Letters

Letters from Concerned Citizens

Over the years Simsbury residents have written many dozens of letters to our elected and appointed officials as well as spoken at public hearings to voice their concerns about numerous land use issues.

Please feel free to send copies of your letters to SHARE at ShareSimsbury@gmail.com along with whether or not you would like it published here on our web site.

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PAD Committee Comments - May 14, 2009

J. Lucker, Simsbury

As we all know, the effort to create some form of mixed use Planned Area Development  zone has been a lengthy process.  It seems useful for our town to provide land owners, developers and residents with a new option to develop property that provides the opportunity to blend a mix of forms and usage within a parcel.

However, I and other residents have repeatedly expressed concern and have, in fact, insisted that any PAD language be appropriately detailed and comprehensive so as to protect all relevant parties, constituents and areas of concern.  On April 10th 2008 at a very emotional meeting, I spoke to the Zoning Commission on this topic and at the risk of being redundant, I will repeat some of my previous comments in this forum.

To me this entire PAD issue is about what the people of our town want.  It’s about what the people of our town need.  It’s about developing our town while maintaining its unique character, its livability, its safety, its tranquility, its environmental sanctity, and it’s about developing the few remaining parcels of open space and developable land so that Positive Net Economic Benefit gets generated for our town to as near an optimal level as possible.  It is also about redeveloping or expanding existing properties in a desirable manner.  These are some of the things specified in the Simsbury Plan of Conservation and Development.  And I believe that any PAD being drafted or considered should be in compliance with the POCD.

We should not adopt PAD regulations to pave our town over.  We should not create a PAD that might improperly apply to the whole town.  We should not settle for a PAD that would destroy environmentally sensitive areas of our town and that would congest our traffic arteries to a choking point.  We should not settle for just anything just to get it done.  We should not surrender to the urge to move on and just relent to pressures because we are tired of the discussion, because we feel the pinch for tax revenues, or because some developer comes knocking with a plan that provides something but perhaps not the best something.

So as this group works through the details of a potential PAD regulation, please be sure to focus on all aspects of issues that matter in developments that might fit a PAD.  Without providing you an exhaustive list of issues, things like traffic impact, environmental impact, net economic benefit and fiscal effect, impact on neighboring properties and neighbors, wetlands, design and architectural details, lighting and numerous other issues must be considered.

Lastly, as some of you know, there has been heightened attention on the topic of ethics and ethics rules and regulations in our town.  As a result, I think it is essential that before this group begins its work, that each member assesses if his or her participation would be compliant with Simsbury’s Code of Ethics.  Recently the Board of Ethics proposed, and the Simsbury Board of Selectman approved, revisions to the Simsbury Code of Ethics.  I think it is important that each member of this subcommittee evaluate the Code of Ethics to see if you personally, an organization you have a financial interest in, or a family member have a financial interest in the work product of this subcommittee.  Consideration of these rules should include questions like do you, a family member, or a firm you or a family member have a financial interest in, own property that might directly or indirectly benefit from a PAD?  Do you, or a firm you or a family member have a financial interest in, have an active client who might benefit from a PAD?  The key here is to determine if there is an actual conflict or an appearance of a conflict of interest based on activities resulting from this PAD subcommittee.  Based on this determination, a public written disclosure may be required and an evaluation of the appropriateness of your participation should take place.  So as to avoid any recurrence of the issues that happened during a previous and recent land use process, as a concerned resident, I ask that you think through these Code of Ethics rules and issues if you haven’t already.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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April 9, 2010 - Multiple Form Letters Sent

Dear Chairman Gallagher:

As a resident and concerned citizen of Simsbury, I am opposed to the current draft, including the March 30, 2010 revised version, of the PAD regulation.  I very strongly want any PAD zoning regulation that is drafted and adopted by the Simsbury Zoning Commission to have detailed metrics and specificity in the regulation language.  The current draft is void of metrics and standards which are necessary components of properly drafted regulations.  I fear that if this Draft PAD is approved as a zoning regulation, it has the potential to allow inappropriate development, as well as costly litigation, in Simsbury.  Numerous residents, the PAD Sub-Committee Minority Report and the Design Review Board’s position offer concrete ideas and suggestions to improve upon the existing Draft PAD.  Please consider this thoughtfully and be willing to incorporate metrics and standards before passing this regulation.

