Changes to plan reflect traditional thinking

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Turner Miller Group President Brian Miller discusses changes to the Beacon Falls Plan of Conservation and Development during a public hearing July 10. –LUKE MARSHALL
Turner Miller Group President Brian Miller discusses changes to the Beacon Falls Plan of Conservation and Development during a public hearing July 10. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The Planning and Zoning Commission is ready to embrace a development plan for the next 10 years.

The commission has been working for the past two years on updating the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development. Per state guidelines, the plan needs to be updated every 10 years.

The new plan, which was drafted by Cheshire’s Turner Miller Group, includes a few key changes.  

One of the changes was a recommendation on how the town should proceed with the sewer lines.

“An important part of the plan was putting together the land use and sewer service area,” Turner Miller President Brian Miller said.

Miller said that the Land Use Committee and the Water Pollution Control Authority mapped out where the sewer service areas currently are and where the next logical places for the town to extend the service.

Miller pointed out that many of the recommend areas are encompassed by areas that are already serviced, but those specific areas just have not been tied into the sewer system yet.

“It makes sense to extend service inward rather than outward. This is what the Land Use Committee, in conjunction with the Water Pollution Control Authority, came up with,” Miller said.

The other big change to the plan was dividing the town up into three distinct development districts.

The first district, which runs along the Naugatuck River and Route 42, was the town’s core area and included most of its retail and industrial construction, as well as some high density residential construction.

“That area has sewer service and water service and has been the traditional core of the town, as well as where the economical development opportunities would occur,” Miller said.

The second district was the suburban neighborhood area where a lot of residential development has already occurred.

According to Miller that development area consists of low-density single-families homes, some of which are tied into the sewer service.

The third district consists of rural areas that encircle the town.

“These are areas that the plan calls for either conservation or very low density development,” Miller said. “Much of it is already owned by the town or the state, but not all of it. There’s farm land.”

Miller said the creation of the districts was a reflection of how the town originally started. 

“So you can see this is an attempt to mirror the traditional development pattern of the town. That’s really what the goal is … to have a compact development area of traditional New England town with some surrounding residential development and keep the open space and environmental features surrounding it,” Miller said.

Miller said the fact that the town is surrounded by open space is what makes it unique, especially when compared to neighboring towns.

“The town is defined by the fact it is a point in the valley surrounded by hills. So we think that’s an important part of the planning component,” Miller said. “When you go from Beacon Falls into Naugatuck, you know you’re going from Beacon Falls into Naugatuck.”

Miller said implementing the changes may require changes to the town’s zoning regulations, such as tightening the regulation about what can be built in the rural areas and loosening the regulations about what can be placed in the business district.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman David Chadderton agreed that the town will have to revisit some zoning regulations.

“We’ll have to look in on the various changes that we’ve proposed that are not in conjunction with our various zoning regulations now. So we’ll have to make a few adjustments to our zoning regulations,” Chadderton said.

A public hearing on the plan last Wednesday drew no public comment. The commission is expected to adopt the plan at its meeting Thursday.

“This brings us to a closure on a two-and-a-half-year effort,” Chadderton said. “It’s taken quite a long time to get all that input, to get all those meetings, get everything filed together so we can make a document to give us guidance for the next 10 years. That’s the intent of it all.”