I am writing on behalf of the Town’s Economic & Community Development Commission (ECDC) regarding the efforts of the Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) to review and update the Town’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). The ECDC has had an opportunity to review and discuss the most recent draft and appreciates the opportunity to provide further input.
It is clear to us that the draft plan has improved significantly since the March 26, 2013 Feedback Summit. During our review of the current draft, we appreciated that many of the ECDC’s recommendations were incorporated. Further, the level of detail has increased substantially. Details are necessary, in our opinion, in order to make the POCD meaningful. We believe the attention to same in the current draft is an important step forward.
The ECDC has the following additional recommendations concerning the current draft of the
1. The POCD Should Be More Than Is Merely Required
Our understanding of the POCD is that it is a plan for the Town’s future. While a plan requires goals and policies, it also needs specific actions and deadlines that P&Z will take to implement the plan. Without such terms, a plan has no measure of accountability. Many of the ECDC Commissioners have repeatedly expressed concern that the POCD, once approved, will “sit on a shelf.” Without detailed action plans, we believe the POCD will fall short of its potential for the Town.
the current POCD insufficiently sets forth plans of action. For
example, the POCD states that P&Z “may want to consider” a
Neighborhood Commercial Floating Zone (p. 54) or updating its
regulations on the Professional Office Overlay Zone (p. 56). It further
provides the Town “might undertake a comprehensive exploration of
opportunities to expand economic
development…” (p. 57). Such recommendations are simply that –
suggestions of what might be.
Such suggestions are an important step in establishing a vision. However, the POCD should also be action-‐oriented – statements of what will be.
To that end, we make the following recommendations to the current POCD draft:
· Defined, measurable tasks to implement the recommendations in the POCD;
· Division of tasks between those ready to be implemented and those which need more work to be fully developed;
· Assignment of tasks within P&Z and/or proposals to recruit the assistance of other boards, commissions, community groups or other individuals concerning those tasks;
· Next steps to be taken in the advancement of goals set forth in the POCD, including deadlines for same;
· A process to review the progress towards stated goals and to adjust strategies as appropriate, based on unforeseen difficulties or opportunities; and
· Purposeful, meaningful goals and tasks. Each provision (goals, tasks, etc.) should have a considered, articulable reason for being included in the POCD. Provisions that are too general or lack a supportable basis should be omitted.
Page 2 of the draft POCD cites C.G.S. s. 8-‐23 which, in turn, defines the terms that shall be included in a plan of conservation and development. Plainly, those requirements must be met by the POCD. However, in drafting the POCD, P&Z should not limit itself to merely meeting legal requirements. It should meet those requirements and go beyond in order to create not merely a plan, but a plan of action to guide the Town in the months and years ahead.
2. Business Development Bordering Residential Areas
In a town as developed as Trumbull, proposals for the new development of commercially-‐ oriented properties will likely have an ongoing impact on neighboring residences. The issues currently being raised by homeowners around South Main Street are likely to repeat themselves as future projects which border residential communities are proposed. The current paradigm, whereby homeowners oftentimes must react to developers that have already invested resources in their plans, can lead to confusion, misinformation, delays and avoidable expenses for both Town residents and those interested in doing business in Trumbull. The POCD is an opportunity to proactively address some of those issues.
On page 24, the draft POCD generally comments on the establishment of a Design Review Process as an advisory mechanism for P&Z. We encourage P&Z to provide greater detail in the POCD as to the structure of a design review process in Trumbull. Among other things, a Design Review Process should make provisions for the involvement of neighborhood group members who may be impacted by a proposed development. By including homeowners earlier in the process and on a more formal basis, there is a greater opportunity for community input which will benefit both the homeowners as well as developers seeking to initiate projects within the Town.
3. The Opening And Closing Sections
Both the opening and closing sections are an opportunity to generate excitement about the POCD and the Town’s vision. We believe there is room for improvement in both sections.
Substantively, the sections appear to us as somewhat boilerplate. Further, in the Introduction on Page 1, certain items of interest (i.e., the Pequonnock River Trail, office parks, Trumbull Center, etc.) can be better highlighted through the use of formatting tools such as bullet points. Likewise, the Conclusion on Page 111 could be better drafted to generate community energy in support of the Plan.Respectfully submitted,
Scott M. Wich Chairman
Economic & Community Development Commission