Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon PZC likely to reject commercial zone application

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
August 28, 2006

VERNON - The Planning and Zoning Commission has said that it is not inclined to grant the owners of 36 acres on Talcottville Road a commercial zone designation.

Last week, commission members said they believed the current Planned Development Zone status for the property was adequate and asked the planning staff to draft a resolution formally rejecting a request to change the property's zoning status.

That resolution will likely be voted on at the PZC's Sept. 7 meeting.

Faith R. Lyman, who owns most of the property at 243 and 253 Talcottville Road, is asking the commission to change the parcel's zoning.

A smaller parcel, owned by Robert and Carol Bardin, also is included in the 36 acres under consideration for zone change.

Lyman's property is one of the last remaining undeveloped parcels in the 275-acre Gerber Farms area and most of the surrounding parcels have been developed to include multi-family housing, including the Quail Hollow age-restricted housing developments on Dart Hill Road, and some industrial development.

In arguing for the zone change on behalf of Lyman, 93, local lawyer Joseph P. Capossela said the town has always intended that commercial development be allowed along the parts of the property fronting Talcottville Road.

But while the town's intentions might have been to allow commercial uses on that property, PZC members said they did not want to give up the density controls granted to the town through the Planned Development Zone.

Commercial development is allowed in the Planned Development Zone, but with lower densities.

The PZC must also grant a special use permit for any commercial operations in the zone.

PZC member Mary Kelly said she felt the public was better served by the tougher environmental controls in the Planned Development Zone.

"I would feel better if commercial weren't allowed at all," Kelly said. "But the public's interest is better served by having this oversight and control."

PZC Chairman Gregory LaChance said the commission specifically included this parcel when it created the Planned Development Zone last year in response to several proposals for "big box" retail stores in the northeast section of town.

For that reason, LaChance said he is inclined to reject the zone change.

Two commission members, Watson C. Bellows and Ralph E. Zahner, said they might be inclined to change the parcel's zone designation if there was a specific project proposed for the site.

But Town Planner Neil S. Pade said that would be impratical because a zone change cannot be tied to any specific project.

"The land can still be developed commercially, though it's a little restricted in the current planned development zone," Bellows said.

This month, the PZC heard from a number of residents who expressed concern about large-scale developments on the site.

Among those speaking against the zone change were representatives of the Friends of the Hockanum River Linear Park, who urged the commission to consider the stream, which flows across the property, located on the west side of Talcottville Road, across from Allan Drive.

©Journal Inquirer 2006