Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Develop with environment in mind, residents say

By Max Bakke
Journal Inquirer
Published: Friday, November 13, 2009 12:08 PM EST

VERNON — Residents who attended a workshop Thursday on the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development say they want the document to focus on protecting natural resources and fostering environmentally-sensitive development.

The meeting, run by Planimetrics, the Avon-based consulting firm that’s charged with writing the plan, was the first opportunity for residents to offer their suggestions for the town’s appearance.

“I think we have to be careful about development where we have natural resources, so we can protect what’s there,” Bolton Lakes area resident Edie Chernack said.

The firm provided residents with three maps and asked them to place stickers where they live, where things are that they’re proud of, and where things are that they dislike. Many residents said they were fond of local parks and the town’s popular trail system.

Downtown Rockville was both point of pride for some residents and a problem for others who said they feel unsafe there.

Development plans are mandated by state statute and must be updated every 10 years. They contain the town’s long-range goals for development during the next decade.

The town last adopted a development plan in 2001 and added a supplemental guideline for development in downtown Rockville in 2003.

Resident Karl Prewo said it’s possible for the town to balance both responsible development and protect local open space — two priorities that some residents said they felt were at odds with one another.

“Business development is part of our quality of life, as is open space,” he said.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Lester Finkle said he was thrilled that the crowd of 50 or so residents was taking an active role in the planning process.

“People are willing to voice their thoughts about Vernon,” he said. “This was a very important step to get the process going.”

Heidi Samokar, who represented Planimetrics, said the company would consolidate Thursday’s findings and report to the commission next month. A random phone survey of residents is scheduled for early next year, she said.

Officials expect to adopt a final plan in the spring of 2011.

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