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Residents Offer Thoughts on How Stonington Should Grow

A public survey is available online and at Town Hall that offers residents and business owners the opportunity to provide input.

The Plan of Conservation and Development Subcommittee will spend the next 12 plus months creating a blue print for how Stonington plans to develop over the next 10 to 20 years, but it’s unlikely everyone will be happy with the end plan.

According to Town Planner Keith Brynes the document serves as a guide for the Planning and Zoning Commission and covers natural resources, economic development, housing, land use and more.

The Plan of Conservation and Development Subcommittee hopes the PZC will be able to adopt the plan by the spring or early summer of 2014. The Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) is required under state law and must be updated every 10 years. The PZC adopted the current POCD in June of 2004. It took 18 months to complete and includes chapters and sections on community issues, resource protection, villages’ protection and enhancements, a how-to on guiding appropriate development and desired growth and future land use. The plan is available on the Stonington Town website at www.stonington-ct.gov/Pages?StoningtonCT_Planning/ConservationPlan.

On Monday evening the subcommittee held the first of what it hopes will be a total of four public input meetings.

“POCDs just work better when they reflect the feelings of local residents,” Brynes said.

But the feelings of local residents are not always the same, and the POCD Subcommittee will have to find a way to balance the needs and wants of all the town residents.

The POCD Subcommittee and residents discussed three broad topics: what does the town want to protect, how does the town want to grow and what services does the town want to provide.

The most popular topic was what does the town want to protect, but while the majority of residents spoke about the need to protect open space they differed on what open space means.

“When you look at the various recourses we want to protect the question it ends at is means,” resident Harry White said. “Are we talking golf courses, are we talking inaccessible open space, or are we talking space that connects people to nature.”

And resident Pat Ryan pointed out that while open space is nice the town should also want to protect businesses and jobs.

In terms of growth several residents spoke of the importance of affordable housing and drawing younger people back to the area, which raised a question of whatever or not the POCD should target a demographic.

Glenn Chalder the moderator from the planning firm Planimetrics, said towns normally do not target a demographic in their plans but the POCD subcommittee said it was something they would consider if that was what residents wanted.

Several residents also brought up the Mystic Mobility Study and sidewalks in general under services they thought the town should provide. Connecting the sidewalks to be accessible to Stonington Public School students deemed as walkers listed were services some residents wanted the town to consider providing. The discussion however made its way back to if the services provided should be for the current demographic and what the demographic will look like in 2030 or if the services should be used to draw new people into town.

Another key concern was how to protect the town from flooding since as one resident said it seems like flooding from storms is becoming a yearly occurrence.

The Plan of Conservation and Development Subcommittee is asking residents and business owners to fill out an online survey available at http://surveymonkey.com/s/StoningtonPOCDquestionaire. The survey includes opened ended and choice questions such as ranking issues that include the protection of historic sites, maintenance of local roads and promotion of new commercial development on their importance to the town. Hardcopies are available for pick up and drop off at the Planning and Zoning Office in Town Hall.

The 2014 Subcommittee is composed of Pawcatuck residents Bob Birmingham and John Prue, Stonington residents Wendy Bury, Jim Kelley, Bill Lyman, Alisa Morrison and Mystic residents Walter Grant, Sara Lathrop and Robert Mohr. Written comments, welcome at any time, may be sent to the 2014 POCD Subcommittee care of the Stonington Department of Planning, 152 Elm Street, Stonington, CT 06378.

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Harry White December 04, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Thanks Patch for quick highlights. To clarify my quote, “If open space, water quality and scenic views are desired ends, then public opinion will be our means. What type of open space will best nurture public opinion- manicured playing fields and golf courses, tracts of inaccessible land or centrally located parks with trails, education and other uses to link people with nature?” -Harry White
janis albamonti December 04, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Look to the Velvet Mill. Give this place zoning to grow. It just has amazing potential and 175 thousand sq,ft.
Wendy Bury December 04, 2012 at 04:33 PM
While the Town POCD does include data from the Borough, as it is a separate and distinct political jurisdiction, "the recommendations....are not intended to apply to the Borough of Stonington, whose Planning and Zoning Commission regulates its land uses in accordance with its own regulations and Plan of Conservation and Development." The Borough POCD was just passed on Nov. 13th at the PZC meeting with nobody speaking for or against the plan (i.e. nobody showed up). Here is the link to the Borough's brand-new POCD, good for the next 10 years.
Law Office of Salvatore Ritacco, LLC January 09, 2013 at 02:55 PM
When is the next meeting?
Bree Shirvell January 09, 2013 at 03:11 PM
The date next public input meeting hasn't been determined yet, but once it is I'll post something on Patch. In the meantime if you haven't taken the questionnaire you should think about doing so: http://surveymonkey.com/s/StoningtonPOCDquestionaire.

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