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.
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
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
It is anticipated that the final public hearing on the 99 unit Saddle Ridge application will take place Monday, June 13, 8 PM at the HKMS media center. Continue reading