TOWN OF EAST WINDSOR
Planning & Zoning Commission
Special Meeting #1464
October 24, 2005
The meeting was called to order by Vice Chairman Ed Filipone at 6:45 p.m. at the Broad Brook Elementary School cafeteria, 14 Rye Street, Broad Brook, CT. (Chairman Gary Guiliano arrived a short while later)
ESTABLISHMENT OF QUORUM:
A quorum was established as four Regular Members (Filipone, Rodrigue, Saunders, and Guiliano) and three Alternates (Ouellette, Kehoe and Tyler) were present Regular Member Gowdy was absent. Also present were Laurie Whitten, Town Planner and Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics.
Mr. Filipone explained that there is currently a moratorium on some types of development in East Windsor. This is the first of several forums to get input as to what direction this Commission should take in the process of reviewing the regulations. He said they were here to respond to the town to adjust the regulations accordingly. Mr. Filipone introduced Glenn Chalder from Planimetrics who will be working with the Commission on the regulations review. He noted that Planimetrics worked with the Commission on the recent Plan of Conservation and Development.
Mr. Chalder explained that Planimetrics is a land use consulting firm. He distributed handouts to the Commission members entitled “Growth Management Issues and Strategies, Initial Scoping Discussion.” He said he has talked to Ms. Whitten about some of the issues in town overall and some of the rationale for the moratorium in terms of residential development. He said his goal tonight was to re-discuss the issues, find out how they are interconnected and prioritize them. Mr. Chalder noted that in the handout it stated: “Phase 1 – Identify / categorize current land use issues / reasons for the moratorium.” He said that’s the goal for this meeting. Phase 2 is going to be to identify strategies. He said that’s where his job is going to be to come
back to the Commission and state which issues need to be addressed, and then Phase 3 would be to implement solutions. Their goal is to do this before the moratorium runs out. Mr. Filipone asked if 9 months was a reasonable amount of time. Mr. Chalder felt that it should be. He explained that the adoption process will take at least 90 days to do. That means that they will have to get done is about 6 months, which puts them to about March or April of next year.
Mr. Chalder referred to the handout which outlines topics such as amount of growth, location of growth, rate of growth, type of growth and impact of growth. He felt that they should discuss these issues and determine which ones are the most significant issues to be addressed.
George Butenkoff, of 169 Wells Road, felt that the biggest impact is the developers and the money they are making off of the developments in town. He said they have to evaluate each development on how they affect the infrastructure of the town, such as schools, the fire department, police department. He suggested getting money from the developers and putting it
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into a fund to purchase additional space. He said this has been done in quite a few states. He suggested taking the impact of development over a 10-year period. Mr. Chalder said there are states that allow communities to establish impact fees but Connecticut is not one of those. He said we certainly need to be cognizant of the impacts of development but if the goal is to get impact fees, that is not something that they can do in 9 months.
Scott Riach, of 32 Windsorville Road, was concerned about traffic. He said there is a lot of traffic on Windsorville and there are no sidewalks and no lights. Mr. Filipone said that the Commission has in most cases waived the requirement for sidewalks in subdivisions. He said it is an attempt to maintain the rural atmosphere of the town and not make it urbanized. He said they might want sidewalks in areas where the streets were directly connected to centers of town.
Rand Stanley, of 87 Rye Street, felt that sidewalks lend a certain degree of neutrality to a neighborhood, a place where neighbors can meet, as well as being a safe place for children to walk rather than in the street.
Robert Lyke, of 80 Rye Street, felt that open space should be addressed. He said he would also like to see some interaction with other boards and commissions so that we have the right proportion of economic development to residential development.
Mr. Stanley felt they should address affordable housing. He said this would be a good opportunity to strike a balance in the community. Mr. Saunders pointed out that affordable housing is a region-wide problem. He felt it wasn’t as much a zoning issue as it was a matter of cost of materials and labor. Ms. Whitten suggested that zoning could be changed to allow for smaller lot development. Mr. Chalder said there is a way to adopt a regulation to cap the total number of units that can be built in town and on a parcel. There is also a way to adopt a regulation that says every development has an obligation to make some provision for affordable housing. He said the statutes allow for a provision of a fee in-lieu-of affordable housing. That also creates a dilemma such
as the loss of open space and an increase in the need of schools. He said they need to recognize that all of these things are interconnected.
Mr. Lyke brought up the issue of farmland preservation and preserving the rural character of the community. Mr. Tyler said they need to learn how to preserve the farmer and not the farmland; it is the farmer that maintains the farmland. Mr. Lyke questioned how do you do that with zoning regulations. Mr. Chalder said if you adopt a density regulation which places a cap on the total number of housing units you can place on a parcel, and require that everyone make some provision for affordable housing, and have a minimum open space percentage some of which is going to be farmland. They need to determine through the regulations to make sure they are not inhibiting or prohibiting farming activities. Mr. Guiliano noted that in the Plan of Development, Section 3, there is a lot of useful information
regarding density standards and the percentage of open space to be set aside.
