As an Easton taxpayer, I feel privileged to be among the custodians of a precious gem of 21st century New England: our rural oasis from strip-mall sprawl. My mate and I bought our home here three years ago with great admiration for our new neighbors and predecessors who have had the fortitude to preserve Easton’s rural character.
In the Pennsylvania farm town where I grew up, my siblings and I loved bicycling the 2 miles along our “Sport Hill Road” past cornfields to the village store, and my mother endured a 30-minute drive to Delaware for grocery shopping. Today, three decades later, my parents battle traffic to drive within 3 miles to any one of 6 supermarkets, 8 mega pharmacies, 7 gas stations, and 17 car dealerships. The road is too busy for kids on bikes, the old village store is a bustling bistro, and, with the acres of nearby farms and woods gone, you can hear distant highway traffic from the back yard.
The business district that has been proposed here might seem a “sleepy” or “low-key” project. But changing town zoning regulations to allow commercial expansion in Easton would betray the vision of our forebears and corrode our legacy. In under a decade we would have dismissed the thoughtful 2006 Easton Town Plan of Conservation and Development that townspeople spent five years composing.
Some are under the impression that new mom & pop shops would reduce homeowners’ tax burdens. Citizens For Easton has already debunked that myth; their data show that the opposite could occur (see citizensforeaston.org).
Based on the Easton Courier’s recent reports, others support a business district because the developer is well intentioned. Perhaps he is. But the decision about a zoning amendment should be based not on his character, but on our town’s, which could be changed forever. No matter how architecturally charming, there is abundant evidence in our county and across the country that there would be no turning back after our first shopping center is installed.
If you share my concern, voice your opinion to the Planning & Zoning Board at the town meeting at Helen Keller Middle School on Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Adrienne Jane Burke-291 North Park Avenue-Easton
I AM DORI WOLLEN OF 8 CEDAR HILL LANE. WE MOVED TO EASTON 37 YRS AGO AND CHOSE EASTON BECAUSE OF ITS RURAL CHARACTER, STRICT ZONING, GOOD SCHOOLS AND LACK OF INFRASTRUCTURE. I ASSUME THAT ALL OF US WERE ATTRACTED TO EASTON FOR THE SAME REASONS AND THOSE WHO WERE LOOKING FOR CONVENIENCE MOVED TO SURROUNDING TOWNS INSTEAD.
WHAT CHANGED? TO MOST OF US VERY LITTLE. PERIODICALLY SOMEONE COMES FORWARD WITH A BRIGHT IDEA, HOW ABOUT CHANGING OUR ZONING AND CREATE A COMMERCIAL DISTRICT OR ENHANCE ONE. WHY DO WE NEED A BANK? MOST OF US BANK ON-LINE OR USE AN ATM. GREISER STORE HAS AN ATM MACHINE AND SO DO ALL SUPERMARKETS. NOT SURE ABOUT THE VILLAGE STORE. WHY DO WE NEED A BAKERY? SILVERMAN’S, THE VILLAGE STORE AND GREISER STORE (ALL GRANDFATHERED ESTABLISHMENTS) CARRY BAKERY GOODS. WHY DO WE NEED A CLEANERS? THERE ARE CLEANERS ON OUR WAY TO THE SUPERMARKETS, LESS THAN 20 MIN FOR MOST OF US. IN FACT HAVING A CLEANERS IN TOWN WOULD BE AN EXTRA, UNNECESSARY TRIP FOR MANY OF US. A REAL ESTATE OFFICE AT BLUEBIRD LASTED FOR LESS THAN A YEAR, IF I REMEMBER IT CORRECTLY.
WOULD A SMALL COMMERCIAL ZONE HELP OUR TAXES? NO. USING THE NEW MILL RATE FOR THE UPCOMING FISCAL YEAR, WE WOULD NEED ABOUT 25 VILLAGE STORES TO MAKE A 1% DENT IN OUR TAXES, AND 247 VILLAGE STORES FOR A 10% DENT. AND THESE NUMBERS DO NOT INCLUDE ADDED INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS OF POLICE, FIRE AND EMS. DOES IT MAKE SENSE BREAKING ZONING WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT TAX BENEFITS? THE ANSWERS TO ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS AND STATEMENTS ARE A RESOUNDING NO. FURTHER, NOW AS A MEMBER OF THE CONSERVATION COMMISSION, I NEED TO REMIND YOU ALL THAT PART OF THE LAND IN QUESTION ABUTS WETLAND AND WHETHER IT IS A CONFORMING OR NON-CONFORMING LOT, WE HAVE STRICT REGULATIONS THAT NEED TO BE FOLLOWED.
