Commission continues hearing on plan revisions

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ProspectBushPROSPECT — The process of revising the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development is nearly complete.

The Planning and Zoning Commission has been working with the Cheshire-based consulting firm Milone & MacBroom to update the plan, a process that has to be done every 10 years.

“The process for us, as this was just an update and not a full rewrite, we went through the report and pulled out sections that we thought needed to be fully updated,” said Ali Church, a planner with Milone & MacBroom, at a public hearing on the updates Aug. 21.

The company updated the demographics, housing, land use and development potential portions of the plan.

Church said the demographics portion was updated to reflect the latest information from the 2010 census.

The company also looked at the changes in population over the last 10 years and what types of housing has been built in that time.

“If you’re looking at an aging population, if you’re looking at different amounts of school children, what does that do for your housing? Do you need different types of housing,” Church said.

An up-to-date land use map was also developed.

Church said that the company used the highest use of each land parcel in town to designate its use. So if there was one house and multiple businesses on a parcel it would be designated as commercial.

Finally, the company delved into the development potential of the town.

“We took the land use change map and looked at what the existing use is now and how that’s changed since the last POCD. So we try to see patterns and try to see where we think the development is heading,” Church said.

Church pointed out that near the town’s border with Waterbury there has been a large increase of age-restricted housing.

“We look at what large parcels haven’t been built on, what hasn’t changed and what may offer potential for the future,” Church said.

Church said the company also looks at the open space plan to locate parcels that need to be preserved and ones the town would want to target for development.

Resident Tom Wheeler brought up concerns that a portion of the farm he owns was marked off as a conservation area in the future land use map.

Church explained that only the parks and open space areas would be part of the conservation area and that his farm, which he uses to generate income, can still be used in the same way.

Church said the company is also recommending a Town Center District be created along the intersection of routes 68 and 69, which may have slightly different zoning or building standards, in order to establish a centralized downtown.

 “I think one of the big ultimate goals of the Plan of Conservation and Development is to eventually get to some policies and objectives that align with a future land use map,” Church said.

Church pointed out that part of the plan includes an action agenda which recommends actions to reach that goal and which branch of the government should be in charge of that action. Church said that some of the recommendations were brought over from the previous plan, some were updated and some are brand new.

Some of the recommendations on the agenda are educating businesses and applicants on the desirable types of building designs, signage and landscapes for the Route 69 and Route 68 corridors, identifying critical open space areas and developing a policy in regards to the siting of wind turbines.

The public hearing was continued to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Town Hall.

“What we’d really like is public feedback,” Church said.