At the top: link to New Town Plan,
"Speak Up" 2010
announcement; Planimetrics 2-26-09 "scoping session" at new WHS
cafeteria, leading to
ZONING"(as in East Lyme) and Weston wetlands enforcement agent into the
mix for implementation.
being re-assessed - reliance on septic holding capacity and natural
of wells still preferred policy. How "Goals" of the TOWN PLAN
been affected by Referenda, CT DEP, economy and outside influences -
"Smart Growth" ideas; some events having impact are:
- Non-Point Source Pollution; how does this work in the 21st century?
- CT Aquifer Protection designation to P&Z as agency to draw up rules for small Aquarion well field near Coley Cemetery;
- Latest from the USGS on supply of H2O: http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/2004/circ1268/
- Latest on water use in USA: http://nationalatlas.gov/articles/water/a_wateruse.html
- STORMWATER RUNOFF detained by - wetlands;
- The Feds: Army Corps...their approvals received mid-November 2003...construction go-ahead by State of CT "S.F.U." and all others in hand;
- Supreme Court decision on wetlands not decisive but...(2006).
State Government: why do you think the State of Connecticut took so long to update its population projections?
- Link to data center: http://ctsdc.uconn.edu/
- Link to OPM for State of Connecticut Plan of Conservation and Development 2005-2010;
- South Western Region on-line sub-section of CT PLAN map;
- Weston in the new CT PLAN OF C&D;
- Statement from the CT Plan that explains why Weston zoning is not as inefficient as we might think it is.
- And the one thing we lack (especially now with Cartbridge out of service): covered bridges; we've still got a few barns!
- School Building Committee meeting notes by "About Town" - news;
- Conservation Commission:
- approved (2003) unanimously Bisceglie Park plan without septic treatment outflow;
- OK's School Road site plan unanimously;
- limits Town's capacity to irrigate fields at Morehouse Farm Park...
- then on June 6, 2006, decision to increase the volume of water allowed from existing irrigation, after experience and State of Connecticut monitored water supply testing.
HOW THE SCHOOL PROJECT WORKED OUT
"ABOUT TOWN" followed this
long effort to gain approval for the Policy Plan: SWRPA's
Regional Plan adopted in 2006 was ruled "not inconsistent with" the new
State Plan of C&D! And Weston P&Z's new Town Plan 2010
was relued "not inconsistent with" SWRPA's!
The bill establishes a 21-member council to coordinate, within available appropriations, a GIS capacity for the state, regional planning agencies, municipalities and others as needed. In doing so, the council must consult with these parties. The capacity must guide and assist state and local officials involved in transportation; economic development; land use planning; environmental, cultural, and natural resource management; delivering public services; and other areas as necessary.
In coordinating the GIS capacity, the council specify how the GIS must created, maintain, and disseminate geographic information or imagery that (1) precisely identifies certain locations or areas or (2) creates maps or information profiles in graphic or electronic form about them. The council must also promote a forum where GIS information can be centralized and distributed.
The council may apply for or accept and spend federal funds on the state's behalf through OPM.
the table shows, the council consists
mostly of state officials and specific GIS users appointed by
leaders. The council can add more members, as it deems necessary. The
authority must fill any vacancies. The members are not paid for their
but are reimbursed for necessary expenses they incur while working on
Geospatial Information System Council Membership - Appointee and Appointing AuthorityThe bill requires the governor to select the council's chairman from among its members. The chairman must administer the council's affairs.
OPM Secretary (Statutory)
Environmental Protection Commissioner (Statutory)
Economic and Community Development Commissioner (Statutory)
Transportation Commissioner, (Statutory)
Public Safety Commissioner, (Statutory)
Public Health Commissioner, (Statutory)
Public Works Commissioner, (Statutory)
Agriculture Commissioner, (Statutory)
Emergency Management and Homeland Security Commissioner, (Statutory)
Social Services Commissioner, (Statutory)
Department of Information Technology Chief Information Officer, (Statutory)
Connecticut State University System Chancellor, (Statutory)
University of Connecticut President, (Statutory)
Connecticut Siting Council Executive Director, (Statutory)
Public Utility Control Authority Chairman, (Statutory)
Military Department Adjacent General, (Statutory)
GIS User representing town with over 60,000 people, (Senate President Pro Tempore)
GIS User representing a regional planning agency, (Senate Minority Leader)
GIS User representing a town with between 30,000 and 60,000 people, (Governor)
GIS User representing a town with fewer than 30,000 people, (House Speaker)
GIS User, (House Minority Leader)
The council must meet at least once a month and may hold additional meetings as its rules require. The chairman or any three members can call special meetings if they notify the other members in writing at least 48 hours before the meeting.
Technical Assistance Program
The council must, within available appropriations, provide technical assistance to towns and regional planning agencies for developing GISs. It must recommend how the GIS it developed can be improved.
Beginning January 1, 2006, the council must report annually on its activities to the Planning and Development Committee.
DATE: Upon passage
The bill requires the Office of Policy and Management secretary to report on the land use training and education programs available to members of local land use agencies and the extent to which members participate in them. He may include any recommendations for improving or expanding the programs, including recommendations for changing state law.
In preparing the report, the secretary must consult with:
1. environmental protection commissioner,
2. Council on Soil and Water Conservation District,
3. regional planning agencies,
4. regional councils of governments,
5. regional councils of elected officials,
6. UConn's Agricultural Extension Service,
7. Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association,
8. UConn's Center of Land Use Education and Research, and
9. Rural Development Council
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage
New State Plan of Conservation and Development adopted - earlier Session BILL ANALYSIS here...
Newest from "CLEAR" ("Son of NEMO") is Weston map showing changes in land cover between 1985 and 2002, tables.
"ABOUT TOWN'S" TOWN PLAN REVIEW AND WHERE WE THINK THE TOWN STANDS ON THE PLAN'S...IMPLEMENTATION:
Adopted 6-19-00, available at Town Hall; effective 6-30-00...WESTON TOWN PLAN OF CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT. Until a copy was mailed to every household in Weston in December 2000, all citizens had to do to read (in the comfort of their home) the official DRAFT of the Weston Town Plan of Conservation and Development 2000 (which was revised minimally for grammar, etc. and then ADOPTED effective June 30, 2000). A visit the Town of Weston WEBsite was all it took! Copies were also available (of the text) in Town Hall. To link to handy map of U.S. Census Block Groups 2000, and courtesy of the South Western Regional Planning Agency, including a sample of some data for Weston, can be found by clicking HERE.Background on the affordable housing issue. Link to "Recommended State Plan of Conservation & Development 2004-2009," which leaned heavily on Smart Growth and Property Tax Commission Final Report, Metropatterns, and other recent reports. This new Plan was not adopted by the General Assembly in a timely fashion, but will be up for Public Hearing February 7, 2005 (Monday) at 5pm in the L.O.B. Room 2A...
The special meeting to discuss the proposal to convert SWRPA to a council of governments was held on Wednesday evening, April 20th at 7:30 p.m. in the Senior Center Auditorium on the Second Floor of the Stamford Government Center, 888 Washington Boulevard (northwest corner of Route 1) in Stamford.
Two documents written by staff of SWRPA provide some background on the issues surrounding this proposal:FIRST DOCUMENT (RPA-CEO-COG brief description);
WESTPORT NEWS ARTICLE, Friday, April 29, 2005
WESTON FORUM EDITORIAL, April 28, 2005 (in addition to long story on front page with jump to back page); Weston a beehive of activity!
NORWALK HOUR EDITORIAL, Sunday, April 24, 2005
On-line newspaper report on RPO showdown (WestportNow) here;
Officials Disagree with Population Projections
By Jennifer Connic
Posted 05/17/07 at 05:05 PM
Westport officials said today they disagree with a report from the University of Connecticut that predicts the town’s population will grow by almost 20 percent by 2030.
The report from the Connecticut State Data Center shows Westport’s population to grow by 19.3 percent from 26,610 in 2005 to 31,757 in 2030 (See WestportNow May 16). But town officials are saying they disagree with the report and do not anticipate the significant growth over the next 20 years. Planning and Zoning Director Laurence Bradley said the dramatic increase does not fit with the model they are using with the update to the Town Plan of Conservation and Development.
"We believe the population is going to get smaller and older,” he said. “We just don’t see (the growth) happening. The projections don’t fit the trend.”
In order to have the type of growth projected by the UConn report, he said, there would need to be a significant increase in housing. First Selectman Gordon Joseloff said the town is 98 percent developed, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the sort of growth projected by the UConn demographers.