Respectfully yours,

J. Gill, S. Skolnick, J. Trainer

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Zoning Commission Speech - February 9, 2009

J. Lucker, Simsbury

Tonight is your lucky night because I am going to be uncharacteristically brief.

I wanted to speak to you as the current President of SHARE and as a member of the SHARE Steering Committee which represents approximately 3600 town residents with a common view that Simsbury should expand and develop but it should do so responsibly, methodically and collaboratively in a transparent and collegial fashion.

Tonight my comments are simple.

SHARE supports the Continuing Care Retirement Community or CCRC zoning text amendment language as written and presented here tonight including the 5 year window for the developer to complete the work and the potential for another 5 year extension for a total of 10 years.  We recognize that the requirements for state funding for such CCRC developments are complex and require the developer to have significant pre-development sales commitments, all of which take time and effort to complete.

We believe that a CCRC is an extremely desirable development type for Simsbury and can be beneficial to the town with significant positive contributions as long as the Town works with the developer through the necessary planning, design, development, legal and advisory and zoning enforcement regulations all with contributions from stakeholders in the community.

We believe that when all of this is done openly and reflects the principals and objectives of the Plan of Conservation and Development, a CCRC can be a natural Win-Win for Simsbury.

Thank you.

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Zoning Commission Speech - July 7, 2008

J.  Lucker, Simsbury

Good evening.  Tonight I stand before you as a very concerned citizen.

Primarily my concerns about this application stem from several factors.

First of all, I am concerned that once again we are gathered here to assess a submitted zoning text amendment that was drafted by a self-interested developer to serve his own proposed project purpose while the applied for modifications to Simsbury’s zoning regulations would impact our entire town.

Secondly, I am concerned that there are various parties who have written letters to you, or have or may speak before you tonight and other nights, who are expressing their opinions about the desirability of Dorset Crossing but are not considering that this is about changing zoning regulations and not if Dorset Crossing would be nice for the town.  I have no opinion about Dorset Crossing at this time other than as it has been described it seems to have reasonable scale and may fit the language of the POCD.  But the most significant issue before you tonight is not the specifics of Dorset Crossing but rather if our zoning regulations should be modified to accommodate the applicant at the potential expense or benefit of other landowners.

I strongly feel that Keystone should wait until the Town writes a mixed-use zoning regulation that will inclusively protect the residents as homeowners, protect other landowners, and protect the town from inconsistent and unintended development.  By waiting, the Dorset Crossing developer can develop their mixed-use development in an appropriately designed mixed-use zone.

In this light, I wanted to point out some of the flaws and issues that I see with the submitted zoning text amendment.

1.     I believe the proposed language jeopardizes the integrity of Simsbury's "use-based" zoning regulations.  The language would allow Residential in a Business zone anywhere in town.

2.     I believe the proposed language would also create a legal precedent to allow the corollary to be built – that is to build Business in a Residential zone.

3.     I believe the proposed language is highly non-specific and does not establish site specific requirements which a mixed use regulation would do when created within a public planning charette.

4.     I believe the proposed language does not regulate the density of development nor the number of buildings on any site zoned or rezoned to this business zone.

5.     I believe the proposed language establishes a footprint size cap of 25,000 square feet with up to 3 floors for a total of 75,000 square feet per individual building and there can be multiple such buildings on a single site.   Not only is this a very large building but it could be a very large development and is inconsistent with the Plan of Conservation and Development.

6.     During the POCD finalization and the River Oaks process, there was much discussion about how size caps could, if not crafted carefully, render an existing structure non-conforming.  I believe the proposed language’s 25,000 square foot cap with three floors in this type of zone could make several properties in town non-conforming.  Where is all the comment about these prescribed caps and metrics from some of the members of the Planning Commission and the Chamber of Commerce and the Simsbury EDC who previously opposed the concept of size caps?