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Mr. Stanley suggested simplifying the regulations to have just residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial zones rather than R-1, R-2, etc. Mr. Guiliano pointed out that Section 3 of the Plan of Development talks about condensing the zones.
Mr. Butenkoff asked about fees in-lieu-of open space. He felt that land now is going for more than what our regulations provide for. Mr. Chalder noted that the statutes limit it to 10% of predevelopment value of the land. He said some communities provide that the local assessor will set the value and if the developer disputes that, they can get an appraiser.
Carol Madore, Town Assessor, pointed out that the town is currently about 35% commercial and 65% residential.
Mr. Lyke brought up the issues of the sewer service area, sewer avoidance area and aquifer protection area. Mr. Filipone said those areas are all established. Ms. Whitten suggested that they might want to re-look at the sewer service area in terms of whether it is realistic. Jose Giner, former East Windsor Town Planner, noted that when the sewer service area was established, they were in the process of expanding the sewer plant. At that time they had no sewer capacity for economic growth. Ms. Whitten said the WPCA feels that they now have a greater capacity than what they had originally anticipated. Mr. Giner said we need to find out how much capacity for economic growth do we have built in and make sure that we don’t find ourselves 10 or 20 years down the road having to
spend a lot of money on a new sewer plant. Ms. Whitten said we need to figure out what the capacity is, where it needs to be sent, how it’s going to mold development, and whether it needs to be changed. Mr. Giner said the sewer avoidance area is already a built-in tool for increasing densities in certain areas. Ms. Whitten said it’s also in an area where it’s over the aquifer protection area. She also explained that it was her understanding from the DEP and OPM that when you create a sewer service area, and are getting funding from the DEP you have to show an area where you will have capacity and just by default you end up with a sewer avoidance area. She said the WPCA at this point had set a policy that if the capacity is available and it is technologically feasible, they’ll grant a tentative permit. Mr. Giner said that the sewer service area was established through the permitting process by the WPCA with the DEP.
It was the WPCA’s map. He noted that the map was included in the Plan of Development update at that time. Ms. Whitten said one of the issues is that it was not inserted into the current Plan of Development. Mr. Chalder felt that the map should be included in the Plan of Conservation and Development, and as part of this work they will have some modifications to the Plan. They should make sure the map is current so it becomes the factual basis for future land use decisions. Ms. Whitten said that map is supposed to reflect the OPM map for the town and the OPM map growth area boundaries and the town’s sewer service area do not mesh. She went on to say that they are in the process of working with the WPCA to try to figure out the methodology behind this and working with the Planning and Zoning Commission to determine whether they want to change the map and if so then they will propose to do so and work with DEP and OPM. Mr.
Chalder said he will do some research in terms of the DEP rules and procedures for extensions outside of sewer avoidance areas.
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Mr. Chalder said that a lot of the issues they touched upon are on the handout list. He asked if anything else needed to be added. Mr. Guiliano referred to the back page which lists “Other Issues: Address areas of conflict between Zoning and Subdivision Regulations; Clarifying potentially ambiguous regulations; Aligning the Zoning and Subdivision Regulations with the POCD; and Streamlining the land use approval process”. He felt that these are important issues to be looked at.
Betsy Burns, Human Services Director, asked about historic preservation. Mr. Chalder said it is difficult to deal with historic preservation through the zoning regulations. He said the best tools for that are either through local historic districts or other means like that.
Mr. Lyke brought up the issue of scenic roads. It was noted that this should be handled through an ordinance which is already in the works. Mr. Chalder questioned how do we insure that our road standards that we have today are appropriate road standards. He said one thing we want to do is build the scenic roads of the future.
Mr. Chalder noted that there were about 20 items listed on the handout. He asked everyone to pick the top 6 items. Mr. Guiliano felt that the first 3 items on the back page were the most important. Mr. Stanley agreed that those were the most important. Mr. Chalder said they do need to address the sewer avoidance issue. Ms. Whitten said we have a lot of different types of multi-family and single-family residential development. She said she wasn’t sure that we’re getting the product that we want as far as density, open space, the layouts and the roads. This all ties into it. She said we need to define what we want as open space. Ms. Madore said she would caution everyone to think about the way that we assign the open space because we open ourselves up to the
potential of non-taxable property, such as when the property is in a land trust.
Mr. Chalder said he will put together an action plan or program and bring it back to discuss at a future meeting. It was agreed that Mr. Chalder and Ms. Whitten will get together and decide when the next meeting will be, possibly the end of November.
MOTION: To adjourn this meeting. Saunders / Filipone / Unanimous
The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m.