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P&Z Begins Considering Warehouse Text Amendment



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Newtown Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) conducted a special meeting on September 1 to discuss a text amendment regarding warehouse and distribution centers. The special meeting took place prior to the commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 7 pm in the Municipal Center Council Chambers.

P&Z members present were chair Dennis Bloom, Gregory Rich, and Brian Leonardi, as well as Land Use Agency Director of Planning George Benson.

The meeting was prompted by the recent denial of Application 22.20, from Newtown resident Doreen Trimarchi on behalf of Newtown Neighbors Alliance, LLC. It proposed a six-month moratorium on warehouses/distribution centers and garnered much public participation.

At the special meeting, Benson noted for the record, “This is really just to get organized. In the future we will have it open for the public to come in and discuss it with us.” He explained that these would be subcommittee meetings and not public hearings, but that the agenda would list time for designated speakers.

Benson said that right now they would be looking over “what was submitted by the neighborhood group for the moratorium.”

“I think it’s a good beginning,” Benson added. “It really spells out exactly where all the references to warehouses are. It gives some information on different types of warehouses, and I think it gives a good background.”

Leonardi voiced that he appreciates the time that the Newtown Neighbors Alliance, LLC, took to create their write-up. P&Z officials then began to brainstorm scenarios of special exceptions regarding lot acreage, warehouse size, traffic, and other variables.

“That’s why we’re meeting, because it’s a hard decision to make,” Benson said. He added that the main task they must do is define the different types of warehouses. He encouraged the P&Z members to do their own research, too, about different town regulations.

During the discussion, Benson mentioned that they do not have control over warehouse/distribution center tenants.

Leonardi said, “From my perspective, I really think at the end of the day, it’s not necessarily — some of it is the size, but I think what people are really concerned about is the traffic. I think that’s the core issue.”

They talked about how P&Z decisions on state roads can be impacted by the State of Connecticut, but Benson said ultimately the P&Z’s rights for approving or denying an application cannot be taken away.

The P&Z members also briefly talked about the title of “intervenor” for applications and how in the past they believed some were not necessarily credible sources.

Benson segued the conversation, saying, “Back to what we were talking about. We can’t not let people develop the areas that are business and industrial.”

He also said that “traffic on the state roads is the state’s responsibility.”

Benson concluded by suggesting that the group work on researching definitions and bring that information to go over at the next meeting. Then they can begin figuring out who to put on the upcoming meeting agendas as guest speakers.

P&Z’s next regularly scheduled meeting is set to take place on Thursday, October 6, at 7 pm, in the Newtown Municipal Council Chambers.

To learn more about the P&Z, visit newtown-ct.gov/planning-zoning-commission.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

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