7.     The proposed language does not require the applied for mix of uses to actually be built nor are there any percentages of mixed use specified.

8.     The proposed language does not require net economic impact studies or other necessary evaluations to allow our land use boards to best assess this or any future proposal anywhere in town.

9.     The proposed language allows for the development of the Northern Gateway without studying the total traffic impact on Route 10 and the impact on the Town Center.  I believe that without such required studies, it is possible that this can create a first come, first served model where the first development to be built can take traffic capacity away from other landowners based on the fixed capacity of Route 10.  Without the Simsbury Route 10 charette and the creation of comprehensive mixed use zoning regulations, this proposed language obviates other property owner’s rights.

10.  As an example of how interconnected this all is without careful study and regulation writing, what if Hoffman’s gets a B3 and this proposed language is approved, would Best Buy be non-compliant based on its size?  And what if Simsbury Commons wanted to redevelop to a B3 Designed Development District?  Under this proposed language the square footage cap wouldn’t let them do that even if it made ‘Smart Growth’ sense.  And what about Andy’s and Fitzgeralds?  Both of those are over 25,000 square feet I believe.

Finally, if our town is going to progress and become more smart growth oriented using our new form based POCD, we must draft new form based zoning regulations to allow mixed use.  However the Town must be the one to do this through a professionally facilitated charette process and not via some developer who wants to get what they want on their property but isn’t interested in the impact of their proposal on other areas of town.

I believe this proposed zoning text amendment is flawed and must be rejected.  Please tell Keystone to hold on until the Town creates its own language through the Charette process.  Keystone can be an active participant in this process along with residents, business groups, and other property owners.

Thank you for your consideration of my views.

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Board of Selectman Speech - May 12, 2008

J. Lucker, Simsbury

Good Evening.  I am speaking to you tonight as a member of SHARE, Simsbury Homeowners Advocating Responsible Expansion.

On April 21st the Simsbury Zoning Commission voted unanimously to deny the application by Konover Development Corporation for a zoning text amendment for a Planned Development District (PDD) that would have allowed a mixed-use development such as River Oaks to be built anywhere in Simsbury.  We thank the over 500 residents who attended this public hearing and the over 350 residents who recently wrote letters and emailed the zoning commissioners opposing the Konover PDD, River Oaks and Big Box stores.  This is in addition to the hundreds of additional residents who have attended zoning commission meetings and written letters and emails to the newspapers and town officials opposing Big Box development in Simsbury over the past two years.  We applaud the Zoning Commission's vote as the only reasonable and responsible decision for this particular application.

So what's the next step for Simsbury?  We believe that mixed-use development may be appropriate in certain areas of town to enhance the overall character of Simsbury and to provide desired tax revenues with accompanying net economic benefit if development is built in scale and in harmony with the surrounding areas, if it complies with the 2007 Simsbury Plan of Conservation and Development and if it adheres to smart growth principles.

Obviously a one-size-fits-all PDD is not the right answer for Simsbury as each site has its own unique characteristics in terms of natural resources, architectural and historic landmarks, patterns of daily use, traffic impact, and the like.  Additionally, a PDD is a very complex legislative regulation that needs to be done carefully and with the optimal level of input from residents, land owners and elected officials facilitated by expert planning consultants and vetted by special land use counsel.

It is clear that the only way to achieve a mixed-use PDD regulation in the most cost effective and expeditious manner for the three major developable sites along Route 10, the Northern Gateway, the Town Center and the Southern Gateway, is to initiate a public planning charrette facilitated by a nationally recognized firm such as Dover Kohl and assisted by Special Land Use Counsel such as provided to the town in the past by Attorney Dwight Merriam of Robinson and Cole.

The attendance at the various public hearings over the past two years by hundreds of residents, from all parts of town, is certainly indicative of the level of broad public interest in land use issues in Simsbury.  It is time for you, our elected Board of Selectman to acknowledge and embrace the residents' desire to be an active participant in land use planning and to now take the necessary steps to initiate the charrette process for all three areas along Route 10.

