland, above Madison (on the Sound).  Like Weston is to Westport.

Although the First Selectman noted that catch basins on roads were few and far between (because all they have is trees and woods and parks), she was not pleased by the one size fits all DEEP effort. A blow up from the Killingworth Town website, showing DE(E)P surface water quality, from their 2008 Town Plan, (C) - also appears as unimpaired on DEEP map of Regional Basins, at right in white. 

Surface water quality is an indicator of what might be coming next for groundwater.  And by the way, we note that DEEP has not stopped CTDOT from ordering localities to use salt in their sand for winter treatment of roads!  A reversal of what used to be the ideal.





Town Center in rural CT trial effort...
"Natural run off" in town center, paved over for parking lot.

State slow to embrace new approach to storm runoff pollution
Jan Ellen Spiegel, CT MIRROR
October 18, 2011

TORRINGTON -- Kim Barbieri, the zoning and wetlands enforcement officer here, points to what looks like a gravel-topped garden set in a steep concrete sidewalk in this city's old downtown. There is one cherry tree growing in it.

"If I took a gallon of water and dumped it right here, it would not spill off of this," she said. "It would just go straight in."

And that, surprisingly, is a big deal.

The gravel in fact is called FlexiPave, a carpet-like aggregate of recycled rubber and gravel. Underneath is soil engineered at Cornell University that includes large stone, compost and mortar. The two allow the tree to grow without its roots heaving the concrete and water to filter naturally through the ground, a process that will clean it before it winds up in the nearby Naugatuck River, which leads to the Housatonic, which eventually dumps into Long Island Sound.

This is an example of what's known in the current green lexicon as low impact development, or LID. It covers a host of techniques, zoning and engineering practices designed to more environmentally handle stormwater runoff, which in Connecticut has a major impact the water quality in the Sound.

Simple concept, yes? But in practice here, LID gets hit-and-miss attention with minimal funding, even though there is a demonstration project on the state Capitol grounds. Unlike the sweeping policy, coordination and financing mechanism the state now has for energy, communities and even state agencies interested in LID are pretty much on their own.

"The practice in the region is really advancing; just in five years there's a significant amount of momentum building," said Robert Roseen, director of the University of New Hampshire's Stormwater Center which researches and advises on the subject and has become the go-to source for the northeast, if not the nation, on LID-related matters.

"Connecticut certainly is not in the forefront on that," he said. "You'd think the interest would be enormous considering the Long Island Sound issues."

The FlexiPave in Torrington was installed as part of a 10-community Municipal Land Use Evaluation pilot project in the Farmington River watershed that, if not for a $500,000 fine against Hamilton Sundstrand in 2007 for environmental violations, might have never happened. The money went to help the communities take steps towards changing how they handle stormwater, from regulations going forward to actual projects.

But with the money spent, about the best the state can offer at the moment is advice and encouragement along with examples of LID that are installed around the Capitol in Hartford, including porous pavement and small rain gardens.

"We've directly worked with 10 towns and we're hoping that other towns will see this, will talk to someone from another town and we just hope they contact us and ask for additional information," said MaryAnn Nusom Haverstock, the supervising environmental analyst with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection handling the project. "The hope is we've planted some seed money here but it will go much, much further."

The general function of LID is to limit the time water spends on paved surfaces collecting oils and other contaminants by dealing with it as close to its source as possible. Techniques typically include retention ponds that allow runoff to filter naturally instead of through expensive piping and catch basins, narrower roads without curbs, rain gardens that direct runoff for horticultural purposes and use of pervious concrete, asphalt and pavers that also mean less piping and more natural filtration.

Researchers like Roseen, advocates, communities that have begun limited LID as well as private adopters point out that many of these are less expensive than conventional engineering, and even the ones with higher upfront costs in the long term are likely to save money. Some, however, like certain pervious pavements, can have higher maintenance costs.

