By TAYLOR HARTZ
A public meeting was held on Nov. 19 to discuss a draft Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) meant to guide the town over the next 20-years.
The POCD Draft Plan is an “advisory” document used by the town to strategize and prioritize conservation and development efforts. The public hearing was held to gather insight from residents.
“Our goal tonight is to get your thoughts, questions, and feedback,” said Glen Chandler of the American Institute of Certified Planners, who led the discussion.
The committee has been revising the 2006 plan for over a year and has compared their draft to state and regional plans.
The POCD committee said their mantra is essentially to “stay the course,” with the town’s previous plan.
“It doesn’t dictate exactly what’s going to happen or unfold,” said Chandler of the presented draft, “but it really gives us an opportunity to plan for the future.”
The draft, spanning more than 100 pages, is a 16-part plan.
Beginning with an introduction to the history of the town, the committee shared charts showing conditions, trends, and planning issues.
A chart of population growth sparked discussion about the dynamics of population change and age projection.
“Southington could start to anticipate the fact that things will change,” said Chandler of the likelihood of an older generation becoming the most dominant in Southington.
Chandler noted that by tracking this change, the town will be in line to “enhance our quality of life”, for a more senior community.
Residents agreed they were glad to hear of plans for an aging population, including a focus on transportation.
Next the plan discussed protection of natural resources, preservation of open space, and preservation of community assets including farming and sce nic and historic attributes.
They discussed ideas to promote sustainability and resiliency, including energy reduction, water conservation, waste reduction, and practices for green energy.
Moving toward the development side of the plan, Chandler discussed the committee’s ideas for enhancing the downtown and other areas.
The report describes ideas for a “village district” downtown, and a “central area” in Plantsville.
Residents agreed that it was important to discuss public transportation needs, along with ideas for extended trails, more walkability in Plantsville, and revisiting ratios and regulations for more efficient parking.
Plans were also discussed for guiding business and residential development throughout town.
Chandler shared plans for guiding development of more businesses, redeveloping underused business sites, protecting existing neighborhoods, and developing multi-family residences.
In addition to plans for development, the hearing covered plans for future land use, utility infrastructure, and community facility needs including municipal centers, public safety, and education.
Chandler wrote questions, concerns, and suggestions from residents on a board at the front of the room, and said the POCD Update Committee will review the Draft Plan following the hearing.
“This is a road map,” said Michael DelSanto, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC), “this isn’t the end of the road.”
After public concerns are reviewed, the plan will then be forwarded to the PZC for review and possible adoption.
A recent change to Connecticut state law says that a town cannot have a POCD that is more than 10-years old, giving Southington a deadline of Aug. 16, 2016.