May 2 public hearing scheduled for PZC code changes

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

The Southington Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC) scheduled a public hearing on Tuesday, May 2 at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Center assembly room regarding zoning text amendments. The public is welcome to weigh in on proposed changes to the town’s rules about satellite dishes, kennels, and more as the town deals with changing technologies.

Many of the proposed changes are minor and just for clarification purposes, but legally, the PZC needs public input before taking action on any changes in the language. Officials said that they don’t expect any of the changes to be controversial.

Click here for the proposed changes: ZA_592_proposed_text

The biggest difference is a  proposed change to the the town’s satellite dish rules where officials are recommending removal of an entire section, 2-08, which consists of guidelines for large satellite dishes and antennas. The regulations currently address structures up to 12 feet in size that are located in backyards away from the street.

“That whole industry is obsolete,” said Robert Phillips, director of planning and community development. “That only had to do with dishes from the 1980s.”

With the growth of digital technology, the PZC is also recommending changes for the procedures for site plan reviews. The new changes will require supporting documentation and maps to be submitted in digital form.

“We want to encourage digital submissions,” Phillips said. The move should cut down on filing and printing costs with less of a burden to applicants.

The PZC will also hear any public feedback about proposed text changes that expand the town’s definition of “kennel.”

Phillips said that kennels are only allowed in business or industrial zones. The recommended language states that all pet spay and neuter clinics, dog grooming, therapy, and daycare business facilities with four or more dogs six months or older kept day or night are considered kennels.

This does not mean that a resident with four or more pets has to call their home a kennel.

While there are other minor definition and language amendments, the last major change is in the town’s special permit use and zone change procedures. Currently, the PZC is responsible for notifying surrounding property owners when changes are made, but they are proposing that the applicant assume that role.

“It doesn’t make sense to make the town liable,” said Phillips. He said that in other towns he’s worked in, the applicant mails letters to their neighbors, not the commission. “We can provide them with the list of names, but the commission shouldn’t be part of mailing them.”

In order to enforce this, applicants would have to show a certificate of mailing from the post office to prove that the notices were distributed.

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