“We’re not going to see hundreds of housing units built,” he said. “The town plan doesn’t call for it, and it won’t call for it.”
The report itself is surprising, Joseloff said, because the town’s population decreased over the previous 30 years before 2000.
“It calls into question the basis of the projections,” he said. “It’s not necessarily accurate.”
Town officials have received population projections previously from various organizations, he said, and they never call for an increase as large as the one projected in the UConn report.
Planning group aims for more unified voice: SWRPA considers changing structure
By Mark Ginocchio
April 21, 2005
STAMFORD -- A old debate was rekindled last night when elected officials discussed a proposal to create a council for the region.
The South Western Regional Planning Agency held a special meeting to discuss changing the organization so it's led by the eight elected officials in the region.
A Council of Governments is designed to give the region a more unified voice for discussing issues such as transportation, homeland security and public health, but opponents of the conversion say a council would strip the municipalities of their individual authority.
"Under a COG, there is no voice of the people," Greenwich Town Planner Diane Fox said to the group of elected officials, planning and zoning commissioners and SWRPA members during last night's meeting at the Stamford Government Center. "In SWRPA, public involvement is widespread."
SWRPA's current membership consists of the agency's board members and 22 representatives from the eight municipalities as appointed by elected officials. Members are from the town's government, planning and zoning commissions and the general public.
The number seats is based on population: Norwalk and Stamford each have four seats; Greenwich and Westport own three seats; and the other four towns have two seats.
A Council of Governments would give each municipality an equal vote and would consist only of mayors and first selectmen. A conversion would require a 60 percent approval from the eight municipalities.
There are currently seven Council of Governments and five regional planning associations in the state.
In January, the chief elected officials and several SWRPA board members attended a presentation of the role of COGs by James Butler, executive director of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments in Norwich.
Supporters of a conversion said if SWRPA became a Council of Governments, the organization would better address regional needs by directly involving elected officials.
"We need to consider new issues of regional concern," Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp said. "Anthrax and smallpox don't respect town bodies. It's a false picture of how we live to just say it's always town-to-town."
Knopp said the conversion would formally recognized a process that is already in place. The eight leaders now meet to approve transportation projects, but often informally discuss other concerns.
SWRPA executive director Robert Wilson said the only thing that would change through a conversion is the membership.
"A COG would have the same authority as a RPA," he said.
But opponents feared a Council of Governments could become a "county government," and other elected officials were unconvinced of the need to convert. County government was abolished in Connecticut in 1960.
"The current regional structure we have is more effective than a COG will ever be," said Dan Gilbert, a member of the Weston Planning and Zoning commission. "I'm always concerned when there are chief elected officials looking for more authority."
Because of how the votes are counted, Gilbert said Council of Governments decisions would come down to "five votes to win, four votes to lose." He was concerned other municipalities may petition the state to join the southwest's COG.
Wilson said other municipalities also could petition to join a regional planning agency and it was doubtful there would ever be such a scenario.
Others still sought a reason for a conversion.
"We don't see a problem that would be solved by moving to a COG," said Greenwich First Selectman James Lash. "It's fair to say this has no chance in passing in our town meeting because a case hasn't been made for a need."
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell said a conversion would better streamline the work of the Council of Governments. She also wanted to dispel the possibility of municipalities losing their voice in a council of government.
"We are all beholden to our constituents," Farrell said. "Nothing about this usurps individual rights and authority. There are more COGs than RPAs in the state and it hasn't happened yet."
The land cover data were interpreted from Landsat satellite imagery. Sensors aboard the satellite detect radiation reflected from the earth’s surface and store these data as images. The images, which are made up of millions of squares with a ground resolution of 30 meters (~ 100 feet) on a side, are converted via computer programs and human expertise into land cover maps. Land cover, as its name implies, shows the "covering" of the landscape. This is to be distinguished from land use, which is what is permitted, practiced or intended for a given area. For example, an area of low-density rural residential land use, as permitted by local zoning, likely will appear as forest in a Landsat image – there are a lot more trees than houses. Similarly, downtown Hartford, which is classified mostly as a “Developed” land cover is a mixture of uses that include offices, restaurants, stores, apartments, roads, parking lots, etc. From the satellite image it’s not possible to determine what the land uses are but we can describe the area as being developed.
The land cover data include eleven consistently defined classes and include: developed areas, turf and grass, other grasses and agriculture, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, water, non-forested wetlands, forested wetlands, tidal wetlands, barren areas, and utility rights-of-way. In preparing the data, care was taken to insure the accuracy of land cover classifications from one time period to the next thereby making it possible to conduct change analyses.
The land cover
maps and a number of interpreted products can be viewed on the CLEAR
and each of the four dates of data can be downloaded for use in
2/04 - New
NEMO Program Coordinator Announced
John Rozum, AICP
Finally, you have someone to call! After a nation-wide search for a NEMO Program Director, it turns out that we had only to look down the hall. John Rozum, an AICP Planner and our first and only National NEMO Network Coordinator, decided to throw his hat into the ring after our original search, this past fall, did not produce quite the right candidate.
After earning Master's degrees at the University of Arizona in Ecology and Land Use Planning, John worked as an environmental and community planner in Michigan for three years. In 1999 he came to UConn to lead the National NEMO Network, which at the time was just starting to take shape. Under John's tender ministrations, the Network has grown like a weed, going from 9 to 34 programs in four years. While John was nurturing the National Network, he was also delving into local planning in the Nutmeg State.
He is a member of East Haddam's Planning and Zoning Commission, the East Haddam Village Planning Group and the Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Study Management Committee. In addition, John has provided many important contributions to Connecticut NEMO during his tenure as National Coordinator, including leading the development of the Community Resource Inventory educational module.
With enthusiastic support of the rest of the team, John made the decision to focus on assisting Connecticut's communities, even though he'll miss the national program. Having recently celebrated our 10-year anniversary, the NEMO Program is at an important crossroads. With John at the helm, the NEMO Team will in short order reshape the program to keep all that has made it successful while adding new ideas, new services, new information and new partnerships into the mix.
link to Weston Land Cover 1995 NEMO map!
2/04 - Steal Connecticut Land Cover Maps!
No need for larceny, you can download the maps and information on Connecticut’s Changing Landscape Project for free on the CLEAR website. Here you will find more information on how the data were created, some preliminary interpretation, fact sheets, frequently asked questions, as well as ways to download the GIS information for those geospatially inclined. If you don't have the latest GIS software on your computer, no worries. The website also includes an interactive mapping section that allows you to view, query and print the maps using nothing more than your internet browser. So grab your favorite beverage and point your browser to the CLEAR website to learn more about Connecticut's changing landscape.
This bill allows
municipalities to establish by ordinance decentralized wastewater
districts. It establishes conditions
that must be met before a town can create such a district, including approval of an engineering plan by the DEP commissioner with concurring approval by the commissioner of the Department of Public Health (DPH). It lists standards, regulations, and criteria that a town can apply to such a district. It requires DPH to conduct any oversight or monitoring of these districts within available appropriations.
The bill requires a town water pollution control authority to include in its water pollution control plan the designation and boundary of any decentralized wastewater management district it establishes and to describe any programs where the local health director manages subsurface sewage disposal systems. The bill requires the authority to ensure the operation and management of any decentralized wastewater management district not owned by the municipality.
By law, municipalities, through their water pollution control authorities, can establish and revise rules and regulations governing sewerage systems; the bill requires any such rules or regulations regarding decentralized systems to be approved by the local health director before taking effect. Also by law, an authority can order a building owner to connect to an available sewerage system; the bill allows it to order an owner to construct an alternative sewage treatment system and connect the building to it.
The bill also requires a municipality to include in its ordinance remediation standards to regulate alternative sewage treatment systems.
The bill states
that any area designated by municipal ordinance as a decentralized
management district is not considered
to be a public sewer under the Public Health Code. It also states that its provisions must not be construed to limit the authority of a local health director or the commissioners of DEP or DPH.
The bill defines a "decentralized system" as a managed subsurface sewage disposal system, managed alternative sewage treatment system, or community sewerage system that discharges less than 5,000 gallons of sewage per day, are used to collect and treat domestic sewage, and involve discharges from a municipality into the state's ground waters.
It defines a "decentralized wastewater management district" as an area of a municipality designated through a municipal ordinance when an engineering report determines that existing subsurface sewage disposal systems may be detrimental to public health or the environment and decentralized systems are required and the report is approved by the DEP commissioner with concurring approval by the DPH commissioner after consultation with the local health director.
