We asked Southington Planning and Zoning Commission candidates the following question:
Q) What do you see as the most important issue for the PZC over the next term? How do you plan to handle it if you are elected?
Here are their answers (Candidates are grouped in the order they will appear on the ballot):
MEET THE DEMOCRATS
A) Development. The continued development of West Street and the issues raised in that regard will undoubtedly come before the Planning and Zoning Commission over the next term. Fortunately there is a development plan for this area which broadly describes the type of development desired in the different zones created.
I am a passionate environmentalist. My hobbies and interests all involve nature and the outdoors. I am encouraged that the plan makes provisions to blend development with the environment and leave some areas in a natural state.
As a member of the PZC I would be a strong advocate for maintaining the spirit and intent of this plan and would resist any attempts that would substantially alter it.
A) Expansion. I will set a goal for the expansion of our town. We need to look at many situations that might occur when expansion takes place. We need to make sure we have accurate numbers in our public safety. Fire, American Medical Response (AMR), and police.
We need to look at what certain expansion will do to our roads and sewer department, also what certain projects will do to our community as a whole.
NOTE: Candidate did not respond to the question before the deadline, so her response was received after other candidate responses were published.
A) We developed a 10 year Plan of Conservation and Development this year. We should follow this plan to grow business development to increase tax revenue and scrutinize residential development to maintain the country feeling of our town. We especially have to be careful with development in the West Street corridor and Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike to not overdevelop these areas to maintain the beautiful town we live in.
A) Future generations. (Note: Edited for word limit.) Southington’s in a prime location to attract the next generation of homeowners. It’s a reasonable commute from main sources of employment for young people in Connecticut such as the fledging bio-science corridor which runs from Medtronic’s in North Haven, to Protein Sciences in Meriden and Jackson Lab in Farmington, the insurance capitol of the world in Hartford, and finally the largest private employer in Connecticut, UTC.
The next generation of homeowners does not have the same demands as generations past. People used to look for accessible parks and dependable schools. Now, they are also looking for greenways, bike lanes, shopping, and dining that is walkable, not surrounded by endless parking lots. They want developments that are environmentally conscious. We must ask ourselves, do we want to position our town to attract the next generation of homeowners or will we continue to live with strip malls and cookie cutter housing developments.
MEET THE REPUBLICANS
A) Economic Development. If I am elected, I will work to build upon our record of accomplishments. Over the past several years, we have worked in collaboration with all of Southington’s boards and departments to successfully promote economic development. In doing so, we have expanded the town’s tax base, thereby lessen the tax burden on all of Southington’s residents.
Likewise, if I am elected, I will examine each application before the Planning and Zoning Commission with consideration and sensitivity to maintaining Southington’s character—building upon a record of 330 acres of open space that we have protected over the past several years.
Paul Chaplinsky Jr.
A) A plan for development. Over the last several years the Planning and Zoning Commission has worked diligently with other boards and the economic development office to strategically plan and implement commercial and industrial growth which brought hundreds of jobs to Southington, with a strong tax base that has allowed us to keep our residential taxes lower for the community. We have done this while also acquiring and preserving hundreds of acres of open space.
The top challenges I will work to address are: Continue to work with our state representatives to make a Connecticut Department of Transportation study of West Street, a state road, a priority so we may realize the improvements of the corridor from our developed strategic vision while building on our efforts to preserve land through smart and community-collaborative zoning regulation revisions along with strong alignment with Town Council for the continued acquisition of appropriate open spaces where possible.
A) Open space. I believe the most important Planning and Zoning Commission issues going forward will continue to be the delicate balance between housing development and the increase of the town’s tax base.
Under Republican Leadership these last eight years, we have worked closely with Southington’s economic development coordinator to ensure Southington is attractive to business and industry. This has secured hundreds of new jobs. We need to continue to make sound, wise decisions for all residents in town.
I understand any increase in housing is a “touchy” topic, but this illustrates that people want to reside and work in our great community. The only way to stop the development of housing on private property is to purchase the land and let it lay fallow, or petition the Town Council to purchase the property as active open space.
If elected, I will continue to make the purchase of open space a top priority.