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Trumbull Residents Want to Be Heard on Main Street Development

By John Pappas, et. al.

[Editor's Note: More signatures are contained in the attached PDF copy of the letter.]

Dear Trumbull Planning and Zoning Commission: 

We are writing this letter concerning Trumbull’s Draft Plan of Conservation and Development; specifically how the plan addresses the eastern Main Street corridor south of the Merritt Parkway. We formally request that this letter be read at the March 26, 2013 meeting. 

Some of us are third generation Trumbull home owners. Over these past few years, we have witnessed the following ad-hoc zoning changes to the very short section of Eastern Main Street South of the Merritt Parkway that have caused concern to the communities adjacent to that strip:

  • Change from residential use to residential or owner-occupied professional use
  • Change from residential or  owner-occupied professional use, to residential or professional use
  • Changes in the zoning regulations (2.1.3 of Section 2: Special Residential Zones—Professional Office Overlay Zone) to allow for the razing of existing residential homes, to be re-created as professional offices with size limitations.

Within Trumbull’s 2006 Plan of Conservation and Development, as well as within the current documents regarding the revised Plan of Conservation and Development, there are many references from residents, town leaders and the Planning and Zoning Commission (Commission) to maintain and preserve the character of existing residential neighborhoods (especially main streets), while being aware/concerned of piecemeal zoning changes and commercial development/impact occurring in residential neighborhoods (see accompanying Appendix). 

Yet despite the many references reinforcing the town’s residential character on main roads, the current Plan (Updated Draft Goals and Strategies document, page 8, Business Development) contradicts itself and mentions that the lower Main Street south of the Merritt Parkway may “transition” from residential to businesses:

“These are residential areas today. Should these areas become less viable for residential uses and the property-owners express interest in other options in the future, the Plan can recommend that the Town remain open to a new zoning approach in these areas.”

What this statement (accompanied by the zoning changes mentioned above) means to us is that a few property owners/developers, not the Commission or the hundreds of neighboring residents, will primarily drive and dictate the uses of Main Street south of the Merritt Parkway.

And unfortunately, given that these few property owners have been (successfully) lobbying for the zoning changes to suit their desires to sell their properties for significant financial gain, it seems that this has already been occurring and that commercialization of eastern Main Street south of the Merritt Parkway could be inevitable. Is commercialization the intention?

For example, the two owners of the connected 4950 and 5010 Main Street lots (which were previously habitable, then self-inflicted dilapidated, then razed) have publicly stated that Main Street South of the Merritt Parkway should become an upscale commercial district. This statement is incredibly self-serving—as those same developers pushed for many zoning changes (which have already been granted).

We are concerned that additional requests to the Commission to make even more changes to the zoning regulations to allow for commercial use, or to join the two properties together to create one large parcel (which could possibly lead to a professional or commercial building in excess of 2500sf) could be made. Already, irreplaceable century-old trees have been removed from these particular parcels that lined Main Street (which both the 2006 and draft plan sought to preserve “tree-lined main streets”).

If this total disregard of the existing 2006 plan and the new zoning and development commission studies are ignored, this type of home and property neglect could very well set a precedent for future property owners—not only along the East side of Main Street South of the Merritt Parkway, but for similar areas within Trumbull.

Understandably, the Commission is looking for ways to remediate the older houses on this strip, add to the town’s tax base, and solve the strip’s disrepair issues. As Trumbull property owners, we are also concerned with these issues—but they must be balanced with keeping Trumbull a community who values its way of life while still protecting it neighborhoods.

However, the past and current piecemeal “transition” already has and could permanently  negatively impact the surrounding residential communities (27+ houses on Bonnie View Drive, 28+ houses on Ochsner Place, 12 houses on Botsford Place, 4 houses on West Main Street, 22 houses on Gorham Place and other homes throughout Trumbull near similar current zoning uses). A change to commercial use zoning unfairly alters an existing neighborhood, incurs lower property values, and significantly lowers the residential character that as Trumbull residents we have come to enjoy.

If a real and reasonable transition is to take place, it should be strategically laid out, planned, communicated and adhered to; in lieu of being performed on an ad-hoc basis that only listens and bows to the selfish demands of a developer and owner of a (self-inflicted) dilapidated property looking to “cash out.”

Therefore, we as residents of Trumbull formally request that when considering the Main Street south of the Merritt Parkway area for future development (either within the draft Plan, or in enforcing or revising zoning regulations), that the Commission continues to heed the advice of the many people who provided their valuable input in the beginning stages of this plan’s development (See accompanying Appendix):

  • 12 Department Heads
  • 36 Board And Commission members representing 15 boards/commissions, including the Town Council
  • All the residents who voiced their opinions during the public session

We also request that the voices of the Trumbull residents on these neighboring residential areas are heard, understood, represented and prioritized by the Commission when developing the Plan in order to maintain the natural residential neighborhood character that residents, town leaders, and the Commission have already publicly supported throughout the years.

Lastly, we request that the Commission carefully considers the impact of future development/zoning changes regarding Main Street south of the Merritt Parkway on the Town and the communities most affected by it.

We thank you for your time and we trust we can count on your consideration and support.

Sincerely,

John Pappas and other Trumbull Residents

Tom Pieragostini April 06, 2013 at 11:16 AM
I'm ashamed that in the recent past, Trumbull town planners have chosen to use the beautiful historic Merritt Parkway as some sort of cheap zoning boundary that, depending on which side you live on, determines if your neighborhood will remain residential or become commercial. It was even suggested in the foreword of a book about the history of Trumbull, that the Merritt Parkway somehow "bisected" the town and the founders were wise to locate all new commercial development south of it. It doesn't bisect the town. We all have to live with the bad decisions other people make, but nothing did more to devastate our town "center" than to locate new development on our southern border. Now we're left with a confusing gateway from Bridgeport into Trumbull along Main Street. When people ask now - are we in Trumbull yet? The answer is - yes, we have been for the last half mile...
JonIrenicus April 13, 2013 at 02:28 PM
It would be nice if crossing the Bridgeport into Trumbull border was noticeable- a sudden shift from fast food and dilapidated buildings to greenery and well maintained buildings. Unfortunately that strip of Main St has had its character erode as commercial zoning inched north. The imposing structures of the mall and Merritt make it very difficult to see this no man's land as remaining residential for much longer.

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