It defines an "alternative sewage treatment system" as one serving one or more buildings that uses treatment methods other than a subsurface sewage disposal system and discharges into the state's ground waters.
"remediation standards" as pollutant limits, performance requirements,
design parameters, or technical standards applying
to existing sewage discharges in a decentralized wastewater district for improving wastewater treatment to protect public health and the environment.
It changes the definition of a "community sewerage system" to a system serving two or more, rather than one or more, residences in separate structures not connected to a municipal sewerage system or connected as a distinct and separately managed part of such a system.
Finally, it includes a decentralized system in a decentralized wastewater management district established under the bill's provisions under the definition of a sewerage system.
Other statutes and regulations in the Public Health Code, not changed by this bill, define related terms. A "subsurface sewage disposal system" is a septic tank, leaching system and the additional necessary pumps, siphons, collection sewers, and groundwater control system. An "alternative on-site sewage treatment system" is one serving one or more buildings on one property using treatment methods other than subsurface sewage treatment and discharging into state waters.
Requirements For Municipality To Establish District
The municipality must act after approval of the engineering report by the DEP commissioner with concurrence from the DPH commissioner in consultation with the local health director. The engineering report must have determined that existing subsurface sewage disposal systems may be detrimental to public health or the environment and that decentralized systems are required. The municipality must act in conjunction with its water pollution control authority.
Provisions Of The Ordinance
The bill requires the ordinance to include remediation standards for the design, construction, and installation of alternative sewage treatment systems and standards for the effective supervision, management, control, operation, and maintenance of alternative sewage treatment systems within a decentralized district that are consistent with any DEP permit, order, or recommendation.
The bill allows the ordinance to include, with the local health director's approval:
1. remediation and technical standards for the design and construction of subsurface disposal systems that are more stringent than those imposed by the state Public Health Code;
for the local health director to order the upgrade of subsurface sewage
treatment systems according to the remediation and
3. authority for the local health director to establish criteria for the abandonment of substandard subsurface sewage disposal systems;
4. authority for the local health director to order the owner of a substandard subsurface sewage disposal system not complying with the remediation or technical standards or other criteria to abandon the substandard system so the water pollution control authority can order him to connect to a sewerage system;
5. standards established by the local health director for effective supervision, management, control, operation, and maintenance of managed subsurface sewage disposal systems within a decentralized district; and
6. authority for the water pollution control authority to enact and amend regulations, following approval by the local health director, governing the supervision, management, control, operation, and maintenance of the decentralized system.
October 1, 2003
Permit cities of more than 100,000 to adopt a two-tier property tax system under which urban land would be taxed at a higher rate than buildings. This hybrid approach discourages owners from holding vacant parcels and encourages commercial or residential development because of the tax bonus. The system has produced spectacular results in Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania.
Authorize a tax burden analysis. Connecticut is among a minority of states that fail to take advantage of computer analyses to show how proposed taxes would affect people in each income group. Without this valuable tool, lawmakers operate in the dark about the real impact of new taxes.
Create a coordinated state-local geographic information system - a computer method that overlays data about taxes, sewers, power lines, soil type and other information to give a snapshot of land parcels.
Update and expand state, regional and local plans of development to facilitate rational decisions and maximize the economic potential of, for example, rail and bus lines. Significantly, the bill would require "integration of planning across all levels of government" to bring about smart growth.
Unfortunately, one key legislative ingredient was dropped under pressure from homebuilders. It would have authorized a statewide "build-out" analysis to show what towns might look like if every parcel were developed to the maximum permitted by current zoning. Such a survey would expose the impact of unrestrained growth on schools, roads, water, open space and public safety. That provision should be included.
Of course, each town could hire consultants to carry out such a study, but that would subvert the desirable goal of regional and statewide anti-sprawl planning. A statewide study might cost $1 million, but it will be money well spent if the result is increased awareness and better planning.
A broad coalition of civic, religious and business groups now recognizes the dangers of random sprawl and the need to channel development in reasonable ways.
Scattered housing and commercial projects flung across the landscape require a huge public investment in added roads, sewers, police protection and other services. They also require longer commutes - clogging highways and worsening air pollution. Moreover, random development in one of the smallest states in the nation chews up farmland, destroys open space and damages scenic vistas.
Steering development to urban areas with existing infrastructure is the sensible approach. There is nothing draconian about the proposed smart growth legislation. It would give the state additional tools and authority to make rational decisions about the future of Connecticut's landscape.
Preservationists throughout Fairfield County are uniting to form a coalition to combat sprawl and the demolition of historic structures.
The Fairfield County Preservation Trust will undertake its mission later this year. Organizers of the newly established nonprofit organization still have to form a board of directors, raise private funds, hire a small staff and set up an office. The group has support from historical societies countywide and has secured a $25,000 grant from Westport-based Newman's Own. Area preservationists and area historical society members formed the coalition after recognizing a trend in demolition and insensitive redevelopment that was tarnishing the Gold Coast's charms.
"One thing that all the communities in the county have in common is the desire to stop sprawl -- residential and commercial -- which is destroying the character of our communities and our quality of life," said Bill Kraus, a Norwalk resident and vice president of the trust. John Lupton, the trust's president, said the group would differ from historical societies -- which are generally more focused on archiving and research -- by addressing and raising public awareness of tear-downs and development that is discordant with its surroundings.
Lupton said the trust would be a clearinghouse of information, offering residents tips on rehabilitating old homes, designating areas as historic to protect against disharmonious development, obtaining available tax credits and placing easements on land to preserve it. The organization's Web site is www.fairfieldcountypreservation.org.The trust's goal is also to educate the public through an advertising campaign about the problems associated with sprawl and the economic benefits of historic preservation.
"All over Fairfield County, there are many old homes that are not protected," Lupton said.
One of the trust's first tasks will be to inventory and prioritize all the "endangered" historic homes in the county. Having such a list would assist the group in contacting property owners and prioritizing its preservation efforts with available funding. The group also plans to contract consultants and attorneys to battle development.
Demolition of residential and commercial buildings has increased in recent years, according to data from the state Department of Economic and Community Development. From 2000 to 2002, the number of demolition permits granted in Norwalk increased from 30 to 40; in Stamford, from 21 to 35; in Westport, from 65 to 76; in Greenwich, from 78 to 79.
As troubling, though, as the "tear-down trend," said Kraus, is insensitive renovation and redevelopment. He cited a recent case in which owners of an older commercial building removed solid oak flooring and old staircases -- only to violate zoning regulations and then approach preservationists for help. The trust hopes to position itself so property owners in similar situations seek its assistance before demolition begins.
we had gotten involved early
in the design stage, we could have shown them simple ways they could
worked with the building . . . and they would have ended up with a much
more solid, valuable building at the end," Kraus said. "As it was, it
too late for us to help them."
Population Of U.S. Nearing 300 Million
Americans are consuming more food, energy, resources than ever
By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Writer
New London DAY
Published on 10/15/2006
Washington — America's population is on track to hit 300 million on Tuesday morning, and it's causing a stir among environmentalists.
People in the United States are consuming more than ever — more food, more energy, more natural resources. Open spaces are shrinking and traffic in many areas is dreadful. But some experts argue that population growth only partly explains America's growing consumption. Just as important, they say, is where people live, what they drive and how far they travel to work.
“The pattern of population growth is really the most crucial thing,” said Michael Replogle, transportation director for Environmental Defense, a New York-based advocacy group.
“If the population grows in thriving existing communities, restoring the historic density of older communities, we can easily sustain that growth and create a more efficient economy without sacrificing the environment,” Replogle said.
That has not been the American way. Instead, the country has fed its appetite for big houses, big yards, cul-de-sacs and strip malls. In a word: sprawl.
“Because the U.S. has become a suburban nation, sprawl has become the most predominant form of land use,” said Vicky Markham, director of the Center for Environment and Population, an advocacy group. “Sprawl is, by definition, more spread out. That of course requires more vehicles and more vehicle miles traveled.”
America still has a lot of wide-open spaces, with about 84 people per square mile, compared with about 300 people per square mile in the European Union and almost 900 people per square mile in Japan. But a little more than half the U.S. population is clustered in counties along the coasts, including those along the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes. Also, much of the population is moving away from large cities to the suburbs and beyond.
