Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Mayor’s zoning move troubling

Letters to the Editor
Journal Inquirer
September 12, 2011

Mayor Jason McCoy is intent on leaving his mark on Vernon before he leaves office.

His latest maneuver of handing over Vernon’s zoning regulations to a Manchester law firm for revision is troubling.

Vernon is in the final phases of updating its plan of conservation and development — at no small cost to taxpayers. The POCD provides a vision and guidelines for Vernon’s future as it relates to zoning, development, and infrastructure. Public presentation of the new POCD took place in June. If the mayor has his way, however, the revised zoning regulations will take precedence over the POCD when they are presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval in October, leaving the POCD up in the air after months of work.

It seems not all zoning will be revised by the Manchester firm; it isn’t hard to surmise which areas in Vernon will be under scrutiny, though: exits 66, 67 off Interstate 84, and Rockville.

Few would deny the importance of getting appropriate development at these locations in Vernon. But the mayor’s ploy is suspect because it precludes meaningful input from Vernon’s land-use commissions.

Of related interest is the recent behind-the-scene’s meeting reported by the Journal Inquirer: a meeting staged by Donald Vaccaro of TicketNetwork to discuss zoning and development with mayoral candidates, the town planner and economic development adviser, and Kahan, Kerensky, which represented Vaccaro in his exit 66 concert venue application last year. The fat lady evidently has not yet sung in that opera.

The implications of all of the above are profound with regard to the autonomy and functioning of Vernon’s land-use commissions.

A few years ago, the PZC considered revising some of the zoning regulations using an outside planning consultant. That work did not occur due to lack of funds. It is odd, isn’t it, that in today’s economic climate the town has come up with $20,000 to revise zoning regs.

One hopes Vernon’s Town Council and land-use commissions take up this matter with the mayor while there is still time. Until then, Vernon continues to be at the mercy of the lawyers and the special interests they serve.

Sarah Iacobello

The writer served on Vernon’s PZC from 2008 to 2010.