Do Not Revise Fairfield Hills Master Plan
To the Editor:
An article in The Bee from earlier this month (The Newtown Bee, December 11, 2020, “Selectmen Accept FFH Residential Revision, Pass On To P&Z”) mentioned the Board of Selectman accepting the results of the ballot question from referendum ballot in November as a recommendation to add a residential option to the FFH Master Plan.
This is despite the fact that surveys over the years past have been overwhelmingly against a residential component at Fairfield Hills. So why would this vote in November suddenly favor housing? Because the question on the ballot was quite misleading.
The ballot question asked if “the Town should consider commercial proposals at the Fairfield Hills campus that include a housing component…” If you didn’t attend or know about any of the meetings that the First Selectmen held, this question would lead you to believe that there would be some type of retail type development with a few apartments above it. This does not appear to be the case from interested developers at all. The two developers that spoke at the Dan Rosenthal’s last meeting both seemed shocked when questioned about what type of commercial component their proposals would include. That is not in their model at all. They want high density rental properties that get paid for through grants essentially making them high profit, low risk projects for them. Which makes me concerned that they don’t really care how the development of these buildings affects FFH.
I feel that the question to the public should have effectively mirrored the vision that these two interested developers have in mind. Maybe the question should have been “Should the town consider residential proposals at the Fairfield Hills Campus that include the development of up to 165 apartments in no more than two of the buildings, with no commercial component, and no designated parking areas?” I would guarantee that this question would have been rejected in a vote. While the public may have thought some retail with limited apartments may be a good idea, I think most would have opposed adding over 300 residents (and cars) on campus. That kind of density will effectively turn the campus into their apartment complex.
By twisting the question, the Board of Selectmen effectively took the decision away from the public as to what happens. The doors are now open for the Board of Selectmen to decide on any proposal from a developer, and the town residents have no say in the matter. Sure, we can attend the Board of Selectmen meetings and share our opinions, but there is no vote from the public on any formal proposals.
Basically, Planning and Zoning should not accept this recommendation until there is a more detailed question presented to the public, and a more detailed recommendation made to Planning and Zoning.
10 Timber Lane, Newtown January 1, 2021