ABOUT TOWN: Rural no more

No more is Weston “rural.” Previous State Plans of Conservation and Development defined low density areas without infrastructure that way, but not this time.

The new draft of the State Plan of C & D rarely mentions the word! You can find the draft at www.ct.gov/opm. Just check out the maps in the Plan for Growth Management Principle One.

Criteria

Principle One speaks of redevelopment. Revitalizing regional centers fits, too. And areas with existing or currently planned physical infrastructure. There are five criteria in Principle One. Do we meet any? Going down the list, here is what I found.

Does Weston have public water and sanitary service areas? No. Primary highways? Not really. Rail lines and busways? Nope. Major electricity and gas transmission lines? Some, but they do not appear on the state plan maps.

The fifth criterion is the only one we fully meet. We are in a “U.S. Census Bureau-Delineated Urban Area.”

Urban area?

Permanently preserved open space aside, Weston is now considered an urban area.

Growth Management Principle Two is next. State-sponsored efforts to expand housing opportunity are its goal. Since Weston has a “village center” we are qualified.

Growth Management Principle Three combines our “urban area” status with our “village center,” and we show up on this map, too! This category concerns itself with existing nodes and corridors to support transportation. A bit of a stretch for Weston.

Growth Management Principles Four and Five are related. Weston fits well here. Natural resource and historic areas score. A desire to maintain public health and safety gets points. One-hundred year flood zones, aquifer protection, large wetlands, protected open space, and preserved farmland make the grade.

Then there is Growth Management Principle Six. Its message is “promote integrated planning across all levels of government.” Address issues on a statewide, regional, and local basis.

Fall deadline

This desire is supported by action that was taken in the 2010 legislative session. How does this work? Public Act 10-138 requires that the 2013-2018 State C&D Plan revision be prepared through a new process known as “cross-acceptance.” As I read it, the deadline for people to speak up with their comments will arrive on Oct. 2.

What happens next, after there is concurrence? The Office of Policy and Management (OPM) will begin redrawing regional boundaries to a total closer to eight than the present 14.

Where does that leave the question of whether Weston should be part of a regional planning agency, a council of governments, or a council of elected officials?

OPM notes that the three regional planning organizations in Fairfield County comprise three different forms. Does this represent a desire to delay possible mergers?

“About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at www.aboutweston.com. This week’s guest is Toni Boucher, state senator, (R-26th District), who addresses the issue of education reform, as it came before the legislature this past session.

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