Stormwater management is driven by performance standards for how clean runoff must ultimately be as dictated by the federal Clean Water Act. States implement the standards through what are known as stormwater permits. How water is cleaned generally is a function of local zoning laws and land use policies.

Tightening regulatory requirements typically has been the impetus behind zoning and land use changes, including those considered "green." Municipalities, Roseen said, are unlikely to embrace LID without some kind of regulatory push.

Connecticut is just finishing a two-year process - several years late environmental advocates point out -- to revise its stormwater permit regulations in anticipation of tighter requirements expected from the Environmental Protection Agency in another year or so. Some of the Connecticut permit manuals will now include appendices covering LID, but they are guidance, not requirements.

Advocates and others say that's not enough; that what the state needs is an overarching LID policy goal.

"A more cohesive message from the state to towns would be helpful," said Michael Dietz, the water resources educator for the Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials (NEMO) program run through the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension to help municipalities manage land use and resources. "It is a little bit difficult. People don't like heavy-handed regulations."

Within state government, agencies are encouraged -- not required -- to use LID. The Department of Transportation, with ongoing new work and continuous repair projects even in difficult economic times that have stymied much of the new construction for which LID is most cost-effective, uses LID when it's appropriate and possible such as on the I-95/91 interchange and Quinnipiac River Bridge project, said Chief Engineer Thomas Harley. But he said most projects aren't tearing up whole roadways. "We're not going to buy a neighborhood to put these facilities in."

Others dispute his notion that LID necessarily requires additional land.

Addressing a widely held belief among experts and government officials that engineers in general and departments of transportation in particular have been less than embracing of LID, Harley said: "They get stuck in the box that they grew up in.

"It's hard for me to say DOT is pushing the envelope. DOT is not trying to change the rules. We're trying to live by them as they change under us."

DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain called state adoption of LID "an evolutionary process."

"Changes in stormwater permits, even if they're not ironclad requirements, are still important," he said. "As are changing zoning regulations to allow for no curbs."

Experts and officials also point out LID's broader impact from more natural surroundings - which means more things like trees - which in turn have environmental benefits - which in turn attract more people. Green infrastructure they call it.

Groups like the Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association view that as a jobs stimulator. Kevin Sullivan, owner of Chestnut Hill Nursery and a board member of CNLA, said his group has been working with state officials to make it part of the LID economic equation.

"The buzzword of green infrastructure is important to us. We actually create it; we grow it," he said. But, pointing again at engineers, he said there's a "disconnect.

"It's at times frustrating."

Leah Schmalz of Save the Sound, a program of the advocacy group Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said using LID to clean water infused with everything from lawn fertilizer to street pollutants can help improve the livelihoods of fishermen and others who make their livings from Long Island Sound.

She noted the financial obstacle in Connecticut where no city or town has a stormwater authority, as do communities in other states, allowing them to levy user fees to help fund LID projects. Three stormwater authority pilot projects in New Haven, Norwalk and New London, authorized by state enabling legislation, have so far failed to materialize.

"I do believe there needs to be a an overarching coordinated effort," Schmalz said of state involvement, but stopping short of faulting its limited and delayed efforts.

"Is it ideal to be doing a few pilot projects and calling it quits? No," she said. "Is it good to have pilot projects to gather information for long-term strategy? Yes."

From that standpoint, the upshot of the Farmington watershed project is mixed. Avon used its share in the money to make zoning regulations flexible enough to include LID as part of plan to reshape downtown.

"Rather than mandating LID, our conversation has always sort of been eliminating the barrier to it," said John McCahill, Avon's planning and community development specialist.

Torrington used its funds to take a more forceful route, making LID the default mode for subdivision development and exploring concepts like shared parking to cut down on the need for lots.

"Whether this would have happened without state funding? I don't think so," said Barbieri echoing the sentiment of other communities. And she noted it was fun during tropical storm Irene to watch the water disappear in locations where LID measures were in place.

"If Irene wasn't a good test," she said. "I don't know what is."



