Attendance sparse at POCD meetings

Public attendance and participation in the Plan of Conservation and Development has been disappointing, according to First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice.

“We haven’t had a large number of residents attending; the number of residents has decreased,” Vanderslice told members of the Board of Selectmen March 19. She reiterated this at a meeting April 2.

The POCD meetings are run by the Planning and Zoning Commission. They typically feature a presentation by the consultant, Milone & MacBroom, on a breakout topic like housing or transportation, with opportunities for public comment and participation. The meetings have attracted 30 or 40 people, typically.

“They decided to have these individual workshops with the hope that with multiple meetings rather than a couple you would increase the chance of more people attending, but it is not working out that way,” Vanderslice said.

The next POCD meetings for public participation are scheduled for:

  • Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m. at Trackside Teen Center on community facilities and infrastructure.

  • Thursday, May 17, at 7 p.m. at Trackside on Wilton Center and the villages.

  • Thursday, June 21, at 7 p.m. at Trackside on conservation, preservation and sustainability.

The consultant and Scott Lawrence, chairman of the commission, did not return emails seeking comment on what to do about the low attendance. Bob Nerney, the town’s planning director, said some meetings are better attended than others.

“The last one was transportation, including Route 7, which was not as highly attended as was housing, several meetings before. That’s part of it,” Nerney said. “Certainly a lot of effort has been made to write in to newspapers about these meetings, and there is a website specific to the plan people can follow. Strong efforts have been made to engage people. The commission and working group welcome attendance because it’s important for people to speak to their concerns and issues and interest, but there are some topics that may resonate a little more strongly than others.

In a related matter, the selectmen April 2 authorized a supplemental funding request for the consultant on the POCD to be paid $102,700, rather than $100,000. The reason for the extra pay is because of more meetings than originally anticipated.

Updated every 10 years, the POCD is a guide for conservation and land use with input from all boards and commissions as well as the public. Information: