Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Most Vernon residents say they would pay more to preserve open space

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Thursday, December 30, 2010 12:41 PM EST

VERNON — The results of a recent survey on planning and development indicate that residents are satisfied with the area’s shopping and recreation, but many would like to see more traffic controls on Route 83 and increased emphasis on preserving open space, even if it means paying more in property taxes.

The Bloomfield-based research and consulting firm, the Pert Group, conducted the 40-question telephone survey of 400 residents from Nov. 8-17 for the 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development, which is being revised by a subcommittee of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The results were weighted to make appropriate projections from the survey population based on demographics as reported by the census, and their statistical accuracy is plus or minus 4.86 percent at 95 percent confidence, according to the Pert Group.

A summary report of the survey results showed that most residents support potential development projects, but only 49 percent said they would support building large retail businesses, known colloquially as “big-box” stores.

More than 70 percent of respondents said they favor redevelopment of historical buildings in the Rockville section of Vernon for residential or office use, building sidewalks in areas such as Route 30, Route 83, or the Vernon Circle, and development of additional light industry.

Some 80 percent of those surveyed said they favored preserving additional undeveloped land as open space, and 62 percent said they would support a property tax increase for that endeavor.

In general, “residents are less likely to support initiatives if it will increase property taxes,” and “renters are more likely than owners to favor property tax increases for initiatives,” the report stated.

The survey questioned residents’ feelings about development around Interstate 84 highway exits 66 and 67, and found that “small retail shops” and single-family homes were the most desirable uses for those areas.

Most respondents said they don’t want big-box development at exit 66, while residents were split over their support for big-box and multifamily homes at the exit 67 area.

“‘Large retail shops’ is met with the most consistent opposition, with 43 percent of residents opposing such shops at both exits,” the report stated, adding that “multifamily residential” was also “one of the least supported development concepts at these exits.”

When asked to prioritize issues regarding the Route 83 commercial areas, 30 percent of residents said they want more traffic controls, 19 percent called for better coordination of business driveways, 13 percent wanted clearer traffic signals, and 11 percent said they want better landscaping along the road.

In regard to the downtown Rockville section of Vernon, two-thirds of respondents said that when they visit the area’s hospital, churches, or government buildings, they rarely or never stop at a retail establishment.

That finding is consistent with other responses that showed residents feel there are few shopping options in the Rockville area, but those who identified themselves as residents of Rockville were more likely to shop there. Those individuals also expressed more support for sidewalks and multifamily homes, the report showed.

In response to the idea to build a community center, there was no consensus among residents about where such a building should be located, and few said they would support it if the project meant an increase in property taxes.

Local commuter buses were also met with a lukewarm response from residents, two-thirds of who said that they would “never” use a bus service.

The survey also included one open-ended question that asked residents, “What is the best thing about the town of Vernon?”

In their answers, 16.2 percent mentioned “location,” while 15.6 specified that it was the accessibility and proximity to shopping that they loved about the town.

Some 9.5 percent said it was town services, 7.7 mentioned schools, 7.3 cited community, 6.9 said parks, 5.7 said access to the highway, and 4.6 percent said the best thing about Vernon is that it’s quiet.

For the full results of the survey, go to

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