TREE ORDINANCES

Several P&Z members expressed serious interest in saving trees from clearcutting...

PUBLIC HEARING at Planning and Zoning Monday, May 16, 2011 - three members of the public present.
Zoning Regulations changes approved with minor technical changes for Special Permit section (i.e. Farmers Market, Fire Station not owned by Town of Weston) and plus Apartment Regulation now to be dealt with as of right, with no Special Permit public hearing or notice to neighbors - staff will take care of apartment applications in house, if we understood things correctly.  In addition, there will be more sections of the Zoning Regulations changes to go to Public Hearing, but not until September 6, 2011.



Planning board approves adding sustainability goals to city's master plan
Elizabeth Kim, Stamford ADVOCATE Staff Writer
Published: 10:35 p.m., Saturday, January 1, 2011

STAMFORD -- Representing the first significant policy amendment to the city's master plan, a 47-page amendment that outlines a set of long-term sustainability goals for Stamford has been unanimously adopted by the Planning Board.

The amendment was written by the city's land use bureau staff, along with members of Sustainable Stamford, an environmental advocacy group.

To a large degree, the authors compiled policies that have over the years become part of the city's agenda: transit-oriented development, reducing personal vehicle usage, making improvements to the Stamford Transportation Center, conserving parkland, and expanding recycling, to name but a few of the more than 70 proposals included in the plan.

In voting to approve the amendment last week, board members rejected a recommendation from those representing developers to avoid the use of words like "require" and "promote."

Among the chief concerns of the developers was the city's promotion of standards set by the United States Green Building Council's certification program, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, otherwise known as LEED. Developers had argued that the LEED framework can wind up being costly and inefficient.

The sustainability amendment does not require private developers to adopt LEED, but beginning next year, the city is planning to implement its own ratings system to judge certain projects on the basis of their environmental impact.

Stamford is currently home to at least 15 significantly-sized buildings or developments that have been certified as LEED.

Despite favoring stronger language, the Planning Board did make one concession to developers, by revising the land use bureau's suggestion to make all new city buildings reach LEED Gold status, the second highest of the four ratings. Currently, a Stamford ordinance requires such buildings to attain LEED Silver certification.

"What if some of them can't do LEED?" asked Theresa Dell, the board's chairwoman. She proposed that the city accept an alternative "LEED-like" standard.

The change reflected hesitation by both the Planning Board and city land use officials to push more aggressively for LEED, which has been incorporated by other cities and states. For example, Connecticut mandates all large state construction projects to be built according to LEED. In New York City, considered a national leader in green planning, many building projects that receive city funds must follow LEED standards.

On another issue, the board also declined to incorporate a request from preservationists to include a section on saving and rehabbing historic buildings.

Robin Stein, the city's land use bureau chief, argued that the master plan already contained a section on the subject. "Some communities are much more supportive of historic preservation than Stamford is," he said. "I just think it would have been overkill."

However, Renee Kahn, director of the city's Historic Neighborhood Preservation Program, criticized the omission, saying, "There is nothing greener than saving an existing building."

She added that preservation of existing housing stock is often aligned with the city's affordable housing goals, an issue which is highlighted in both the master plan and the sustainability amendment.

Despite the passage of the amendment, implementation is likely to be gradual. The city's master plan is not a regulatory document, but rather a compendium of recommended ideas and policies. In some cases, it has taken years for the city to approve the regulations needed to enforce the master plan

The challenge now, Stein said, is "to get things to actually happen."



New Haven considers tax on stormwater
CT POST
Published: 01:14 a.m., Sunday, January 2, 2011

NEW HAVEN (AP) -- New Haven officials believe they may have found a new source a revenue: a fee for stormwater removal.

A proposal would establish a Stormwater Authority that would charge residents a flat fee for the stormwater removal, while property owners that create more runoff -- such as those with large, impermeable parking lots -- would pay more.

Storm water removal includes services such as maintenance, street sweeping and catch basin cleaning.