In the past some elected officials have voiced opposition to the charrette, stating that the charrette will be ineffective because the land owners are not willing to participate in the process.  That is not the case in the Northern Gateway and the Southern Gateway.  Landowners of both Gateways have said that they will be active participants in the charrette.  In fact Mr. Mark Greenberg, the landowner of the Southern Gateway, told SHARE and a recent Zoning Commission meeting that he believes the only way to come to a consensus is to work collaboratively with the town and the residents through a charrette process to develop something that works for everyone and that he and the town can be proud of.

The other major objection to the charrette from some elected officials is the cost.  Currently there is no definite known cost for a charrette.  The dollar amount of $300,000 to $500,000 has been tossed around but we will not know for certain until the Board of Selectman puts the charrette out to bid via a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.  There are other means of funding the charrette through state and federal grants, private foundations and private donors; in fact the Town of Suffield received $900,000 in grant money for a charrette done there in 2001.  Some of our officials have wisely said that a charette also produces results which serve to avoid litigation.  And they have said that it can serve as a proactive marketing tool that brings appropriate and desirable development sooner than might happen otherwise.  From our perspective, missed or delayed economic development opportunities would likely be more costly to the town than the actual fees required to perform a charrette.  It is widely documented that a charette generates a very high return on investment when done correctly.

There has been some discussion about "compromising" on the charrette initiative proposed for the three major sites on Route 10 by having a mini charrette focus solely on the Town Center.  We believe this is extremely short sighted.  While the Town Center is the heart of the town, the Northern and Southern Gateways have been identified in the Plan of Conservation and Development as significant opportunities for mixed-use development.  All three sites are linked by the Route 10 corridor and it is critical to include a traffic analysis to determine the symbiosis among all three sites in order to maintain Route 10 as a two lane road.  There are clearly complex relationships, synergies, and potential conflicts between any development on the three sites and for that reason it is essential that the three sites be studied together.  That was the advice of Victor Dover, the nationally recognized land planner from Dover Kohl.

By doing a charrette for all three sites together, significant economies of scale will be realized, duplicative activities will be eliminated, redundant consultant travel and expenses will be avoided, and town officials and resident’s time would be optimized if a charrette for all three sites is done simultaneously.

We hereby strongly urge the Board of Selectman to put aside any political agendas and to do what is right for the town: vote to approve the charrette initiative for all three sites on Route 10 - the Northern Gateway, the Town Center and the Southern Gateway and to immediately begin an RFP process for expert planning consultants as well as re-engage the Special Counsel from Robinson and Cole to assist in the charrette process while lining up the funding necessary to do the charrette for all three sites.  In developing these last three major areas, we have only one chance to "get it right" and this is it!

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May 4, 2008 - Multiple Form Letters Sent to Mary Glassman, First Selectman

Dear First Selectman Glassman:

I support the Complete Charrette Initiative! As a resident and concerned citizen of Simsbury, I believe that the Town should have a development charrette for the Northern Gateway, the Town Center, and  

the Southern Gateway sites.  I would like to see the charrette performed simultaneously for all three sites to ensure a thorough and efficient evaluation of the ways in which these properties could best be developed.  Please vote to approve the three site charrette so that a collaborative process involving all interested parties can take place at the same time.

Sincerely,

B. Smith, S. Knall, G. & J. Langdell, D. Cinti, L. Berke, M. DeMaria, L. & S. Towles, D. Swenson, R. & N. Kiel, L. & S. Swenson, R. Wheeler, G. Banks, C. Eck, B. & P. Bialaski, R. Wheeler, C. Couch, R. Knapp, T. & J. Wasserman, B. & L. Picarello, S. & T. McGee

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Zoning Commission Speech - April 10, 2008

Good Evening

J. Lucker, Simsbury

To me this entire PDD and the related issues are about what the people of our town want.  It’s about what the people of our town need.  It’s about developing our town while maintaining its unique character, its livability, its safety, its tranquility, its environmental sanctity, and it’s about developing the few remaining parcels of open space and developable land so that Positive Net Economic Benefit gets generated for our town to as near an optimal level as possible.  These are some of the things specified in the recently approved Simsbury Plan of Conservation and Development.  And I believe that any PDD being drafted or considered should be in compliance with the new Town Plan.

