Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Officials to hear comments on development zone rules

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
February 28, 2005

VERNON — The future of development in mixed-use development zones will be the topic of a special public workshop scheduled for Tuesday night.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will host the workshop, which is to begin at 7:30 in the Vernon Senior Center on Park Place.

During the workshop, townspeople can give their input on development regulations for three specific land parcels.

These parcels include the area south of Dart Hill Road, known as the Gerber Farm area; the area south of Vernon Center near exit 66 on Interstate 84; and the area south of Lafayette Square near Interstate 84 exit 67.

Members of the public and commission members also will have the chance to hear a presentation by Bruce Hoben, a principal with the planning consulting firm Planimetrics LLC of Avon, who has been retained by the PZC to draft amendments to the zoning regulations.

Hoben's presentation will touch on the objectives of land-use planning, the town's current zoning regulations, and alternative methods for regulating land use and development, officials said.

PZC Chairman Alan D. Humphries said Tuesday's workshop is an important starting point in the process of improving local development regulations.

"We've been looking forward to getting the process started for quite some time," Humphries said. "We hope a lot of townspeople will come and speak to this issue."

Humphries said Hoben is expected to preside over most of Tuesday's workshop and will look to spearhead public discussion on the issue.

Town Planner Thomas J. Joyce Jr. said the workshop would give the public the opportunity to talk about the types of development they would like to see on the three parcels.

"The question is, what is it you want there," Joyce said. "Once an application is coming in, the Planning and Zoning Commission is evaluating it in relation to the zoning regulations that currently exist."

Joyce said he expects Hoben to use public input from Tuesday's meeting to develop a series of recommendations that could be discussed during another workshop scheduled for March 22.

Hoben is performing the work on a fee schedule that is not to exceed $15,000, Joyce said.

Tuesday's scheduled workshop comes on the heels of the PZC's decision late last month to extend a six-month moratorium on development in planned mixed-use development zones.

The development freeze, which was originally set to expire this month, will now expire at the beginning of July.

The moratorium was intended to give officials a chance to correct flaws in development guidelines and develop a clear definition for the zone.

A controversial proposal to construct a 186,000-square-foot Wal-Mart near exit 67 off Interstate 84 prompted a local resident to request the freeze on development.