Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Options already studied

Journal Inquirer
March 29, 2006

Regarding the March 16 editorial "Big box or little, keep options open": The fact is that it makes a huge difference to Stafford which businesses come to town.

There is only a small amount of land available for business development, as was shown by the results of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center study commissioned by the Board of Selectmen last summer and delivered to the town in January.

The study made it clear that the least-desirable use for Stafford's available land would be large-scale retail, but did recommend that the town should consider a business park on the location where the proposed Wal-Mart was to be built.

Proposed zoning regulations limiting retail development to stores of 40,000-square feet are quite in line with the size of the population. Stafford's population is a little over 12,000 people, so why does it need a store larger than that?

The regulations would not limit the size of other types of commercial, industrial, or high-tech business, allowing those businesses to come to town and flourish. These regulations have been approved by Capitol Region Council of Governments.

Those who favor these new zoning regulations understand the need for the town to balance its tax base. We also understand, through exhaustive study, that big-box development does not contribute to a town's net income.

In fact, those developments usually cost the taxpayers money, resulting in increased tax rates — a fact obviously lost to Vernon and Manchester. And we haven't even talked about the crime, pollution, and traffic.

The process in Stafford has been debated in depth for more than a year. For an editor to tell us we need to slow down only shows that the editor who wrote that editorial is somewhat uninformed about the matter and the extensive studies that have been done. The next time you write such an editorial you should be sure to have all the facts.

Leonard Clark and Gary Fisher
Stafford Springs