The fastest growing county is Flagler County, Fla., north of Daytona Beach; the fastest growing city is Elk Grove, Calif., a suburb of Sacramento; and the fastest growing metropolitan area is Riverside, Calif., about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
“In New York City, people tend to think of that as an urban jungle, but the environmental impact per capita is quite low,” said Carlos Restrepo, a research scientist at New York University. “It tends to be less than it is for someone who lives in the suburbs with a big house where they need more than one car.”
The Census Bureau projects that America's population will hit 300 million at 7:46 a.m. EDT Tuesday. The projection is based on estimates for births, deaths and net immigration that add up to one new American every 11 seconds.
The estimated 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. are included in official population estimates, though many demographers believe they are undercounted.
The population reached its last milestone, 200 million, in 1967. That translates into a 50 percent increase in 39 years. During the same period, the number of households nearly doubled, the number motor vehicles more than doubled and the miles driven in those vehicles nearly tripled. The average household size has shrunk from 3.3 people to 2.6 people, and the share of households with only one person has jumped from less than 16 percent to about 27 percent.
“The natural resource base that is required to support each person keeps rising,” Replogle said. “We're heating and cooling more space, and the housing units are more spread out than ever before.”
The U.S. is the third largest country in the world, behind China and India. The U.S. is the fastest growing of the industrialized nations, adding about 2.8 million people a year, or just under 1 percent. India is growing faster but the United Nations considers it to be a less developed country. About 40 percent of U.S. population growth comes from immigration, both legal and illegal, according to the Census Bureau. The rest comes from births outnumbering deaths.
“It's not the population, it's the consumption that can do us in,” said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “These are the luxuries we have been able to support until now. But we're not going to be able to do it forever.”
October 8, 2006
decades, ill-planned, low-density, auto-oriented development, known as
sprawl, has been eating away at the traditional Connecticut
countryside. Scenic farms have been sacrificed for subdivisions and
strip malls. Ridge lines have been cleared for McMansions. Urban
centers have struggled.
Finally, on Friday, a Connecticut governor said it has to stop. Gov. M. Jodi Rell issued an executive order creating a state office to control sprawl and promote more sensible and sustainable growth.
The new agency, the Office of Responsible Growth, will be part of the state's Office of Policy and Management. The new agency will convene a steering council made up of the state agencies involved in land use: economic development, environmental protection, transportation, agriculture and public health, as well as the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority and the Connecticut Development Authority.
The governor's order charges this group with such tasks as:
Increasing mass-transit options and promoting road design that preserves the character and walkability of a community.
Expanding transit-oriented development - housing with ready access to passenger rail and bus service.
Creating incentives for regional planning and support for local land-use officials (without usurping local zoning).
Encouraging planning that will protect natural resources.
This is not Rell's first anti-sprawl measure. She's supported a $3.5 billion investment in transportation infrastructure in the past two years, and backed the creation of a dedicated fund to support the protection of open space, farmland and historic sites, as well as the creation of affordable housing.
But the creation of the new agency is the first structural change Rell has made in state government to tame ill-conceived and wasteful development. We applaud it. The Courant has extensively examined the effects of sprawl over the past two years, and we believe it is damaging the state's quality of life - our best selling point - and slowing the state's economy.
Still, the announcement raises a few questions.
Bringing all the agencies to the table - "joining the silos," as the planners say - is clearly the way to get coordinated state action. But will the new agency have the authority to bend the departments to its will? Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney created a super-agency by combining the departments of energy, environmental protection, transportation and housing to fight sprawl, and it is working. Rell needs to ensure the same result.
Also, Rell's announcement says the new agency will "review state funding" that has an impact on development in Connecticut. That language doesn't go far enough. The state has to be able to direct state funding toward sensible development and stop subsidizing sprawl. If the new agency can't do that, it's not going to be strong enough to make a difference.
Finally, Rell does not address one major cause of sprawl, and that is the state's heavy and disastrous dependence on local property taxes (though she has a task force studying the issue). Towns strapped for funds are inclined to develop every corner of field or forest to squeeze more money for schools and other services. Someone's got to shift some of the burden to other taxes that aren't as dependent on land use, if we're to really stop sprawl.
Nonetheless, Rell has stepped out in front of her gubernatorial opponent, John DeStefano Jr. - who is knowledgeable on the subject - and taken the most promising action yet to rein in sprawl. We await Mr. DeStefano's plan.
Out A Region At Risk
By MYRON ORFIELD, Published in New London DAY on 7/6/2003
Unbalanced growth is hurting all communities in Connecticut — including the state's beautiful northeastern corner. Despite revitalization efforts, many of the state's large cities and older suburbs continue to face declining population and stagnant tax bases. At the same time, many of the state's outlying communities are facing the pressures of rapid, low-density growth.
New development in Connecticut is consuming previously undeveloped land at alarming rates. Between 1970 and 2000, the amount of land settled at urban or suburban densities increased by 102 percent. During the same period, the state's population increased by just 12 percent. Our recent report, “Connecticut Metropatterns,” used statistical analysis to group the state's 169 towns and cities by specified fiscal and social characteristics. Communities were divided into six groups, ranging from highly stressed central cities to a group of affluent suburbs. Nearly all communities in Northeast Connecticut fell into one of two groups. The first, “at risk” communities, is still stable by many measures.
These places have slightly below-average poverty rates in their schools, an average number of jobs per resident and greater-than-average job growth. But there are signs of stress afoot. School-poverty rates edged up slightly faster in this group than in the state as a whole during the 1990s. Property tax base and growth in property tax base are below the state averages, as the map above illustrates. This hinders their ability to adequately meet social and physical needs. Because of such pressures, it increases the likelihood that such towns will adopt development that increases sprawl and lessens the beauty that attracted people to the Northeast corner to begin with.
Most other northeast Connecticut communities were classified as “fringe-developing.” The most exceptional characteristic of these middle-class communities is rapid growth — more than twice the rate of the state as a whole — at very low densities. This type of growth brings its own stresses — requiring major investments in roads, sewers and schools that often strain even the hardiest tax bases. However, most fringe-development places do not command such big tax bases – on average, they have slightly below-average tax bases that are growing much more slowly than average.
At-risk and fringe-developing communities were home to nearly 40 percent of the land that urbanized during the 1980s and 1990s. Given their low tax bases, these communities feel tremendous pressure to attract development that will improve their fiscal health. This pressure can drive land-use planning decisions and discourage a cooperative, regional approach to planning. These trends have serious implications for the region and the state as a whole. What can we do to turn them around? Fortunately, there are strategies that can help.
Reform Connecticut's property
The local fiscal landscape in Connecticut is dominated by much greater-than-average reliance on property taxes to finance municipal services and schools. This places tremendous pressure on most communities to attract development that will expand their property tax bases. That's especially true in low-tax-base communities where the need for public services far outstrips the available property tax base to pay for them. Reducing reliance on the property tax would reduce the pressures communities feel to develop land. For example, state lawmakers could move more of the cost of K-12 public education from local property taxes to the statewide revenue system, freeing up local funds for other important public services. Another option is regional tax-base sharing, which pools a portion of local governments' tax base and redistributes it more equitably. Tax-base sharing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul has helped its core communities remain relatively healthy and provided fiscal support to low-tax-base exurban areas. A smaller program in the New Jersey Meadowlands has helped officials guide development in an environmentally-friendly way by guaranteeing that all 14 Meadowlands communities share the benefits of development, no matter where in the district it occurs.
Encourage regional land-use
Connecticut institutions currently do little to support balanced growth. For example, although towns must note any inconsistency with the State Plan of Conservation and Development when amending their own plans, they are not required to reconcile any differences. Many state agencies produce plans, but often independently of each other. In fact, there is no state agency explicitly responsible for planning. Although the state boasts 15 councils of government and regional planning agencies, these regional bodies have no statutory authority to review local land-use decisions. Policies should be established that encourage local planning with a regional and statewide perspective. For example, strengthened regional bodies could coordinate a host of regional issues, such as housing and redevelopment efforts and farmland and open-space protection. A reinvigorated state plan could be a powerful statewide planning tool to promote consistency among municipal and regional plans and to encourage development in desired locations. Similar policies have worked across the country. At least 16 states have adopted comprehensive smart growth acts, which is development that preserves open space and uses existing infrastructure whenever possible. Their ranks are growing. Regional land-use planning in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maryland helps officials coordinate investments in roads and sewers. Concurrency requirements like those in Florida require infrastructure to be in place by the time development takes place. Several states have approved or are considering “fix it first” legislation requiring state agencies to focus spending on repairing existing infrastructure instead of building new facilities. These ideas serve as a starting point for a larger discussion on how northeast Connecticut can preserve its scenic environment while accommodating sustainable growth. A credible and effective system that promotes local, regional and statewide cooperation will pay dividends for the region and its people for generations to come.
