As one of the two democratic planning and zoning commissioners, I believe both congratulations and a correction for regulatory violations are in order for Monday evening’s town wide meeting that was identified as a workshop for Trumbull’s future Plan of Conservation and Development. Firstly, the input from the citizens of Trumbull who showed up was invaluable. They all expressed their honest concerns, some were similar in wanting to preserve the character of Trumbull; and some were completely divergent in asking for more development in dining and nightlife, with still others wanting to attract more industrial work. There were those who wished to extol the advantages of the Rails to Trails and the great biking available; diversely, there were those who wanted to preserve more of the wildlife within those same wooded trails.
Having served over the last decade on Trumbull Zoning Board of Appeals, as the Chairman of The Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, and now as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner, I am very aware that understanding the desires of our residents is paramount to the success of Trumbull’s future.
Sadly, in the current administration’s zealousness to involve the public in an open process, the Town has violated the state regulations governing Planning and Zoning meetings. Surprisingly, the format was a slight to the Commissioners who were requested to be present, and subsequently left out of the exchange.
Four Commissioners were present, including the vice-chair, where no meeting was opened or closed, and Commissioners were not asked at any point to join the exchange. This was a sanctioned noticed municipal meeting on Trumbull school property. A quorum of Commissioners was in attendance as requested, but the consultants were allowed to open the meeting, control the discussion, and close the meeting with no recognition or input from the Commissioners or any Town official.
There was great discussion between Commissioners during and afterward that was not made public, or minutes taken to be able to lawfully share with the public.
Trumbull certainly needs to redo our Plan of Conservation and Development, incorporating what our citizens feel will provide a solid future for Trumbull by both preserving its character and enhancing its strengths. The Planning and Zoning Commission needs to modify or create new regulations that will allow and entice developers to invest in those visions in the next decade.
We all need to support this process, Commissioners, Town staff, and especially the public, but we cannot allow the governing state regulations, and the sate FOI rules to be violated in the process.
It seems that we need to better understand that the Planning and Zoning Commission has statutory oversight for the Plan of Conservation and Development and the process for its updating, not the hired consultants or Town staff. I believe future violations of State regulations can be avoided simply by having all Planning and Zoning Commission meetings controlled and scheduled by the Chairman of the Commission.
Fred Garrity Jr
Planning and Zoning Commissioner