Town Council holds their own LRPC public hearing
While there have been several public meetings before, the most recent session marked the issue's first public hearing. The Town Council will take into account the public input from the Town Council meeting and the March 23 meeting before the planned vote April 13.
The night was full of disjointed comments, as a vast majority of the speakers did not concretely state their support for or against funding the initiative. Apart from Selectman Rob Mallozzi and Police Commission Chairman Jim Cole, other members of the public spoke more about how they felt the plan could be improved and various odds and ends related to the plan.
Mallozzi, who has voted against the plan twice before, spoke briefly on how he feels about planning overload after listing several plans done in the past.
"New Canaan town government is increasingly, in my opinion, being viewed as a government of studies, reports and plans," Mallozzi said. "And I don't know if that's the right way forward."
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Conversely, Cole supported the planning initiative while suggesting that the previous plans be seamlessly incorporated into the master plan.
"We want to see the master plan effort work and we want to see it be a success," Cole said. "My only plea is that the work that has already be done be incorporated into the master plan, especially the work that has been done by subject matter experts."
Other residents spoke more specifically on different aspects of the plan ranging from green energy to efficient use of facilities and communication.
"I'm just wondering if this plan looks at any potential different energy sources rather than oil heat," Himmel said. "Whether that is future natural gas pipe lines, geothermal, or solar planning ... I was just wondering if that's something that was thought about."
Hobbs also urged that the consultants look at the Tennessee natural gas line already running through town and see if it can somehow be incorporated into some more widespread use.
"Public Works and our fire marshal have, for quite a long period of time, been discussing how to tap into the Tennessee natural gas lines," Christine Wagner, chairman of the LRPC, said. "It is a difficult process. It is something, I would say, the town is undertaking."
Another issue dealt with schematic drawings versus conceptual drawings. Wagner and the consultants reiterated that this plan would not and could not have schematics, which they defined as something very detailed and specific to building and architecture plans.
Perkins Eastman architect Herve Hamon, explained that schematics are generally, due to their very specific nature, created once construction plans for certain projects have begun. This master plan, if approved, would have conceptual drawings of how space and buildings could be utilized along with their estimated costs.
Resident Tanya Bickley also spoke at length about a variety of topics, including the concept of too much planning once again.
"We already have so much good information from over 13 studies made over the last 12 to 13 years, which cost the town about $850,000," Bickley said. "So I really hope that you find that you don't waste your time on stuff that you don't need because there is an awful lot of good information out there."
At the end, Town Council heard from residents on all the above along with suggestions regarding the library, fire department among several other things. Still, support either way for the appropriation was not clear. The public will have another opportunity to voice their opinions on the issue April 13, when Town Council may finally make a decision if members feel it is appropriate.