Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Vernon PZC approves Plan of Conservation and Development

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Saturday, November 19, 2011 1:10 AM EST

VERNON — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the 10-year Plan of Conservation and Development Thursday after months of review and input from residents, business owners, and land-use specialists.

Commission Chairman Chester Morgan thanked consultant Heidi Samokar of Avon-based Planimetrics and others for their help in crafting the revised document, which helps to guide future economic development and preservation of natural resources.

“An awful lot of work went in with present and past members of this commission,” Morgan said. “I think an outstanding job was done.”

Before approving the plan, commission members voted to approve several changes based on comments received at a public hearing on Oct. 13. These included removal of a section stating the plan’s advisory nature, addition of graphical information about the location of vernal pools, and, language explaining that individual buildings located within historic districts — such as the Hockanum Mill — are not necessarily included on the plan’s list of historic buildings.

Several comments by Sherryl McMullen, a former member of the Conservation Commission, were taken into account by the commission in its deliberations, including her concern for vernal pools, a type of temporary wetland that is crucial to the lifecycles of amphibians and invertebrate organisms such as fairy shrimp.

Samokar said the town already had the information available, so she saw no reason not to include it in the plan’s maps.

McMullen had also said that the TicketNetwork Forest application for an outdoor concert venue near exit 66 showed the town must be conscious of compatibility between neighboring uses, especially between commercial and residential areas, and the commission voted to add language reinforcing that sentiment.

At the hearing, lawyer Joseph P. Capossela, whose firm represented TicketNetwork in that concert venue application, had said that he felt the plan did not include enough emphasis on development of new structures, such as luxury apartment housing.

But Samokar said she felt the plan’s statements on the importance of business in the sections on exits 66 and 67 were already sufficient.

Commission members will meet annually to discuss implementation, and will convene every three years to assess the status of the plan as a whole.

The Plan of Conservation and Development will become effective on Jan. 30, and the commission will meet again in a month to approve the implementation element, which accompanies the plan and provides more specific instruction for its use in policy and decision making.

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