Myron Orfield is director of the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota Law School and president of Ameregis, a research firm in Minneapolis. He co-authored the Connecticut Metropatterns report, released in March. To find the complete report, 25.1MB (takes a while to download), click HERE.
What would have been the effect of the onetime proposed BHC (Kelda) water line across Godfrey Road (and down Valley Forge) on the large, open parcels nearby as well as the CLASS II (i.e. flows toward CLASS I water body) BHC lands? Higher density uses and zone changes could have developed there. Pick out your favorite "white" colored properties on the EXISTING LAND USE MAP and consider the possibilities for alternative land uses!
located in the upper right of any SWRPA regional map. We show a
low density development pattern. State Plan of C&D 2005-2010
map of SWRPA Region explains why north of the Merritt Parkway has not
developed. Pink and red areas indicate where infrastructure
Change to definition of "rural" lands
zoning in the new CT Plan still does not make
density inconsistent with the effort to most efficiently
develop the lands of the State of CT..
In addition, the completion of a full interchange at the Merritt Parkway and Route Seven has benn halted by the Courts (2006), which put completion of new "Super Seven" in limbo.
...RURAL AREAS (pages 74-77 of the CT
PLAN of C&D 2005-2010):
...RURAL AREAS (pages 74-77 of the CT
PLAN of C&D 2005-2010):
western and eastern uplands of the state and areas along
Development at “in between” densities (greater than one half acre to approximately one and a half acre lot per dwelling) tends to increase the demand for public services but make their provision inefficient and expensive. Accommodating future economic development, job creation, industrial diversification, needed social services and availability of public transportation while maintaining the desirable qualities of rural towns is thus a critical planning concern at state, regional and local levels.
Rural area goals as set forth in Executive Order No. 31 (October 1980) are as follows:
This Plan seeks to properly scale responses to identified rural economic and social issues and to concentrate development activities within or adjacent to traditional village areas in order to maintain rural character and to protect environmentally sensitive places. Techniques such as open space development (cluster development with its primary aim the preservation of open space), regulations to encourage new development that mesh with historical development, mixed use development in community centers, and traditional street networks are some of the methods to maintain rural character and the resources that define that character.
Investment in infrastructure has shaped community character. Public sewer and water systems and highway improvements support urban scale and densities that are not consistent with rural character. Recent advances in on-site wastewater treatment technology have the potential to complicate greatly the issue of infrastructure in rural land use, even though their use will continue to be limited by soils and groundwater conditions. Their greater treatment efficiencies may enable substantially larger and more intensive development projects without conventional sewer service. Yet, they may also provide communities more flexibility in applying such techniques as cluster development and community centers.
Development and infrastructure in rural areas should be guided by the following guidelines:
o Encourage development in Rural Lands of a form, density, and location compatible with the carrying capacity of the natural environment, and which avoids the need for large scale and costly urban infrastructure for water supply, waste disposal, and transportation;
rural plans and land use regulations to protect the rural environment
controls and techniques, such as cluster subdivisions, that direct
patterns in conformity with rural values.
Further, rural communities should pursue a watershed planning
that encourages inter-town cooperation to promote water quality and
the concentration of higher density or multiple use development into
Community Centers where practical and consistent with historic
support industrial and business development within Rural Community
of a scale and type which respond to an existing local employment need
inducing major development;
o Promote development and refinement of design and engineering standards for community infrastructure and facilities that are consistent with historic rural character and natural resource values, while adequately meeting public health and safety concerns;
new projects are consistent with “rural design” principles and do not
unacceptable adverse impacts upon districts and sites of historic
important natural areas or concentrations of prime farmland;
industrial and business development within Rural Community Centers only
scale and type which respond to an existing local employment need
inducing major development;
application of best available design practices and control methods to
water pollution sources;
priority to transportation improvement projects that recognize and
the viability and character of village centers, particularly with
pedestrian access and safety;
greenway projects that provide links both to and within Rural Community
and that provide alternative transportation and recreation
highway interchanges in urban rather than rural areas to support the
concentration of growth in those areas;
the capacity and safety of existing state roads through cooperative
with municipalities to control the number and location of access
Improve traffic flow on existing highways, where feasible, as a
alternative to the construction of new highways;
significant natural areas, resources and ecological systems in order to
and enhance the local economy and quality of life;
pursue sewer avoidance programs and limit development to those uses and
densities that ensure indefinite functioning of on-lot or small
supply and waste disposal systems, review zoning regulation and
insufficient lot sizes, assure sufficient oversight of the permitting
maintenance of septic systems to ensure that on-site septic systems
indefinitely, and encourage enactment of local ordinances that require
tanks to be inspected every three to five years and pumped out as
needed; further, limit of water pollution
facilities to project costs required to correct an existing pollution
problem (as environmental carrying capacity depends
on many factors, site-specific factors and proper installation and
have to be considered in any decisions as related to actual lot size);
o Support application of advanced on-site wastewater treatment technologies only when their long term functioning is assured and only where the development they support meshes with and complements existing rural patterns and avoids scattered development; in particular, they may be necessary:
· To develop affordable housing in conformance with local and regional plans,
· To support higher intensity uses and economic development within Rural Community Centers, or
· To enable cluster development to preserve environmental resources;
o Support the introduction or expansion of public facilities or services only when there is a demonstrated environmental, economic, social, or general welfare concern and then introduce such services only at a scale which responds to the existing need without serving as an attraction to more intensive development. An exception may be made to assist municipalities in the provision of infrastructure to service a particular site when: a) there is a definite commitment from a firm to relocate to the site in the immediate future; b) substantial employment will result from the relocation; c) a feasible site is not available within a development area; d) a project plan is prepared which sets forth the costs and the anticipated economic, social, and environmental impacts including availability of affordable housing; and e) there is no overriding environmental condition or concern that would preclude such service.
o Limit the extension of public water supply infrastructure to rural areas by using individual wells where well capacity is adequate.
Similar to the State Plan of Conservation and Development, the SWRPA vision for Weston is "rural" land and "low density neighborhoods"--plus a "Town Center" in the same places as such land uses exist today. Read the whole CT Plan here.
explanation of what the previous State of Connecticut Plan of
Conservation and Development
has to say about the role of WATER QUALITY as a planning determinant,
A new map showing 1999 development (also shown above) and one just of permanent open space appear HERE. Photographs of major sights and new construction since previous Town Plan (1987) appear HERE.
First Selectwoman Diane Farrell said during the ordinance discussion and in private discussions, she has heard a number of complaints about other noise concerns in town, and she is working to control those problems. During the RTM meeting last fall, she said, she made a promise that she would follow up on the other noise issues and seek solutions for them. The most common complaints she has heard, she said, are about leaf-blowers and air-conditioning units.
Planning and Zoning Commission Chairwoman Eleanor Lowenstein will run the meeting, Farrell said, because many of the issues will also need to be examined by the commission. Lowenstein said the commission has not heard of major noise issues, but she knows the staff in the Planning and Zoning Department along with police have heard complaints from residents.
"There is a lot of building going on, and people are living closer to each other," she said. Construction has been the biggest issue, she said, and the RTM successfully controlled those problems with the ordinance changes. The town's zoning regulations regarding noise, however, are general, Lowenstein said. The regulations say that anything that creates any "periodic and/or abnormal noise, vibration, electro-magnetic or other disturbance perceptible beyond the boundaries of the lot on which it is situated" is not allowed in town.
said the regulation is old and may be out of compliance with the state
standards, so the commission may need to review it. "Right now I
just want to know the issues," she said. "We need to get the
at this point to see what we need to discuss."
Tracy Kulikowski: Weston names new land use director
by BRIAN GIOIELE
Nov 21, 2006
After more than a year of
searching, local leaders found their new land use director right under
The Board of Selectmen Thursday approved the appointment of Tracy Kulikowski — who had been the administrative assistant to the owner’s representative for the school building project — as the land use director. She is set to begin her new role Jan. 2.
“You know Tracy from her work with (owner’s representative) Carl Goedeke and the School Building Committee over the last two years,” said Tom Landry, town administrator, in a letter to the Board of Selectmen. “She has been a terrific asset to that project, and I have been pleased to have her assistance over that time.”
While Ms. Kulikowski has been known for her work with Mr. Goedeke, Mr. Landry said, she also has extensive experience as a professional planner.
