Planning and Zoning Hearing Part 1, October 17 - Recap
The recent Planning and Zoning Hearing was a success. Over one hundred of you came out to listen and act. And our commission listened. It remains to be seen whether they heard us.
Despite the board’s obviously disorganized “draft” zoning regulations, many intelligent and insightful questions were asked that night.
The inclusion of hotels and theaters was discussed at length and in answer to the direct question as to how these came to be added to the new regulations, town planner Liz Glidden stated they were mere requests by others: “People came into my office and suggested them.”
Haddam’s Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) was another major topic of conversation, and we asked why the commission would not adhere to this important document, which after extensive research and collaboration, spells out specifically how our town is to be planned. (Under state law, a town P&Z must make decisions that are in accord with the POCD.) There seemed to be a little confusion from our P&Z board as to how to apply this important plan, with Chairman Mal Gorin stating, “[The POCD] is like the Bible; you can find anything you want in there.”
CPPL feels Haddam’s P&Z needs to take a more careful look at how to apply the POCD to go forward with the proper development in Haddam for the benefit of the entire town.
A town does not plan through zoning; it zones through planning.
Plan first. Then change your zoning to conform to your plan.
Both candidates for 1st Selectmen, Paul DeStefano (R) and Peter Arseneault (D), have come out in favor of developing the 17.4 acres of protected open space.
Consequently, we do not endorse either candidate for 1st Selectman.
Remember, if you do not wish to vote for either candidate you always have the option of voting line 1C or merely not voting for first selectman at all, the rest of the votes on your ballot will still be valid.
Voting for others, but not for the first selectman, will lower their total vote counts, and will send a message that the town is not happy with them because of their support for the land swap.
For selectmen candidates, Sean Donlan (D) and Bob Duval (R), it does not matter who you vote for because they are running uncontested and will both be seated regardless of their number of votes.
As for the candidates for Planning and Zoning, one important member has prematurely approved the land swap. In a press release written by Jon Crane, a public relations consultant for Riverhouse LLC, Chairman Malcolm Gorin made a statement in favor of the land swap this past spring: "Transferring the property would allow us to change the zoning to commercial and give local business people the opportunity to develop the property…I would like to urge the State of Connecticut to approve the land swap and trust the Haddam Planning and Zoning Commission to do its job and see that the property is appropriately zoned and developed.”
This statement was used in Hartford during the legislative session and was part of the reason the swap was voted through. Because he was quoted as Chairman on the developer’s website and referred to as chairman in the public relations release, Gorin’s prejudicial statement was taken as the sentiments of the entire town. We think that this was wrong.
How can a commission chair announce in advance of any public hearing and/or vote what a decision of this magnitude should be? This predetermination that the zoning should be changed shows that Gorin is prejudiced in favor of the developer. This is unfair to our town residents. If he remains in office, we do not think he will serve our town well.
The three Planning and Zoning candidates who we feel believe in fair and proper planning for Haddam are John Bosco (D), Jamin Laurenza (R), and Art Kohs (R).
For P&Z Alternate we endorse Ed Wallor (R).
Our Zoning Board of Appeals favored candidate is Mary Hickish (D).
Our politicians need to earn our votes, and that means demonstrating to the citizens that all important decisions are made in a transparent manner and contribute to the well-being of all of Haddam’s residents.
Since no formal studies have ever been done to determine the costs and benefits of this project on the 17.4 acres, it seems premature to emphatically declare that the proposed development is a “win-win” for the town and state. We are not anti-development in Haddam; we just want any development of this magnitude to have a concrete plan to benefit the town. It takes time to work out all the details but it can be done and must be done to ensure that the character of the town and the Connecticut River area stays intact.
Many of us will agree that Haddam is a special place to live. Natural beauty and economic development can coexist if we take sensible steps to develop our town.
Upcoming Planning and Zoning Hearing Continuation – Thursday, November 10
7 p.m. Haddam Firehouse, 439 Saybrook Rd, Higganum
Please attend this important meeting to hear the conclusion of P&Z’s decision to remove or leave such things as hotels and theaters in the revised draft regulations, as well as other regulations, such as blight, parking, etc. These regulations affect you directly.
This is a pivotal meeting and because of the overwhelming number of citizens at the last meeting, this second part of the hearing will be held in the Firehouse to accommodate the large crowd. It is imperative that you attend this meeting to continue asking your questions, to listen, and to hear the board’s discussion and vote on these important issues.
Spread the word and tell your friends and neighbors to come and be a part of the future of Haddam.
Please note that the meeting will be held in the Firehouse at 439 Saybrook Road, Higganum.
Thank you in advance for attending—we need you there. And your friends and neighbors!
We will update you monthly on our continuing efforts to stop the swap in a number of ways and get the town to plan for the benefit of us all.
Paid for by Citizens for Protection of Public Lands, Melissa Schlag – Agent, PO Box 105, Higganum, CT 06441.
This message was made independent of any candidate or political party.