ALSO, I WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE EXISTING ZONING VIOLATION ON 450 SPORT HILL ROAD ISSUED ON MARCH 21, 2013 AND CONTINUES TO BE OUTSTANDING, IS DULY NOTED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS SPECIAL PERMIT APPLICATION.
IN CLOSING , I AM AGAINST GRANTING A SPECIAL PERMIT FOR THIS AND ANY OTHER SIMILAR COMMERCIAL, NON-FARMING RELATED ACTIVITY.
I oppose the proposed amendment to current zoning regulations to create a new district called a “Town Green Center” at the intersection of Sport Hill Road, Center Road and Banks Road.
I oppose this amendment for the following reasons:
- Approving the proposed amendment will effectively break our Town’s current zoning laws that have protected Easton from developers and businesses since 1941. The stores that are currently doing business in Easton pre-date Easton’s strict no-commercial zoning regulations.
- We cannot limit commercial development to a particular piece of property in Easton since “Spot Zoning” is illegal.
- The revenue generated from a small shop is negligible. For example, a small commercial facility with a fair market value of $1 million would generate annual taxes of $16,520 or a savings of about $6.61 per household. Accordingly, it would take approximately 20 to 30 village stores to make a 1% dent in the Town budget.
- Commercial development will bring about increased traffic, higher Town expenses for the infrastructure to support it, a loss of the uniqueness of our Town and a decrease in property values.
- Some people advocate commercial development for the sake of convenience, including a bank, pharmacy, dry cleaner, ice cream shop, hardware store, wine shop, butcher, pizzeria, etc. If everyone’s idea of convenience is not satisfied, then what is accomplished and at what cost?
- As the current stewards of Easton, the residents bear a responsibility for our Town. Anything we do will affect the Town for generations to come and any changes that are enacted will be irreversible.
- Many people point to the Weston Town Shopping Center as a model for Easton. This is a bad comparison for several reasons. First, Easton is close to Monroe, Fairfield, Trumbull where Easton residents can go to stores, restaurants, etc. Weston does not have the same proximity to town(s) with significant commercial development. Second, Weston was in the process of enacting zoning regulations which would have prevented the center, but the center was rushed to get in under the gun. Weston continues to have pressure to expand the center which they resist or to have other commercial areas which they also resist.
- The State Department of Environmental Protection discourages development in the watershed, especially sewers, and encourages no more than two bedrooms per upland acre. Easton does not have the infrastructure (i.e. – sewers, roads, etc.) for commercial development.
- Remember that once the doors to development are open, they can never be closed.
- The bottom line is the “reward” of having some minor conveniences and minimal revenue is outweighed by the risk of jeopardizing our current protective zoning regulations.
Thank you for your time and consideration. James Riling 265 North Park Avenue. Easton, CT 06612
Save the Date! Join us for the 5th Annual Easton Farm Tour – Saturday, August 10, from 10am to 3pm. This celebration of Easton, a local farming community within Fairfield County CT, is a self-guided tour of Easton farms. This event begins at the Easton Firehouse Green, One Center Road, Easton, Connecticut. Meet us here to check in and pick up a map and pass to events and incentives offered by farmers and community organizations at the different locations throughout day.
This year we invite you to consider the Easton Firehouse Green as your home base throughout your tour. On the Green you can enjoy food, music and family entertainment. Skinny Pines – an Easton-based purveyor of wood-fired pizzas –will be on site with their mobile wood-fired oven selling pizza, Dan Tressler’s String Fingers band — one of our most talented Easton musicians — performing live music, and the Easton Community Center will be on hand with some old time fun and games for the entire family. “This day will capture the essence of days long gone with the simple enjoyment of a small town, a few farms and wholesome family time” said Lori Cochran -Dougall, co-chair of the Easton Farm Tour.
Save the date! Check back for details!
That’s right, the 4th Annual Easton Farm Tour is here! Families from all over Fairfield County will be descending on Easton again to explore and enjoy the natural bounties offered by our local farms and farm stands.
Come to the Easton Farm Tour Saturday, August 11, from 10 AM to 3 PM. Fun for the whole family! See where real food comes from. Show up on the Easton Firehouse Green for this self-guided tour any time between 10 am and 3pm to pick up a map and listing of participating farms and events for the day.
For more information visit our Farm Tour page or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark your calendars – the 4th Annual Easton Farm Tour is happening on Saturday, August 11th, 2012.
We have some added surprises this year so check back for details!