Ms. Kulikowski worked for eight years as a professional planner for the state of Maryland, the town of Lakewood, Ohio, and on a regional planning commission in Ohio.
She holds an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in urban and regional studies, as well as a master’s degree in urban planning, design, and development from Cleveland State University. She also has a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.
“I have no doubt that she will be successful in the position,” added Mr. Landry, “and I am genuinely excited by the prospect of her joining our staff.”
Ms. Kulikowski will work 20 hours per week, at an hourly rate of $37.11. She will receive health, retirement and other fringe benefits, as provided for 20-plus hour employees in the town’s personnel policies and practices handbook.
This brings to a close the search for a land use director, a position that was created last year at the request of Mr. Landry. The selectmen and Board of Finance approved the new position, and it was budgeted for in last year’s fiscal year budget, but no candidate could be found to fill the vacancy. According to Mr. Landry’s letter to the selectmen, he had been in negotiations with the new collective bargaining unit in an attempt to allow a current, unidentified, town employee — presently a member of the bargaining unit — to take the “non-bargaining unit” post.
“It is now certain that a middle ground agreement on the issue is not possible,” stated Mr. Landry. “Accordingly, I must now pursue other options to fill this critical position.”
And that option was Ms. Kulikowski, who will now provide additional professional planning assistance to the Conservation Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).
Mr. Landry first proposed this new post in August 2005, saying that his assessment was that the town’s land use staff is “challenged in meeting the demands posed by the complexity and volume of land use permits and subdivision applications we receive.”
He then proposed that the town organize its current land use personnel into a single Land Use Department under the supervisory direction of a new full-time position entitled director of land use services.
“A department head position can maximize the utilization of the staff and resources that we do have, and can assure that applications receive a comprehensive, rather than a piecemeal, review,” he wrote at the time.
He noted the P&Z Commission has no professional staff to provide direction and assistance in plan review or ordinance revision, and that issues before the commission are increasingly technical and complex.
Weston is an imaginary island - above, a real one!
County finally sues over Greenbank beach access dispute
Greenbank property owner Bruce Montgomery speaks to a reporter during a community demonstration on Wonn Road in early 2009. Island County is suing
By JUSTIN BURNETT, South Whidbey Record Langley, Island County
March 17, 2013 · Updated 1:29 PM
The long wait for Island County to take legal action against a Greenbank property owner and reclaim a disputed public beach access has finally come to an end. March 6, the Island County Prosecutor’s Office filed a civil lawsuit against Wonn Road property owner and pharmaceutical giant Bruce Montgomery. The suit asks for ejectment and quiet title, declaratory relief and to abate a public nuisance. In layman’s terms, the county is seeking to lay legal rights to the disputed beach access, once and for all.
“The county is trying to reclaim the road for public use, all the way to the water,” said David Jamieson, chief civil deputy for the prosecutor’s office.
As of Friday, Montgomery’s attorney, Dennis Dunphy of the regional law firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, had not filed a response to the county’s summons and complaint. In an interview this week, Montgomery said he hopes to resolve the issue out of court with a meeting of attorneys. But he won’t back down from a legal battle if push comes to shove.
“We’ll just have to see what happens,” Montgomery said.
He maintains the property is his and called the county’s case “thin.” He said he believes it will crumble under the weight of property records that prove private ownership and past determinations by former county officials.
“It’s a rifle shot lawsuit,” Montgomery said.
The issue erupted nearly five years ago when Montgomery built a rock wall at the end of Wonn Road. The road end is adjacent to his home and forms the beginning of his driveway.
Montgomery claims the wall was constructed to keep people from driving on his drain field, which is located in the grassy area between the end of Wonn Road and the shoreline. Members of the community, among them the late Glen Russell, were quick to cry foul, noting the road end was once the head of the long-gone Greenbank Wharf and that the area was always a public beach access. It was also quickly pointed out that state law clearly states county road-ends are public beach accesses and cannot legally be abandoned by government to neighboring private property owners.
In the summer of 2008, the controversy boiled over into an election issue and the Island County commissioners began taking steps that preceded legal action. It was another nine months, however, before the board voted to do whatever it takes to reclaim the property and authorized the prosecutor’s office to take Montgomery to court.
That was in late March 2009.
According to Jamieson, the delay is the result of the extensive research needed to build a strong case. Years of land use records and photographic evidence were examined, he said. Mike McVay, founder of Island Citizens for Public Beach Access, said it was a long time to wait, so long that many had begun to question whether the county would follow through with the board’s promise. In fact, McVay said he’s still not convinced the county will go the distance and fight the case to the end. He’s concerned Montgomery has deep enough pockets to financially outlast the cash-strapped county.
“I’m apprehensive is the way to put it,” McVay said.
“We’re hoping for the best.”
Montgomery is founder and CEO of Cardeas Pharma, a Seattle-based pharmaceutical developer. Before that, he was a senior vice president and head of Respiratory Therapeutic for Gilead Sciences Inc., an international biopharmaceutical company with offices in Seattle. Contrary to the assertions of beach access advocates and county litigators that the property is public, Montgomery claims to have records proving the land was in private hands for nearly 70 years. He says he’s had the information for some time, but that no county official asked for the documents.
“I think that’s nuts,” Montgomery said.
He also maintains that former county Assessor Dave Mattens reviewed the issue nearly five years ago and determined the property indeed belonged to Montgomery. He even sent him a bill for back taxes.
“This is atypical,” said Mattens, in a June 2008 story that ran in the South Whidbey Record. “Usually the county owns the tidelands at the end of a public road.”
In an interview this week, Mattens said he has little recollection of the broader issue, much less the details of an analysis performed by his office. Also, he said any determination should be taken with a grain of salt; the assessor’s job is to determine property values, not decide boundary lines.
“Even if I did say it was his, who am I to decide ownership,” Mattens said.
Montgomery says he can’t understand how the county can claim ownership rights when he for years paid property taxes on the same land that’s under dispute. He claims the dueling position is going on to this day, despite the recent litigation against him.
“The same week they (the county) sued me, they sent me a property tax bill,” Montgomery said.
Jamieson said he’s not sure what property documents Montgomery referred to, so couldn’t address why they were requested. The county’s claim is based on the plat, he said, which is a publicly recorded document.
As for property taxes, Jamieson said it’s an Assessor’s Office matter and could not confirm the claim. He did argue, however, that he didn’t think there is anything unreasonable about Montgomery being charged property taxes because he used the land for years.
“If the court agrees with us, he won’t have to pay the taxes in the future,” Jamieson said.
Greenwich P&Z questions: When is lot line change more than a lot line change? Did P&Z increase any non-conformity?
Weston has non-conforming lots (in red above) as well as a special permit for houses of worship (revised 2011) - from the Town of Weston website.
Opponents plan to sue over
Frank MacEachern, Greenwich TIME
Updated 10:19 pm, Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Opponents of a proposed synagogue in Cos Cob are vowing a court challenge after a key decision by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday allows the Greenwich Reform Synagogue to proceed with its plan.
The commission ruled that a lot line revision, needed for the synagogue to have enough land to build at 92 Orchard St., was neither a subdivision nor a resubdivision. It agreed with synagogue lawyer Thomas Heagney's assertion the application was a simple lot line revision.
Sarah Darer Littman, one of the leaders in the opposition to the synagogue's plans, said the fight would continue.
"I think they can count on the fact we will be filing an appeal," she said in brief comments before opponents huddled with their lawyer, Mario Coppola, in a room at Town Hall to plot their next move.
"It is disappointing," Coppola said in comments after the decision. "They made the easy decision, but unfortunately they didn't make the right decision."
Heagney, not surprisingly, took an opposite view.
"They have done dozens of applications like this. They have gone ahead and followed the same process."
About 100 people in the Town Hall Meeting Room greeted the commission's decision with silence.
In October, the synagogue purchased 92 Orchard St., a lot of less than 1 acre that is not large enough for its building.
The synagogue was successful Tuesday in its application to split in two the adjacent property at 96 Orchard St., with about 38,000 square feet joined to 92 Orchard St., while the balance, about 12,450 square feet, would stay in the hands of property owner Lou Caravella.
The commission had to approve that lot-line revision before the synagogue could formally acquire the section of 96 Orchard St., it wanted as well as another nearby property at 22 Osee Place, owned by Randy Caravella, Lou Caravella's son. The combined properties would give the synagogue a 2-acre site.
About a half-dozen residents voiced opposition to the synagogue's plan before the commission made its decision.
