Category Archives: Town meetings

Planning and Zoning Hearing on Proposed Town Plan of Conservation and Development 2018-2028 29, 2018 – Monday, October 7:00pm @ Helen Keller

The proposed 2018-2028 Easton Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) is an important document that will guide the town for the next 10 years. The following remarks reflect Citizens for Easton’s mission statement to vigorously pursue, support, and encourage efforts that preserve Easton’s scenic, rural, agrarian, and small town characteristics. Our current POCD’s introduction outlines well the role of Easton and vision for the future, and we urge the Planning and Zoning Commission to retain those values in the introduction the proposed 2018-2028 POCD. Continuing development pressures, the importance of low-density housing, demands on the watershed and public drinking water supply, have only made the Introduction and Summary in our current town plan even more applicable today and into the future.

We have the following suggestions to improve the proposed Town Plan:

Exclude a Village District as it would create more issues and cost to the Town than any perceived advantages it may create:

  • Traffic, congestion, traffic lights, sidewalks and illumination will irreparably degrade rural character creating a traffic nightmare
  • Zoning enforcement would be problematic and costly
  • Threat of pollution to the Easton reservoir
  • Since Sport Hill Rd is a state road, Easton would not be in control of whatever measures the State may implement for control
  • It is doubtful that implementing a village district would create a space for social interaction-people just do not gather to socialize in stores. There are already numerous spaces in Town where people congregate like the ECC, Library, Gazebo, and the ever-popular Citizens for Easton Farm Tour
  • The tax burden would not be alleviated- It would require approximately 185 more stores similar in size to the Easton Village Store to reduce the average resident’s tax bill 10%; tax revenues would then be offset by costs of additional town services.
  • There is already a multitude of shopping in all of our border towns, so creating a commercial district in Easton for the convenience of the residents is just not necessary.
  • It would open the door for other areas of commercial development changing the rural character of Easton forever.
  • The main issue of the P&Z public meeting on June 20 was the Village District and the majority was not in favor of this proposal. This was also noted in the Easton Courier on June 28: “About twice as many speakers opposed the Village Center as favored it, with some others just raising concerns about the POCD process.” This is contrary to the first bullet point on page 1 of the draft POCD noting: “ This DRAFT is based on: Input from the community at a June 2018 informational meeting.”

Designate the town-owned 18-22 South Park Avenue property as Dedicated Open Space

  • Although there appears to be much “open space” in Easton, the updated draft notes that 6,434 acres in town is “Managed Open Space” which is not preserved or restricted to open space, nor protected from development or permanently reserved as conservation land. The preservation of the 18-22 South Park Avenue property would be a valuable addition to the town’s Dedicated Open Space.
  • The State Office of Policy and Management designated the 18-22 South Park Avenue parcel as a local conservation priority for the Town of Easton’s upcoming 2018-2023 State C&D Plan and we urge the PZC to designate it as such.
  • The 18-22 South Park Avenue property is a critical habitat for sensitive species and the Mill River is a Class 1 wild trout stream.
  • Numerous letters from many conservation organizations such as Connecticut Audubon Society, Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, Wildlife in Crisis, National Audubon Society, Rivers Alliance and more have been submitted urging preservation of the property.
  • The entire length of South Park Avenue to the Fairfield/Trumbull border should be noted as a future scenic road.
  • The southern end of South Park Avenue should also be a “Desirable Gateway Element.”
  • The 18-22 South Park Avenue property should be added to the Mill River Valley Greenway.
  • On August 18, 2016, CFE made a presentation to the Board of Selectmen for retaining and designating the South Park property as open space preserved in perpetuity. That presentation is online at https://citizensforeaston.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/sp_presentation_081816-post-presentation.pdf and we submit that as part of our comments.

Housing Needs

We do support the recommendations on page 44 #1a and #3 to investigate successful aging in place initiatives that could help resident seniors stay in their own homes, such as the “Stay at Home” program, whereby neighbors help neighbors “age in place” with transportation, simple home repairs and tasks, in addition to offering neighborly connections and fostering a caring sense of community. However, urge the exclusion of age-restricted and/or retirement communities. These cannot be restricted to solely serve our town’s seniors, and the cost of this type of housing is expensive. Should sales lag in newly built age-restricted, high-density developments, developers could appeal to convert the sales to non age-restricted buyers, as happened in neighboring Fairfield’s Stratfield Falls Development. The need for protection of the public drinking water supply is a critical concern, also.

Farms

CFE applauds P&Z’s efforts in exploring ways for farms to expand their base of operations to help them thrive and see a way forward in the future, so long as it does not foster congestion, traffic, – or above all – threaten the fragile watershed, the protection of which has remained a core Easton mandate for over a century. Allowing major non-agricultural uses (e.g. distilleries, breweries, etc.) is of concern since such enterprises have been known to have adverse environmental effects and should not be included in the POCD without further study.