We should not adopt PDD regulations to pave our town over.  We should not settle for a PDD that applies to the whole town.  We should not settle for a PDD that would destroy environmentally sensitive areas of our town and that would congest our traffic arteries to a choking point.  We should not settle for just anything just to get it done.  We should not surrender to the urge to move on and just relent to pressures because we are tired of the discussion, because we feel the pinch for tax revenues, or because some developer comes knocking with a plan that provides something but perhaps not the best something.

My parents taught me that the best results take time.  But my parents also taught me the pragmatism that sometimes 80% of something is better than 100% of nothing.  So I do not think that perfection is the goal.  But that 80% needs to be very good before proceeding.

However, this PDD Zoning Text Amendment submitted by Konover, is in my opinion, woefully incomplete, woefully imprecise, woefully improper for what it intends to accomplish, and quite frankly is woefully sloppy in its design and construct.

For goodness sakes, on pages 3, 4, and 11 this Konover PDD has parenthetical and contemporaneous comments in it reminding the drafter to make revisions or add additional detail or specificity that isn’t in the document.  We can’t approve a document that has comments to the drafter in it!  We all need to remember that this submitted document isn’t supposed to be some work in progress.  This submitted document is supposed to be the final version.  This submitted document is to be voted on by the Zoning Commission as an actual piece of legislation – they need to vote Yeah or Neah on this submitted text.

The Zoning Commission can make minor, non-substantive adjustments to the submitted text.  But most anything non-substantive requires a rejection of the submission.  It seems to me that with all these obvious errors, problems, and deficiencies in the submitted Konover PDD, any changes would be nothing but substantive and require a rejection.

Lastly, I’m not alone in my feelings about all this.  On Monday around 3 PM one of my neighbors went down to Town Hall to review the letters and emails that the Zoning Commission has received just in the past few weeks about the Konover PDD.  Again, these were just letters and emails about the Konover PDD which are kept in a red binder in the Planning Department.  I assume all the Zoning Commissioners have read through this binder that Hiram Peck has in his office but if you haven’t, you should look through it before you cast your vote on the Konover PDD.

My neighbor counted the letters and emails that were both FOR and AGAINST the Konover PDD.  She excluded those residents from Avon or other towns and she excluded obvious duplicate submissions.  She also included each resident signing the letter or email so that one document with both names from a couple, i.e. a wife and husband, were counted as two.  The results of her count were 12 people in FAVOR of the Konover PDD and 369 people AGAINST the Konover PDD.  97% of the people who sent an email or letter as of 3 PM Monday on the Konover PDD, OPPOSED the Konover PDD.  That is a very significant statistic and speaks loudly about resident’s opinions about the Konover PDD.

I was one of those emails that oppose this PDD Zoning Text Amendment and I too urge the Zoning Commission to not approve the Konover PDD Zoning Text Amendment.

Thank you for your time and attention.

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April 3, 2008

Dear Mary Glassman,

As a resident of Simsbury for 44 years,and a VERY concerned citizen of Simsbury, I am opposed to the form and language in the Konover Development PDD Zoning Text Amendment.  

