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P&Z Reviews Economic Development For Town Plan Update

Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members are reviewing local economic development information for inclusion in the decennial update of the Town Plan of Conservation and Development.

At an April 4 P&Z session, Elizabeth Stocker, town director of economic and community development, reported to P&Z members on economic development that has occurred since the 2004 town plan was published, as well as the prospects for continued economic growth.

The town has the potential for future commercial and industrial growth, when considering land use rules that have been created to foster such development, Ms Stocker wrote in her report to the P&Z.

Regulatory measures, such as the South Main Village Design District (SMVDD) zoning rules, have been created to allow flexibility in growth, she said.

A 22-acre site at 201 South Main Street in Botsford, which was formerly occupied by Blue Linx Corporation for a building materials supply depot, would be a valuable and attractive site for a major development project, Ms Stocker noted. Blue Linx removed its structures from the site after multiple roof collapses occurred there following the heavy snows of the 2011.

Also in Botsford, there are several properties lying east of Sand Hill Plaza that hold the potential for future economic growth, according to Ms Stocker.

Sandy Hook Center is undergoing public investment in a streetscape improvement project that includes a redesigned four-way intersection that will improve vehicular and pedestrian traffic flow, and also provide sidewalks for Riverside Road, Glen Road, and Washington Avenue, she added.

“New residential development within the [Sandy Hook Center] district will help provide the critical mass necessary for economic strength and growth of businesses, and should be considered as a means to enhance the attractive character and natural beauty of the area,” Ms Stocker wrote.

According to Ms Stocker’s analysis of economic conditions, between 2004 and June 2012, 46 new commercial/industrial buildings were constructed locally. Also some additions, building upgrades, and tenant fit-outs occurred during that period, she said.

This development generally occurred along the South Main Street corridor, in the borough, along Turnberry Lane, in Sandy Hook Center, and also in Hawleyville.

Major projects along South Main Street included: creation of the 58,000-square-foot Highland Plaza retail center at the former site of The Fireside Inn at 123 South Main Street; the construction of the 72,000-square foot Plaza South retail center at 266 South Main Street; construction of a 15,000-square-foot Walgreens Pharmacy at 49 South Main Street; the redevelopment of the Black Swan Fireside Hearth & Home business at 182 South Main Street; and the creation of the LMT Communications, Inc, a publishing firm, at 84 South Main Street.

Also, the P&Z approved plans for a 35,000-square-foot industrial building for Marcus Dairy at 352 South Main Street, but the firm later decided to construct new facilities in another town.

The report from Ms Stocker also describes various economic development that occurred or is planned for the borough along Queen Street and Church Hill Road, in Sandy Hook Center, along Turnberry Lane, off Commerce Road, along Edmond Road, and in Hawleyville.

 

Employers

According to the report, the largest employer in town is the Newtown Board of Education, which has 767 employees. The town government employs 166 people. Together, they provide 933 jobs.

The state Department of Correction at Garner Correctional Institution employs 294 people. The UConn Health Center staff at Garner comprises 81 people. Together, both agencies employ 375 people at the high-security prison, which specializes in mental health care for inmates.

Other major local employers include Masonicare at Newtown with 291 workers; Taunton Press with 240 staff members; Charter Communications with 175 workers; Stop & Shop supermarket with 174 employees; Big Y supermarket with 165 people; and Curtis Packaging Corp with 148 staff members.    

P&Z Chairman Lilla Dean thanked Ms Stocker for providing the economic development report.

Ms Stocker said she will be making various revisions to her economic development report before its final submission to the P&Z for inclusion in the updated town plan.

The town plan is an advisory document that provides the P&Z with general guidance. P&Z approvals or rejections of land use applications typically state whether a given application respectively adheres to or diverges from the tenets of the town plan when P&Z members state their reasons for a decision.

The current town plan addresses a broad range of issues facing the town, including: community character, conservation, natural resources, open space, housing, economic development, community facilities and transportation. The document lists a wide variety of planning goals for the town.

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