Firm promises public participation

Residents who had asked for social media participation on the town’s new Plan of Conservation and Development should get their wish according to the firm working on the document.
Staff members of Milone and Macbroom, Inc., the Cheshire-based consulting firm that will compile the work, promised members of the Planning and Zoning Commission during the first meeting on the plan Sept. 18 that they will institute a web page and email communication.
“There will be a website for the plan,” said Patrick Gallagher, a planner with the firm. “There will be focus groups.”
The plan has to be updated under state law every 10 years. The latest plan was adopted on Jan. 1, 2010, and the 10th anniversary is down the road. First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice said Town Planner Bob Nerney wanted to get started in 2018, rather than wait another year, because interest in development on Route 7 has been running high.
“I think it’s something the town will be pursuing in the not-so-distant future,” Nerney said earlier this year of the work, which would involve gathering thoughts and opinions from a number of boards and commissions in town.
“My guess is there may be a focus on economic development opportunities in town, and trying to balance those with more traditional objectives on the quality of life,” Nerney said.
He said of number of unexpected things have occurred since the 2010 plan was adopted, like the recovery from the Great Recession, after which there has been a greater interest in economic development and a realization that it is an important component of the quality of life.
“The quality of life with the community is tied to planning initiatives,” Nerney said.
It’s not strictly a Planning and Zoning document.
“It’s really a town-wide document, integrating all these ideas, and it involves a lot of public discussion,” Nerney said.
Charrettes, meetings at which the public may share ideas, will be scheduled.
The question of what town boards and commissions will add to the plan is up in the air. As for the Planning and Zoning Commission, members told the representative of the firm Sept. 18 what they believe to be the town’s strengths and weaknesses.
Route 7, a commercial strip, is a strength on one hand, and a weakness on the other because of the traffic jams. The highly educated workforce is another strength.
The excellent school system is also a strength, the commissioners said.