Town Plan Update-P&Z Weighs Public Comments As It Considers Hawleyville's Future
Town Plan Updateâ
P&Z Weighs Public Comments As It Considers Hawleyvilleâs Future
By Andrew Gorosko
Hawleyville residents described to Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) members what they want to occur in Hawleyville in the future at a special P&Z meeting held to solicit residentsâ views on updating the 2004 Town Plan of Conservation and Development, as it affects Hawleyville.
About 25 people attended the planning session held at the Hawleyville Firehouse on Hawleyville Road (Route 25) on October 26.
The P&Z is updating the town plan, a decennial advisory document that provides the land use agency with general guidance in its decisionmaking. 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 membersâ state their rationale for a decision.
Among the public amenities that residents at the P&Z meeting said they would like to have in Hawleyville are a park, streetlamps, and sidewalks.
In 1999, the P&Z created a special set of zoning regulations and an accompanying land use zone for Hawleyville Center known as the Hawleyville Center Design District (HCDD). In 2004, the P&Z also created a set of design guidelines for new construction and for renovated construction in that area.
The HCDD regulations seek to foster a neighborhood business district that includes mixed-use activities, physical improvements, and the type of development which is typical of a village center.Â
During the past several months, the P&Zâs update of the town plan has focused on the three local design districts â the HCDD, the Sandy Hook Design District (SHDD) in Sandy Hook Center, and the South Main Village Design District (SMVDD) covering the section of South Main Street lying between its intersection with Borough Lane and the Monroe town line.
First Selectman Pat Llodra told Hawleyville residents at the October 26 session that the physical improvements that have been made to Sandy Hook Center over the years constitute a âsuccess storyâ for that compact commercial hubâs revitalization. The P&Z created the SHDD zoning regulations in 1995.
Those improvements did not occur by chance, she added, but because the people of that area organized to improve Sandy Hook Center, she said.
The first selectman urged Hawleyville residents to organize to improve Hawleyville and to plan for its future.
Hawleyville residents need to define Hawleyvilleâs future character, she said. Amid the current economic downturn, there is time to consider prospects for the future, she said. Hawleyville holds âgood thinkersâ and âgood energyâ to help define its future, she said.Â
P&Z Chairman Lilla Dean, who is a Hawleyville resident, said that through the updated town plan, the agency will state what it would like to occur in Hawleyville during the coming decade.
âWe need ideas,â Ms Dean said.
George Benson, town director of planning and land use, noted that when state officials review town grant applications, they research whether such applications are supported by the content of the town plan.
Land use officials are considering expanding the HCDD zone, Mr Benson noted. The zone currently covers land lying along sections of Hawleyville Road and Barnabas Road.
Ms Dean noted that when a sanitary sewer line was extended eastward into Newtown from Bethel along Mt Pleasant Road about a decade ago, the sewer line was sized large enough to stimulate potential economic development in Hawleyville. The sewer line currently terminates at the Maplewood at Newtown assisted-living complex at 166 Mt Pleasant Road.
Town officials have long considered a privately owned tract that lies between Interstate 84 and Mt Pleasant Road and generally east of Hawleyville Road to be a suitable site for economic development, provided that the Hawleyville sanitary sewer line is extended eastward to that area.
Ms Dean noted that the current zoning regulations would not allow any very large stores or shopping malls to be created in Hawleyville. Such uses would generate too much traffic in the area, she said.
P&Z member Robert Poulin asked whether Hawleyville residents would want sidewalks installed to improve pedestrian travel.
Helga Ruopp of 46 Hawleyville Road noted that much traffic flows through Hawleyville Center, adding that sidewalks would be a nice amenity for local pedestrians.
Ms Dean said that Hawleyville Road and Currituck Road are difficult places for walkers to travel. Sidewalks are intended to improve pedestrian safety, she said
âSidewalks would be a nice addition,â Ms Dean said. âWeâre trying to develop a sidewalk plan for the town,â she added. Sidewalks, however, pose maintenance issues after they are constructed, she said.
A 1999 state Department of Transportation (DOT) Hawleyville planning study, which focused on the Exit 9 interchange of Interstate 84, addressed the issue of sidewalks, she noted.
A resident at the P&Z session urged that streetlamps be installed in Hawleyville, a place which currently is quite dark for nighttime drivers.
Streetlamps improve nighttime safety and generally make an area more appealing, according to one Hawleyville resident.
Kevin Fitzgerald, a Legislative Council member, said that identifying a potential area for a public park would be a first step toward creating a park in Hawleyville. Mr Fitzgerald asked what land might be used for such a facility.
The town owns open space parcels in various areas that could be developed into parks, if needed.
Mr Benson suggested that Hawleyville may be a good place to create a âpocket park,â or small park.
Ms Dean said that the P&Z could include in the updated town plan a need for amenities such as streetlamps, sidewalks, and a park in Hawleyville. Crosswalks are also under consideration.
Ann Marie Mitchell of Butterfield Road urged that the 25 people who gathered for the October 26 P&Z session meet again with the goal of planning for Hawleyvilleâs future.
The current comprehensive town plan, which the P&Z approved in March 2004, 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 voluminous document lists a broad range of planning goals for the town.
The state requires cities and towns to update their plans of conservation and development at least once every ten years.
The 2004 Town Plan of Conservation and Development is available for review at the townâs website, www.newtown-ct.gov/Public_Documents/NewtownCT_POCD/toc.