Currently, all those service are paid for through taxes. City Administrative Officer Robert Smuts says the idea is to switch to a system paid for by users. Critics say the fee is just another tax and they ask if other taxes will be cut if the new fee is imposed.

The cost of managing storm water runoff in New Haven is about $2.5 million.




Central Park pedestrian circulation - separate from vehicular circulation -



If the Town of Weston owns the title to Lachat (l), by itself, there are many new possibilities:


Wakeman Farm and GVI: Resolution Reported Reached
WestportNow
James Lomuscio contributed reporting
Posted 08/05 at 09:50 PM


There has been a resolution to the simmering controversy involving the town-owned Wakeman Town Farm and the pioneering Westport environmental group Green Village Initiative (GVI) and its highly regarded teacher of the year tenant farmer. But exactly what was decided is not known.

Sal Gilbertie, a member of the GVI board, said the board agreed on a course of action at a Thursday meeting but would not say what it was. He said a GVI statement would be forthcoming but did not say when.

First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who had previously said the town was working hard for a successful resolution to the issue of continued residency at the farm by teacher Mike Aitkenhead and his family, said he had been told of a GVI decision but did not know the details.

Calls to another GVI member were not returned. Earlier in the week Dan Levinson, who founded the non-profit GVI in 2008, said that a release about the matter would be forthcoming soon, but no official statement has been given.

Controversy Takes Root at Wakeman Farm
WestportNow
By James Lomuscio
Aug. 3. 2011

Board members of Westport’s Green Village Initiative (GVI) say that a shakeup involving the town-owned Wakeman Town Farm and its well regarded farmer-teacher occupant hired by GVI is nearing a resolution.

The controversy centers on Michael Aitkenhead, a Staples High School advanced placement environmental studies teacher and 2010 Teacher of the Year, who had been hired to run the farm, living there with his wife and two small children.  A report on the local 06880 blog that Aitkenhead’s contract has not been renewed caused a flurry of objections from Staples students as well as criticism of GVI. Five GVI board members reportedly resigned over the matter.

Aitkenhead and some of the GVI board met at Town Hall Tuesday morning to iron out differences, but no resolution has been reached. Board member Sal Gilbertie said that he is hopeful the matter will soon be resolved.  Approached at the farm on Monday, Aitkenhead said he has been advised by his attorney not to talk and walked away.

Board members examining Aitkenhead’s stewardship of the farm reportedly found fault in numerous areas.  An individual close to the GVI board but not a town official or employee, and who asked to remain anonymous, said safety supervision was among board concerns which exposed the town to potential liability.  The person said that the board offered Aitkenhead a six-month contract to make improvements in his performance and that he refused it.

Begun “to create environmental and community change,” according to its website, GVI entered into a $1 a year lease agreement with the town in 2009 to operate the farm, gifted to Westport by farmer Isaac Wakeman.

Caretaker Aitkenhead and his family live in the 122-year-old renovated farmhouse that was home to Pearl Wakeman until her death in 2009.  Dan Levinson, who founded the non-profit GVI in 2008, said that a release about the matter would be forthcoming soon, but no official statement has been given.

“At this point, we’re hopeful things work out,” board member Gilbertie said. “We’ve got some positive vibes.”

His sentiments were echoed by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff and Second Selectwoman Shelly Kassen.

“We’re working hard to achieve a successful resolution,” Joseloff said.

“I’m hopeful, working very closely with GVI on behalf of the town, that everything will work out for the best,” said Kassen.

The Wakemans sold 38 acres of prime farmland to the town in 1970 for $200,000. Most of the property, known as Wakeman Park, is now used as playing fields.  Pearl Wakeman died in the farmhouse on the property in 2009 at age 90. (See WestportNow April 20, 2009)

Isaac Wakeman died May 7, 2000, at the age of 88. As part of the sale, he retained lifetime use of 2.2 acres of the property containing the farmhouse for himself and his wife.  The deal became the subject of much controversy 20 years later when the town sought to build playing fields on the property.

