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):
A) Uncontrolled building. Residential and commercial development is inevitable in a thriving town like ours, however, development without purposeful and forward-thinking vision can be ruinous for a community.
The most effective opportunity to fully assess the impact of that vision is through the Planning and Zoning Commission development application process. Commissioners must balance the need for commercial and industrial progress to increase Southington’s grand list (thereby reducing the tax burden on property owners), while ensuring such expansion doesn’t adversely affect residents. Additionally, residential building without enough consideration of the impact these projects have on the fabric of our community can be detrimental.
Town infrastructure struggles to keep pace with residential development, a factor we must consider more heavily with new applications. Development is necessary, but I vow to fully assess current and future impacts and consider how each project will benefit and burden Southington for future generations.
A) Protecting the historic and natural landscape. Southington’s historic and natural landscape has changed dramatically over the past two years. Increasing commercial and residential development continues to impact traditionally preserved structures, views, roads, etc. Many residents feel there has to be a better way to bring economic development to Southington without overbuilding and without diminishing our wetlands and open spaces.
As an architectural historian, I work regularly with developers and planners to preserve historic structures through adaptive reuse. I often oversee the repurposing of Connecticut’s old industrial mill buildings and assist in finding innovative ways to cost effectively and appropriately repurpose those buildings. I hope to put my skills in historic preservation and economic development to work on behalf of Southington’s residents to better preserve, promote and sustain Southington’s structures, places and spaces.
A) Development and congestion. Residents I have spoken with are concerned with more development of West Street adding to the already congested conditions there.
Also, there is increased development pressure to build more houses on the remaining available land. With less undeveloped land, prospective builders have proposed zoning changes to allow higher density on small lots. Two have been proposed, and one was accepted by the PZC. I opposed both proposals.
As a commissioner, I will strive to insure that development is sensible, in character with the area, and that the natural environment is preserved and protected as much as possible.
A) West Street corridor. Enhancing our tax base and preserving the quality of life we currently enjoy are two components of my campaign. Those two issues can be addressed by focusing on the West Street Corridor (WSC).
Southington has several opportunities, as well as challenges that the PZC will face over the next two years. Our greatest challenge will be addressing the build out of the WSC. Strategic planning, vision and smart growth will be critical if we are to avoid another Queen Street.
We must build on and enhance the preliminary findings of the PZC report dated September 2013 and the Malone & MacBroom report dated September 2011. Three critical issues that must be part of any further development of the WSC are: 1) protecting the quality of life of those living and working there; 2) increasing our tax base; and 3) minimizing traffic impacts of further development along the WSC.
A) Land preservation. The most important issue for me comes down to land preservation. Being a lifelong resident, maintaining the character of the town is paramount to me. But how to best achieve that?
Open space is an option, but that’s not always available. The PZC must work within existing regulations in rendering decisions. To that end, we must be more proactive in reviewing our regulations to ensure that they still reflect the needs of the town. Using more open and green space as part of proposed applications, reviewing lot size etc all play a part in ensuring what we approve does not detract from the Southington we all love.
Being business friendly is important to growing our tax base and taking some burden off the taxpayer. Our regulations must reflect that the appropriate business is put in the appropriate location such that the character of the area is not compromised.