Conservation Design Development

This type of development could be an invitation to more intensive development of land and adversely affect water quality and other natural resources. Until a more in depth study of this approach is conducted, in addition to how it relates to septic, wells and the water table, this section should not be included.  The future will put increased demands on our current reservoirs imminently such as the upcoming increased intensive use of the reservoirs to supply 1.5 million gallons a day to other Fairfield County towns

Additional Recommendations

  • Protect the town‘s groundwater resources by enacting additional aquifer and watershed protections.
  • Review the town health code with stricter standards in recognition of our town’s special environmental issues including its presence on a public water supply watershed.
  • Require a biological survey to identify species from the State Natural Diversity Database on land where development is proposed.
  • Incorporate guidelines to preserve the attractiveness of lakes and waterways; protect rare and endangered natural and archaeological features.
  • Any street lights or lights from buildings should be shielded appropriately, timed or use motion sensors.
  • POCD 5.1 Maintain and Enhance Community Facilities- Page 50- expand DPW garage by closing Bibbins: Local residents utilize this road to escape the 136 freeway. Closing this road would force the residents to be stuck in the commuter traffic. Also, the 2016 Morehouse Civic Park Amendment to the Town Plan calls for DPW Yard Relocation. If DPW garage needs to expand, doesn’t Morehouse fill that need?
  • Explore reciprocity with Fairfield and Westport regarding use of town beaches
  • Explore offering a one year subscription to the ECC for new residents

Inconsistencies with State Growth Principals

  • Principle 3: The Village District does not seem to be applicable here. The State POCD’s intent seems to be regarding competition for and generation of economic growth and development along urban arterial roads with significant commercial development.
  • Principle 4: The proposed Easton POCD seems inconsistent because it recommends (on page 60) supporting the extension of natural gas service and extension of the public water supply system to the Firemen’s Green area. The State POCD looks to minimize the need to expand infrastructure to support new development in rural areas

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Citizens for Easton Board

Preserve Easton: Important P&Z Public Hearing , Monday, October 29 at 7 p.m Helen Keller Middle School

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The Village District proposal in the draft of the 2018-2018 Plan of Conservation and Development will put this country-like area at risk.

Monday, October 29, 2018, 7 p.m. at Helen Keller Middle School is the official Planning and Zoning public hearing during which residents can speak regarding the updated draft of the 2018-2028 Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), which will guide the conservation and development of Easton for the next 10 years. Your attendance is critical.

Among the proposals is a “Village District” (Section 8-2j of the CT General Statutes) in the Sport Hill Road, Firehouse Green and Silverman’s Farm area. The proposed POCD lists that possible uses for that area could include small retail stores, specialty shops, restaurant, farm and garden centers, craft centers, business, professional offices, public services, post office, and residential. The Firehouse Green and Silverman’s Farm area are a special part of Easton’s identity. More stores, traffic, congestion, lights, and commercial businesses will put this country-like area at risk. Read more here.

There are many other important items in the POCD, so please take some time to review this critical document.banner_tri_web

Planning & Zoning Special Meeting Agenda for Thursday, July 12 at 7 p.m.

P&Z will review with Glenn Chalder comments received as a result of the public information meeting held June 20, 2018.

If you wish for your opionion to be considered, it must be received prior to this meeting. Please email P&Z at: manania@eastonct.gov

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PUBLIC MEETING ON 2018 PLAN OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT WEDNESDAY JUNE 20

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P&Z Releases Proposed Update to Plan of Conservation & Development

Do you cherish what makes Easton a special oasis amidst the bustle of Fairfield County? P&Z is considering a “Village District” in the proposed update of the Easton Plan of Conservation and Development (click here for more info) that could allow new commercial businesses in the Firehouse Green, Route 59 and Silverman’s Farm area such as small retail, specialty shops, restaurants, farm/garden centers, craft centers, businesses, professional offices, and public buildings.

P&Z will hold a public meeting on the draft on Wednesday, June 20, 7 p.m. at Helen Keller Middle School.

Existing retail establishments in town predate current zoning restrictions adopted in the 1940s when the town forefathers wisely enacted one- and three-acre residential zoning to control development and protect the watershed. With increasing stresses on the watershed and development pressures, it is more important than ever to retain our existing zoning.

The Facts About the Proposed Town Green Center

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: 

  1. 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.  
  1. We cannot limit commercial development to a particular piece of property in Easton since “Spot Zoning” is illegal. 
  1. 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.  
  1. 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.  
  1. 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? 
  1. 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.   
  1. 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.  
  1. 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. 
  1. Remember that once the doors to development are open, they can never be closed.  
  1. 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

I Favor Easton

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