Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Relocation to mean 'one-stop permitting'

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
April 3, 2006

VERNON - As officials prepare to begin the long awaited renovation to the third floor of Town Hall, several town departments are getting ready to move to new locations.

On Friday, Mayor Ellen L. Marmer said the Planning and Engineering departments would move to town-owned office space at 55 W. Main St., across the street from Town Hall.

And once those departments have vacated their current office spaces, the Department of Social Services will move back to Town Hall, Marmer said.

Marmer said the town has the money to complete the moves and would begin making plans to alter the town-owned building at 55 W. Main St. to ensure that it is compliant with federal handicapped accessibility regulations.

The space to be utilized by the Planning and Engineering departments now is being used as storage by the Board of Education, Marmer said.

Although she didn't have an exact cost or timetable for the improvements, Marmer said she would expect the planning and engineering offices to be in their new location by the end of the year.

The move would allow those two departments to be housed in the same building as the Building Department.

Before he retired last week, Town Planner Thomas J. Joyce Jr. said locating the three departments under the same roof would make it easier for residents and developers to go through the land-use application process.

Joyce described the new setup as "one-stop" permitting.

"We have situations where someone comes in saying they want a building permit and we send them to the Building Department and the Building Department says they need a wetlands permit and then they come back here to get a wetlands permit," Joyce said. "It's inconvenient to the public."

In addition to being more convenient to the public, Marmer said, the move would save the town money.

For over five years, the Social Services Department has been housed in temporary quarters on Franklin Park West, which the town has been renting.

The rental is about $8,800 per year, town Finance Director James M. Luddecke said.

Those rental costs would be eliminated once the department returned to Town Hall, Marmer said.

"I think this is something we should have considered doing a long time ago," Marmer said. "We're going to make this happen quickly."

A number of town offices were relocated or shuffled several years ago in anticipation of the planned renovation of Town Hall, which became stalled because of a lack of funding.

But on Friday the state Bond Commission voted to release $1.2 million in funding that had been approved by the General Assembly and Gov. M. Jodi Rell last year.

Those funds will go toward the renovation of Town Hall's now-vacant third floor.

Once that is complete, the town's administrative offices and Town Council chamber will be relocated to the third floor and officials will begin turning their attention to the remaining two floors of Town Hall.

©Journal Inquirer 2006