They were reminded by commission Chairman Donald Heller that comments could only be about the lot-line revision application and not about future uses of the property. The commission cannot consider what may be proposed because no plan has been submitted, Heller said.
Among the speakers was Littman, who was upset that the applicant had referred to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act in its application. The federal law adopted in 2000 allows religious institutions to avoid what are deemed burdensome zoning regulations.
"The applicant is trying to have it both ways," she said. "The commission is telling us we cannot look forward in terms of the application, yet the applicant's attorney is trying to bring up RLUIPA, which is based on a religious use, and as our attorney rightfully pointed out, at this point, there is no religious use.
"I think they are trying to intimidate the commission by pulling the RLUIPA card, and I think that they are trying to have it both ways and that it's wrong."
Littman, who is Jewish, has previously said neighbors were not opposed to the proposal because it is a synagogue, but instead of fears it would lead to increased traffic and a large building that does not fit in the neighborhood.
Although comments were to be limited to the lot-line revision application, the commission did not cut off a developer who said a synagogue would overwhelm neighbors.
Riverside resident Carl Anderson brought along an artist's rendition of a 10,000-square-foot Georgian Colonial he built in the late 1990s in a community of homes about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet. He said the home was much larger than the surrounding homes.
He questioned how a synagogue, originally pegged to be about 20,000 square feet, would look in the Cos Cob neighborhood.
"How is a structure twice the size going to look in a residential neighborhood where the houses are that size," he said. "I don't think it is proper, and it doesn't belong in that location."
He said the building should be erected in areas along Route 1, warning of a precedent that could allow other religious institutions to be built in residential zones.
The synagogue's president, Robert Birnbaum, said they anticipate a building less than 20,000 square feet.
Heagney said the next move for the synagogue is to hire an architect and develop its plans.
Definition of "noisy" worries animal not specifically named (l). How loud can Bossie "mooooo" without infringing on zoning?
Lower CT River Valley Council of Government comes to the rescue, pointing out that a less restrictive zoning amendment might be to propose an overall "noise" ordinance.
Many Crying 'Fowl' Over Request for Zoning Amendment
By Marianne Sullivan Courier Senior Staff Writer
Article published Dec 26, 2012
CHESTER - A request by Story Hill Road residents John and Bonnie Bennet to amend the town's zoning regulations concerning the keeping of livestock, or more specifically, hens, roosters, and "noisy fowl and other animals" is creating a considerable flap around town. The controversy has caused the Planning & Zoning Commission to move the required public hearing from its usual venue, which is the Meeting House, to a larger space, the Chester Elementary School gymnasium. There are also rumors of petitions "with hundreds of signatures" circulating throughout town.
The Bennets have filed a petition with the Planning & Zoning Commission seeking to amend a section of the zoning regulations referring to definitions for "livestock" and Section 40R "animals." The amendment asks for changes in the lot size of properties where rabbits and hens are kept, increasing the area size from 10,000 square feet, as presently required, to 40,000 square feet. It also seeks to increase setback requirements for animal enclosures for hens and rabbits to 100 feet "from any dwelling in existence" other than another enclosure for hens or rabbits. The present zoning regulation calls for only a 50-foot setback.
The Bennet request also adds new language to section 40R.1, "Hens and Rabbits." The regulation is intended to make provision for the limited keeping of rabbits and hens. The Bennets seek to add the wording "on certain residential properties for the personal convenience and personal benefits afforded by such use, in a manner which preserves the quality of life of the surrounding neighborhood."
The amendment also calls for "no rooster or capon" on any property and adds, "No fowl which crows, calls, screeches, squawks, or makes similar other sounds, including and by the way of example, but not limited to, guinea fowl, peacocks or peahens, geese, parrots, macaws, or similar calling species shall be kept on any property."
The original petition also added a new subsection to the regulation entitled "noisy fowl and other animals," which sought to prohibit the keeping of any animal that "howls, barks, brays, bellows, calls, screeches, squawks, or makes other sounds" that would be considered a nuisance by persons living in the immediate neighborhood.
The Bennets chose to withdraw this "noisy fowl" addition when J.H. Torrence Downes, a senior planner with the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments, in reviewing the application for the regional agency, suggested that it might be too restrictive.
In his comments to the Planning & Zoning Commission, Downes said, "Although there appear to be little in the way of adverse impacts to surrounding towns, it is noted that the proposed modifications appear to be extremely restrictive and may adversely impact the agricultural activities in the town?Perhaps a less restrictive and subjective regulation could be devised that will succeed in minimizing whatever 'nuisance' is being experienced or anticipated by the petitioner."
Bennet, in a follow-up letter to the Planning Commission, said he respected Downes's view and took his comment seriously: "It is not and has not been the idea of the proposed amendment to interfere with or restrict legitimate, competently conducted agricultural activities. I would not want the language used as a tool for that purpose. Therefore I withdraw that portion of the application which proposes a new section."
The public hearing on the proposed amendment is set for Thursday, Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m. at Chester Elementary School.
This is what we called "The
Heart of the City" many, many years ago...a
report we rendered to the P&Z in the 1970's.
The Norwalk River Valley Trail is what we had hoped would develop, opening to river to the people and forming a link between the two "downtowns"
Westport helps map the future with updated GIS web portal
Andrew Brophy, Westport News
Updated 08:16 a.m., Saturday, February 18, 2012
Westport residents who like to explore the town without leaving their homes may be somewhat confused by a new "public viewer" on the town's website.
But Peter Ratkiewich, the town engineer, sought Thursday to clear up any confusion by hosting the first of four sessions in Town Hall's auditorium on how the new public viewer works on the website page: http://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=538
"This is really the first time we've done this and invited the public," Ratkiewich said toward the end of the 90-minute tutorial on how residents can find maps and aerial views of all the properties in Westport, along with information on the location and type of wetlands in Westport, zoning data and town permits. "The viewer has changed and changed significantly. It's similar to when Microsoft said, `We're not going to be doing DOS anymore; we're moving to Windows.' "
Westport and Bridgeport are the only Fairfield County municipalities Ratkiewich knows of that enable residents to access this information without going to Town Hall, and Westport's system has been publicly available since 2005. It was recently changed because Esri, the company that provides the software, changed the software platform that supports the public viewer.
"I think the main difference is it's a different platform from which to launch. This is a much more powerful platform to project GIS [Geographic Information System] data on," Ratkiewich said.
About a dozen people in the audience, many of whom were town employees, followed along on laptops as Ratkiewich explained how to zoom in and out on properties, pull up information on properties, measure distances between two points, get a rough estimate of a house's square footage, and "layer" maps to reveal more or less information -- zoom out and you get street lines and town boundary lines; zoom in and you get parcel lines, rights-of-way and easements; zoom in more and you get driveways, buildings and rough contours of the land.
Residents can also "layer" the maps to find wetlands, flood zones and what zoning classification a property is in, Ratkiewich said. "You can manually remove layers. The fewer layers you show, the easier it is for this map to regenerate a view," he said.
The new system also allows users to combine properties to see how much land is available for a subdivision and has pre-set maps of well-known places in town. "If you add a place to this list, it's not stored on your computer, it's stored on our computer," Ratkiewich said, adding that town officials would have to start deleting pre-set maps if hundreds are added.
Ratkiewich cautioned that maps on the public viewer are not "survey quality" and date to 2005. "If you really need to get down to cubic feet of fill and removal, you really need to go out in the field," he said.
However, permit information, which covers from 1990 to present, is updated daily and shows active, approved, closed and voided permits, along with certificates of occupancy. Parcel information, such as the owner's name, is updated quarterly, Ratkiewich said.
Westport had planned to update its maps every five years, but they didn't in 2010 due to the bad economy, Ratkiewich said. "It costs about $150,000 to fly the town and build a new model. It's hard to get $150,000 out of the taxpayers these days when it's not a critical task," he said. "It is a very useful system. Eventually it will be updated."
But Westport officials have talked with other towns to see if they want to combine efforts to lower the cost, Ratkiewich said. "We're trying every avenue we can find to get the data updated," he said.
In addition to maps, Ratkiewich also explained how to search for a specific property by address, owner name or parcel ID. "Most people, when they come onto the GIS, are usually looking for a piece of property," he said.
The new public viewer also enables residents to draw a 250-foot radius around a property in case they have to contact neighbors, and they can get mailing labels for those properties off the new system, Ratkiewich said.