Wakeman maintained he had a “handshake” deal to keep the land as open space. The town said otherwise and prevailed.




LEFT, BIKE PED COMMITTEE.  Right, Parcours station in blue;  Bisceglie Park location below.

Weston's Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee: Forging a path forward
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 12:04

[The Weston Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, clockwise from left, Eric Tyson, Julie Sidhu, Jon Howell, Ray Rauth, chairman, Allison Robbins, Louise Hastings and Ruth Glazer. —Kimberly Donnelly photo]

The Weston Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, clockwise from left, Eric Tyson, Julie Sidhu, Jon Howell, Ray Rauth, chairman, Allison Robbins, Louise Hastings and Ruth Glazer. —Kimberly Donnelly photo
Weston’s newly formed Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee met for the first time last week to roll out plans for the path it wants to take.

The seven-member committee was formed by the Board of Selectmen in September to explore ways to enhance pedestrian and bicycle access throughout Weston. The committee was one of the recomendations made in the 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development, written by the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, as a way to strengthen and support a sense of community in Weston.

The committee has been tasked with determining whether proper bicycle and pedestrian design can be incrementally incorporated into the town’s existing transportation system; deciding if some roads can be closed off to motorists at certain times to be utilized exclusively for bicyclists and pedestrians; and working to educate motorists, cyclists and pedestrians on proper safety techniques with a goal of making the town’s roads a safer place for all.

Committee members include Chairman Ray Rauth, who also chairs the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board to the state Department of Transportation, Julie Sidhu (secretary), Eric Tyson, Jon Howell, Ruth Glazer, Louis Hastings, and Allison Robbins

All of the members are either active runners, walkers, or cyclists — or all three. They all expressed a love of outdoor activities and a frustration in not being to take full advantage of Weston’s roadways because of safety concerns.

Ms. Glazer lives on Nimrod Farm Road, just north of School Road. “When I first moved here, I decided to walk to the post office one day. I got out there and I felt like I was risking my life,” she said. “Weston is such a beautiful town, it’s a shame you can’t feel safe walking down the street.”

Mr. Rauth pointed out that statistics collected by the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) show that there are actually relatively few bicycle vs. vehicle and even fewer pedestrian vs. vehicle accidents reported in Weston. While all agreed there are likely more “close calls” and unreported accidents than are reflected in the official data, Mr. Rauth said there is a “reality vs. perception” problem.

Part of the problem is “we don’t have the critical mass of enough people using the roads — other than driving on them — that we need to make them safe,” Mr. Rauth said. The committee, he added, can be “the nucleus of that critical mass.”

Connectivity

There was a consensus on the committee that “sidewalks all over town” are not what anyone wants. However, they also agreed that “connectivity” of various natural gathering places in town — i.e., town hall/library, town center, the schools, Bisceglie-Scribner Park — is a goal.

It is not as simple as just putting in sidewalks or a bike path, however. Things to be considered include bike racks, pocket parking areas, paths to connect the town’s many culs-de-sac and dead ends, clearing of roadside brush, installing signs, crosswalks, and restriping and paving options.

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein told the committee that SWRPA has been working on a long-term transportation plan for the southwest region. For Weston, one of the top transportation priorities is improving some of the intersections in town, including the three that would be part of a center of town loop: Norfield and Weston roads, School and Weston roads, and the four-road intersection of Georgetown Road, Old Mill Road, Weston Road, and Newtown Turnpike that currently has a blinking light and three stop signs.

Acknowledging that there are many pieces to the puzzle and many town departments, officials, and commissions that must be involved, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee decided to invite the police chief, the chairmen of the Planning and Zoning and the Conservation commissions, and representatives from the Parks and Recreation Department and Commission and the Sustainability Committee to some of its upcoming monthly meetings.

