Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
Proposed changes to Vernon zoning regs headed to subcommittee for review

By Suzanne Carlson
Journal Inquirer
Published: Friday, February 3, 2012 12:04 PM EST

VERNON — A subcommittee will scrutinize former Republican Mayor Jason L. McCoy’s proposal to eliminate most special permits and public hearings from the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval process before members decide whether to accept the regulation changes.

Commission member Charles Bardes said Thursday the subcommittee’s first meeting is scheduled for Monday, after which the group will make a progress report during the PZC meeting on Feb. 16.

If approved, the regulation changes would move a variety of uses that require special permits into uses “of right,” eliminating mandatory public hearings and removing requirements that projects be compatible with neighboring uses, not affect future sound development, and not create a nuisance or hazard to public health or safety.

Approximately 40 people attended a nearly three-hour meeting devoted solely to McCoy’s proposal on Jan. 19, but the only people who spoke in favor of the changes were those who represent the application, which McCoy presented to the commission just before leaving office.

The Vernon Citizens for Responsible Development called on Republican Mayor George F. Apel to withdraw the application but he has declined to take responsibility for it, even though McCoy submitted it in his capacity as mayor.

Therefore, Town Administrator John D. Ward has represented the application, along with lawyer Justin Clark of the Manchester firm Blackwell, Davis, and Spadaccini.

Ward and Clark said the changes would streamline zoning regulations and reduce the burden of the application process for developers, making the town more business-friendly.

McCoy hired Clark to draft the changes for $6,060, which was taken from the Planning Department’s budget, and Town Planner Leonard K. Tundermann detailed numerous inconsistencies and regulatory conflicts created by the changes in a five-page memorandum to the PZC.

Bardes said the subcommittee would review the application’s transfer of numerous special permit uses into permitted use, as well as sections of the application that reference other zones, which he said may be “problematic” and unclear.

The Conservation Commission has submitted a letter to the PZC asking for the proposal to be rejected.

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