I just can't believe that you can really believe that we need more shopping, more stores, and more residences here.   Have you been to the Glastonbury big box they built a few years ago?   Stores are closing, profits are way down for the stores and it will be a short matter of time before there will be big FOR LEASE signs everywhere.   If you haven't been to Glastonbury, maybe you have been to Canton?   Same thing.  Go there and walk into any of the stores M-F from 10-4 p.m. and ask them how business is.    They will tell you "not so good".   So why would we need the same thing less than 10 miles away?   If I need to shop I can go to Canton or Manchester or Glastonbury or West Hartford.    If I need Walmart I go to Avon.  Target is in Windsor.   One last example is the new West Hartford Blue Back Square.   Big ugly parking lot, nice shops and seriously minimul shoppers.   I have a friend who lives there and she assures me there has been NO impact to her taxes and she feels sick everytime she sees that ugly parking lot which ruined the area.    The shops at most of these places are "so upscale" that the average person can't even afford to actually buy anything.     What I take from all this is that Canton, Glastonbury, and W. Harford have all "jumped on the hook" (i.e. fell for a lot of hogwash as my Mom used to say) of the fishing line of Konover or similar developers.  I bet if you asked the residents or the members of their zoning boards who voted in favor of it, they would tell you they wish they didn't.  

Yes, even with empty stores someone is paying them taxes but the town uniqueness and character (especially Canton) has been lost.   I don't want that for Simsbury.   My last comment is re: residences.   Do you know how many empty residences we have around?   How about Powder Forest or the place on the corner oF West Street and Hopmeadow?  There are plenty of residences to be purchased new or used.  The town is at it's capacity for residences.

The Konover PDD is not the kind of zoning regulation that would best serve the Town or the people of Simsbury.   Your job is to serve the town and its' people.   Not to serve individuals, influencers, attorneys, developers, engineers.    All you have to do is vote NO and tell them to head out to the next town to fish somewhere else.   In Simsbury the voice of the people is strong and we do NOT want this or NEED this here.   

Last night, both the Simsbury Design Review Board (DRB) and the Simsbury Planning Commission (PC) unanimously voted to recommend that the Zoning Commission deny the Konover PDD application (see attached documents).   Follow their lead!!

I strongly urge you to vote to DENY passage of the Konover PDD Zoning Text Amendment.   Please feel free to contact me to further discuss.

M. Tolan, Tariffville, CT

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November 28, 2007

Good Afternoon-

I'd like to draw your attention to the lead editorial in today's The Hartford Courant.  I've learned that whenever someone agrees with you, you always think they are both perceptive and intelligent.   The Courant's editorial is worth your time.

http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-mixedusenov28,0,6868002.story

Mark Branse,  a land use attorney from Glastonbury is quoted in the editorial as saying:

"[Branse]...said some proposals being put forward as mixed use actually aren't, and still segregate uses.He also said mixed-use projects have to be carefully planned. For example, if condominiums are built next to a shopping center with early-morning deliveries or dumpster pickups, there is a potential for discontent." [emphasis supplied]

I happen to be pro-intelligent growth and anti-River Oaks, as it was proposed by Konover.  Mr. Branse is correct in noting that some 'so-called' mix-used projects are simply misnomers.   In the instance of River Oaks, it is a gross misnomer to characterize it as a mixed use development.  Konover is obfuscating the fact that the would be 'community' is simply a big box retail development surrounded by smaller retail and town houses.  Branse is also right on the ball when he talks about the potential discontent when he refers to garbage pickup at 5:00 A.M. and the traffic Target will want to generate at all times in the week to fill their 1,400 parking spaces.  On SCTV I saw Mike Goman say that he would supply our EDC with a list of projects nationwide that are similar to River Oaks as he would have it.  There are none in New England, for good reason I might add.  I'd like to see that list as it would be the basis of towns in which I would not to live.

River Oaks is a 'pig in a poke' as designed and will be forever to the detriment of our lovely, residential community if it is ever built as Konover wishes.  It is my fervent hope that our new POCD will be adhered to and will act to concentrate retail development in our downtown and enhance our Simsbury as we know it.

I ask our town officials to work to keep Simsbury as the community it is.

