ABOUT TOWN: Priorities

Limited resources mean having to set priorities. How will Connecticut spend its resources over the next five years? What are its priorities?

That is what the State Plan of Conservation and Development is all about. In fact, that is the definition of planning: Deciding how to balance competing demands on resources.

This time around, the plan itself is short and sweet. The draft “2013-18 Conservation and Development Policies Plan” for Connecticut says what policies and programs are official. And, which of them the agencies and departments of the state commit to support.

What are these priorities? They grow out of six policy statements.

Revitalizing existing regional centers is number one.

Housing is number two, including a commitment to affordable housing goals.

Transit-oriented development is three. This means concentrating growth around transportation nodes and corridors.

Two environment-related matters are next.

Sixth and last are integrated state, regional, and local plans. The process begins with detailed local plans. Next come regional plans, reconciling town-line and inter-town differences. And, finally, deference by the state to local and regional plans unless basic goals and policies of the state are violated.

Where these priority areas are located is not yet official. The map designations in the draft plan can and probably will change.

Weston priority ranking

Great news!

Although we are shown as having a “village center” on state maps, guess what? It is not considered a “village development area.” Weston’s “village center” is not up for expansion. Yet.

Most of us here in Weston have our own private well. We all have private septic systems. Health department rules require significant separating distances between and among them. This is one reason for large lot zoning.

This time around, tertiary treatment trumps being rural. There is no more “rural,” except for what are referred to in the plan as “traditionally rural lands.” Perhaps the Lachat property fits this definition.

Could development of “conservation subdivisions” be permitted everywhere else in Weston?

All land was not created equal. As with the animals in Orwell’s novel Animal Farm, some lands are more equal than others. The 1976 Weston Environmental Resource Manual, available at Weston Library, evaluated Weston, sub-watershed by sub-watershed. Our soil types have remained the same through the years.

By now we are close to full development.

Low density zoning has served us well — no pun intended. It has legitimately protected the water cycle for almost 60 years. It gave septic fields room to expand if necessary.

Large lots protect against intrusion of poisons into a well’s “cone of influence,” either yours or your neighbor’s.

Where Westport waterlines extend into an already built subdivision or two in Weston, a second state priority factor favors development. Lastly, the plan endorses cluster zoning at one-acre density near village centers.

The idea in the plan’s housing section is to encourage use of innovative mechanisms, such as decentralized small-scale water or sewage disposal systems. Food for thought!

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