Meetings

The committee will meet on the first Wednesday of each month from 12:30 to 2:30 in the Commission Room at Weston Town Hall. All interested members of the public are welcome to attend meetings.

Led by Ms. Sidhu, the group is also planning to walk Bisceglie-Scribner Park to look at the fitness trails there next Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 12:30, weather permitting.

“Bisceglie Park is a neglected treasure,” Ms. Sidhu said. When the baseball fields there were built several years ago, the fitness trail that was already in place was split and has since fallen into disrepair; many don’t even know it’s there, she said. With just a little care, the area would be great for seniors, especially, she added.

School Road

The committee is also looking at improving bike and pedestrian accessibility on School Road.

First Selectman Weinstein said she has met with the president of the middle school PTO about exploring a Safe Routes to Schools federal grant that is disbursed by the state. The purpose of the program is to make it safer for elementary school-aged children to walk or bike to school; the grant could pay for the bulk of the cost of installing sidewalks along School Road, Ms. Weinstein said.

The first selectman said she is also looking at the Healthy Lives Initiative that is part of the new federal health care bill. Because Weston’s Senior Center is on the school campus, the town might qualify for some of that funding if it were used to install sidewalks there.

The town has also talked about closing School Road to motorized vehicles at certain times in order to encourage using the road for walking, biking, running, etc.

The committee agreed that the educational component of its mission is perhaps the most important if there is to be a change in town. They also realized, however, that they first need a cohesive and focused message.

For example, the state has a relatively new law on the books that requires cars and trucks to give cyclists a minimum clearance of three feet when passing them on the road. Mr. Rauth showed the committee road signs, posters, and bumper stickers that are available.

Committee members were enthusiastic, but soon realized there is work to be done first to determine if and where signs can be installed on town and state roads, if that’s something the town wants, and how much it will cost. After figuring all of that out, then an education campaign to spread the word may be developed.

Ms. Glazer agreed to put together a “master plan” of the committee’s ideas and goals, broken down into components that can be tweaked and then tackled.

“So in a sense we have a path forward to the next meeting,” Mr. Rauth said at the conclusion of the inaugural meeting.





A MAP NEEDED.
School/Town property (l) towards lower right; Schools and Town Hall/Library "superblock."  Notes taken at meetings above in reverse chronological order. 


"2010 FACILITIES COMMITTEE"

"FACILITY COMMITTEE" formed  by Selectmen to evaluate public land and buildings in light of future needs - a precursor to perhaps a larger Committee (Hal Shupack, Glenn Major and Joe Fitzpatrick);  first meeting conflicts with Board of Selectmen Thursday, October 7, 2010.   Do you think they will concentrate on infill development of properties colored light, bright green and dark blue?  Will they map town-owned rights of way, easements and development rights parcels? (Too much work for anybody else we can think of, so far.)




CENSUS 2010 DATA FOR WESTON, CONNECTICUT
Source:  South Western Regional Planning Agency




A MAP OF POPULATION DENSITY IN WESTON 2010, U.S. Census of Population and Housing



THE ACTUAL DATA FOR WESTON;  American Community Survey Data 2005-2009 here, offering the snapshot of Weston population and housing in greater depth.



Click on spread sheet above to get 2005-2009 "Rolling Census" American Community Survey data for Weston.   This source will give you much of the detail Weston got from the Census 2000 and earlier - statistically is was collected differently -  it might even be more accurated than samples from the past!




Sketch Plan 2005 (left);  At right, a blank base map for central Weston planning.  About Town colors in 2005 example here.


CHARTER REVISION NECESSARY...AGAIN?
How could changing the form of Weston government assist in supporting the Plan at the left?  Four neighborhoods with three members each or perhaps more, of an RTM each (but onethird of that number per "ring" neighborhoods shown) replacing the Town Meeting, for example.  With a Board of Selectmen and all the other boards that have operating authorities in the budget continuing.  RTM is on top and is NON-PARTISAN so that unaffiliated voters may participate as members.