P&Z talks future of New Canaan
Now that New Canaan has established a 10-year road map to conserve and develop the town, planning and zoning commissioners are studying how to kick off the tasks outlined in the plan.
For the first time, the town's Plan of Conservation and Development, which was approved in June and became effective Aug. 1, has two sections. The "Strategic Element" deals mostly with long-term goals, and the "Implementation Element" tackles specific steps to implement the overall strategies.
"Putting everything on paper is not enough," Commission Chairman Laszlo Papp said Tuesday.
The commission has decided to establish an implementation committee, made up of town officials and members of the public. Papp recommended that the committee include two members from the Planning and Zoning Commission; one member each from the Town Council, Board of Selectmen, Conservation Commission and the Chamber of Commerce; two people from the public and the downtown captain.
A downtown captain, as the POCD describes, would be responsible for coordinating the overall maintenance of the area.
"The strategic is more long term and more visionary in nature and the implementation element is much more the day-to-day coordination to actually accomplish all the objectives," Chalder said.
He explained that the town should not treat the plan like a checklist but an action document, "instead of having a static plan that's supposed to last for 10 years, almost like a bible."
"The concept of an implementation element arose through our work with municipalities because one community called us back five years after adopting the plan and said, `The plan is all done, we need a new one,'" Chalder said.
He said the implementation committee would be able to amend the plan as significant changes, such as new technology, occur.
"The communities that established an implementation committee felt that they accomplished more" and communities that did not felt that the plan "fell off the radar," he said.
Other Connecticut towns that established an implementation committee include Westport, Greenwich and Madison.
Chalder agreed that the committee should have about nine members who would alternate in three-year rolling terms.
The implementation element does not need a vote to be adopted.
Town Council member Sven Englund, who was attending the meeting, told the commission that the soon-to-be established committee should try to "pick some of the low-hanging fruit" first in order to get more people involved on the plan.
The document considers, for instance, that alternative types of housing are considered. In its "Senior Friendly Housing" section, the plan states that "the overall goal is to promote a variety of housing types, styles and prices to meet a variety of present and future housing needs."
When it comes to downtown, the document proposes considering increasing the allowed limits on building height, encouraging mixed uses (residential and business) in certain areas, creating a new zoning district on the west side of the business area, and expanding parking.
Other suggestions in the POCD include undertaking a parking study, increasing public access to open space and regulating institutional use in residential areas with a "planned development district" approach, which would give the commission "the maximum amount of discretion in reviewing institutional uses."
The 2014 Plan of Conservation and Development and the latest version of the plan's implementation document can be found on the Planning and Zoning's page on the town's website, www.newcanaan.info.
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