The public viewer isn't just useful to developers, architects, engineers and attorneys, according to Ratkiewich. "This is useful even to the average person. Most people aren't aware of its usefulness until they start looking at it. How many people have a good aerial view of their property and the relation of the property line to their house?" he asked.
Residents can access the new public viewer via www.westportct.gov. Their computers should have Internet Explorer 8 or better and "pop up blockers" need to be turned off.
Additional tutorials are planned at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. March 1 in Westport Town Hall's auditorium.
These things happen in CT, too!
Engineers watch Texas homes
for more moving soil
By MICHELLE ROBERTS, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jan 27, 8:51 am ET
SAN ANTONIO – Residents of 25 homes evacuated after a landslide split a retaining wall and threatened to topple hilltop homes will not be allowed to return for at least 10 days as engineers watch for further soil movement, the developer said Tuesday.
The residents, who live within one block of the slide, were evacuated Sunday after a man called 911 and told officials his backyard was sliding downhill. Enormous chasms, some 15-feet deep, quickly emerged, splitting a towering retaining wall below and exposing the foundations of three hilltop homes.
The developer, Centex Homes, worked Monday and Tuesday to stabilize the homes and the hillside. The land was still moving slightly Tuesday, but engineers believed it was nearly stable, said Laurin Darnell, a Centex vice president.
About 90 homes were initially evacuated, but residents farther from the slide were allowed to return Monday. No one was injured.
Valerie Dolenga, a spokeswoman for Pulte Homes Inc., Centex's parent company, said about half of the residents who remain evacuated may be able to return in the next 10 to 15 days after soil engineers make sure their property is stable.
The other residents, whose homes sit on and below the crumbling hilltop, will be displaced longer as officials determine whether the houses can be made safe, Darnell said. The company is working with those families to find longer-term accommodations, he said.
Pulte's engineers continue to investigate the cause of the landslide, but San Antonio Planning and Development Director Roderick Sanchez said improper construction of the 30-foot tall, 1,000-foot long retaining wall and improper compacting of the fill dirt on the home sites caused the slide.
Darnell conceded Centex had no city permit to build the retaining wall, but he said he thought the company followed city regulations and standard industry practices in its construction. He disputed the city's allegation that the wall was improperly built.
An earlier retaining wall was torn down and the current one built after engineers found drainage problems in 2007, he said.
The company's engineers "feel this is very much an isolated incident. They feel it's being driven by some unique soil characteristics at the site," he said. He declined to describe those characteristics or comment on them further.
The engineering investigation should yield more answers on the slide's cause in the next couple of days, Darnell said.
"I know people want information now. We do more than anybody, but it's important that we do this in a methodical way," he said.
The development, which was started near the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2004, has nearly 750 homes with others still under construction. The upper middle-class neighborhood, with houses that sell for $250,000, is among dozens that sprung up on the hilly northwestern outskirts of San Antonio as the city grew to be the nation's seventh largest.
City officials released a statement Tuesday saying they would have an inspector monitor construction in the development and hire an independent structural engineer to evaluate whether the homes are safe. The city also plans to check permits for all other retaining walls Pulte built in the city.
Texas has a Residential Construction Commission with the power to perform inspections, determine fault and suggest remedies in incidents like this, but the state Legislature did not reauthorize the commission during the last session, so it can't take on this case.
Patrick Fortner, the commission's acting executive director, said complaints are being referred to local authorities or the Texas Attorney General's Office. Residents may want to have their homes independently inspected if they're worried about stability, he said.
SHORELINE CONNECTICUT THEN AND NOW
How zoning enforcement tries making a difference in keeping the rural look alive on Connecticut's shoreline...Old Lyme hopes it can and so do we!
Old Lyme schedules hearing on proposal to register cottages
By Jenna Cho
Published on 9/12/2009
Old Lyme - Some summer cottages intended for seasonal use have for years been occupied year-round.
In 1995, in an attempt to figure out exactly which cottages were seasonal and which were used year-round, the zoning enforcement officer made the determination based on whatever information the town had on file, land-use attorney Eric Knapp said.
Weighs Development That Could
Reshape Town; Hearing Tonight On 'Gateway': Retail And Housing Near
By Karin Crompton
Published on 5/17/2007
East Lyme — It's a scary thought for a lot of people in town: amending zoning regulations to allow development of a gigantic store surrounded by five other big stores, restaurants and a road leading to the biggest neighborhood in East Lyme.
That's what's currently in front of the Zoning Commission.
Two developers, Konover Properties Corp. of West Hartford and KGI Properties LLC of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have teamed to apply for a regulation change on 200 acres adjacent to Interstate 95 at Exit 74. The area includes property where The Shack restaurant and a driving range are located.
The second public hearing on the plan is set for 7:30 tonight at the senior center. The applicant is expected to wrap up its presentation, and the public will have a chance to comment. No decision is expected tonight. The regulation change would allow a Home Depot-size anchor store of up to 140,000 square feet — seven times the square footage now permitted.
The application also seeks approval for five “junior anchor stores” ranging from 25,000 to 90,000 square feet, no more than two of which could exceed 50,000 square feet. The development plan also calls for hundreds of residential units. A boulevard would snake throughout the village and the existing I-95 ramps would be realigned. The entire area would be referred to as Gateway Commons.
Niantic attorney Ted Harris submitted a sketchbook at the last meeting to give the commission an idea of what the project could look like. William Mulholland, the town's zoning official, called the sketches a “visual aid.” According to the sketchbook, early plans for the 140,000-square-foot building would have it look like a collection of small stores resembling those in Mystic or outlet malls in Westbrook and Clinton.
If the regulation change is approved, the commission would have control over the design of the development, Mulholland said, and could prevent the developer from changing course and returning with a plan for a big-box store with an entirely different look.
The applicant's approach is atypical. Instead of providing the smallest details of an overall plan, the developers are first offering a glimpse of their ultimate goal and working backwards. The idea is called “form-based zoning,” an approach Mulholland called “cutting-edge.”
“You look at the development first and then layer the other issues, such as lighting and design and drainage and traffic, underneath that,” he said. “It's, 'This is what we could get, what it could look like — now how do we do that appropriately?' ”
The regulation change, or text amendment, is the first step.
Mulholland outlined a three-step process that would require approval of the text amendment; approval of a master plan, which would require a special permit and the applicant to provide details, including a traffic study and specifics on architecture; and approval of a site plan for “anything and everything.”
Mulholland said the town has used the approach in considering the Chapman Farms, Spinnaker, Chapman Woods and Darrow Pond developments. The conceptual plan for the Gateway Commons project shows a revamped exit/entrance off I-95 that travels west of the existing ramp. An existing pool store would remain, and the ramp would be on the other side of it.
The ramp would route traffic into the commercial part of the development, with a fork that would allow drivers to travel toward Gateway Commons or toward Route 161. The residential area would be separate from the commercial section, with a road connecting the two.
Some neighbors of the proposed project have expressed concerns about it. According to minutes of the first public hearing two weeks ago, they asked about buffers, traffic and the potential impact on the aquifer in the area and the town's tax base, among other issues.
Study Shows Poverty Follows Families To The Nation's Suburbs
By Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Writer
Published on 12/7/2006
Washington — As Americans flee the cities for the suburbs, many are failing to leave poverty behind.
The suburban poor outnumbered their inner-city counterparts for the first time last year, with more than 12 million suburban residents living in poverty, according to a study of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas released Thursday.
“Economies are regional now,” said Alan Berube, who co-wrote the report for the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. “Where you see increases in city poverty, in almost every metropolitan area, you also see increases in suburban poverty.”
Nationally, the poverty rate leveled off last year at 12.6 percent after increasing every year since the decade began. It was a period when the country went through a recession and an uneven recovery that is still sputtering in parts of the Northeast and Midwest.
“Looking back at the 1970s, you would have seen cities suffering and suburbs staying the same,” said Berube, research director at the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. “But the story is different today.”
Berube said several factors are contributing to an increase in suburban poverty:
• Suburbs are adding people much faster than cities, making it inevitable that the number of poor people living in suburbs would eventually surpass those living in cities.
• The poverty rate in large cities (18.8 percent) is still higher than it is in the suburbs (9.4 percent). But the overall number of people living in poverty is higher in the suburbs in part because of population growth.
• America's suburbs are becoming more diverse, racially and economically. “There's poverty really everywhere in metropolitan areas because there are low-wage jobs everywhere,” Berube said.
• Recent immigrants are increasingly bypassing cities and moving directly to suburbs, especially in the South and West. Those immigrants, on average, have lower incomes than people born in the United States.