Hold onto your pocketbook! Here comes the regionalism debate all over again. You can get some background on the subject at the About Town website, or watch our selectmen discuss the subject at Speak Up 2012 at lwvweston.org.
Fast forward to Hartford today. House Bill 6629 had been drawn to convert all regional planning organizations into COGs (Councils of Governments). Language in the present version of the bill suggests, however, that transportation funding will be given to only five MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations).
That means that all 169 towns and cities in Connecticut would merge into five transportation funding regions. All of these 169 towns and cities, which are currently organized into 14 regional planning entities, would become members of COGs by 2015.
With respect to interest in the railroad and I-95 and the Merritt Parkway, Weston seems to be aligned with the “Gold Coast” towns. The proposed new COG for our area runs through Bridgeport into the Lower Naugatuck Valley, and numbers 22 communities.
A provision of HB 6629 is the establishment of a 10-year review of the geographical makeup of regions. Right now would be the time for communities that abut other regions to begin the process of choosing. Weston will have a decision to make.
Weston is different from the other seven towns comprising the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) region in that we have virtually no public water or sewer lines. Should we join a different and more rural region? One that includes the likes of Redding, Ridgefield and Georgetown? If HB 6629 becomes law, we will have to decide!
What’s a COG?
If you watch the video of Speak Up 2012 you will hear a discussion of this very subject, in response to the second question that was asked. Although, the issue was dropped at a later date, when it turned out that the only legislative body taking action in the SWRPA region was Westport’s RTM. They came out in favor of a COG, but with a provision making that decision ineffective if regional approval of establishment of a southwestern Connecticut COG, which would require approval by the legislative bodies of at least four other of the eight SWRPA towns and cities, does not occur by Nov. 19, 2013.
At the time of Speak Up 2012 there was no HB 6629. There was no push by the legislature to change, only the possibility of action.
Town Meeting governance is never mentioned in the underlying definition section of HB 6629. About 100 of Connecticut’s 169 towns and cities have a town meeting/board of selectmen style of government, including Weston.
My question is, What constitutes the legislative body in Weston and these other towns, for purposes of approving COG establishment?
The “legislative body means the Board of Selectmen, Town Council, City Council, Board of Aldermen, Board of Directors, Board of Representatives or mayor and burgesses of a municipality” according to HB 6629.
Further complicating this question is the fact that under our new Town Charter, actions of the Board of Selectmen may still be overridden by Special Town Meeting.
The selectmen intend to appoint yet another Charter Revision Commission at their next meeting. Its work is to be completed in time to be on the ballot on Nov. 5.
Will this commission, following hot on the heels of the recent essentially total rewrite of the charter, answer my question?