B. Duguay, Simsbury, CT

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August 17, 2007

To the Editor of Simsbury Post:

Over the past year I’ve read dozens of letters in this space about the River Oaks project that Konover is pursuing for the 60-acre Connecticut Light and Power site.  The majority of writers expressed logical and heartfelt objections to the project but to be fair, a few endorsed Konover’s large-scale “mixed use” development, generally arguing it would fortify our grand list and add an estimated $4M in tax revenue - assuming that the entire project is built out as Konover has proposed it.  Not unimportantly, this $4M figure has yet to be substantiated by any credible, independent analysis of net economic impact to the town and its taxpaying residents.  A number of these endorsements have cited the need for additional shopping, seemingly convinced that the Route 44 corridor and the assorted malls and shops in nearby towns don’t offer adequate variety or capacity to satisfy our needs.  I ask: How much more capacity can a community sustain when it comes to the zero-sum game of competitive retail, especially the Big Box species?  Still others have commented that opponents to River Oaks such as SHARE are little more than Luddites “standing in the way of progress,” or sentimental NIMBY bumpkins who fail to realize that “times have changed.”  Indeed, times have changed, and I would argue that they haven’t always changed for the better.  Moreover, not all change is good, regardless of what vested private interests may argue.  The final arbiter of goodness will be the test of time.

Unlike some residents who claim Simsbury as their birthplace, or who are able to count several generations of forebears among those who settled the town, I’ve only been a resident of the valley for 25 years.  Most of those were spent in Farmington, a few in Avon and most recently, a mere three in the Weatogue section of Simsbury, just a few hundred yards from the southwest corner of the proposed River Oaks site.  I chose to live in Simsbury for its semi-rural New England character, not for the opportunity of having a latter-day version of the Berlin Turnpike erected in front of the iconic Heublein Tower.  With no disrespect intended toward the citizens of Newington, if I had wanted that, I’d have purchased a home on the Berlin Turnpike – not in Simsbury.  As most readers can probably guess, I’m less than enthused at the prospect of staring out upon the parking lot of a 140,000 square-foot Target store as I depart and return from work each day, nor am I eager for dramatic increases in traffic congestion that will necessarily accompany a development of this scale.  As one recent writer correctly stated, “routes 44, 185 and 10 are over the edge many hours of the day already” and even modest increases in volume will push them to virtual gridlock during morning and evening peaks and on weekends.  What would be the solution?  Perhaps a four or six-lane replica of the Berlin Turnpike running all the way up to Granby?  Konover’s people have already said as much.  Do not believe that it cannot or would not happen once this floodgate is opened. 

I have also attended all but a handful of the various town meetings and public hearings on the town’s PoD, PoCD, Konover’s PDD and the River Oaks project.  Of all the land use commissions grappling with this issue of so-called “new urbanism” and sprawl, a number of members of the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission appear to fully grasp the gravity of Konover’s proposals and how they would forever transform our town.  I was particularly impressed by Chairman John Loomis’ perceptive questions to the Konover team during the August 14 Planning Commission meeting when he challenged attorney T.J. Donahue to elaborate on the precise intent and meaning of several non-operational terms contained in Konover’s PDD; e.g., words such as “sufficient” and “merit.”  In the opinion of many residents who attended that meeting, none of Chairman Loomis’ questions were answered with “sufficient” clarity - if you detect the irony of this phrasing.  Regrettably, obfuscation and circumlocution seem to be the operative standards by which Konover’s plans are developed and communicated.  Be advised: the artful use of such imprecise qualifying language is seldom unintentional.

If Konover’s proposed “floating” PDD is adopted, it would effectively negate the need for any zoning regulations thereafter, perhaps even rendering obsolete the Zoning Commission as it is presently constituted.  As a consequence, the ~15% of undeveloped land in town would be essentially put out for auction to the highest bidder.  Developers like Konover would vie to commercialize the largest and best parcels first, but eventually would feed upon progressively smaller lots, regardless of present zoning.  Care to build a package store or a tattoo parlor next to an elementary school or a private residence?  As a developer, armed with the PDD as your land use instrument of choice, nightmarish possibilities such as these and others would be available to you, irrespective of the concerns and protests of adjacent property owners.  If you would like to see an extreme expression of this type of “non-zoning” land use policy played out in real life, take a trip to Houston and you’ll get an eyeful…and more.  Somewhat ironically, Konover’s president once lived in Houston, allegedly in a subdivision named River Oaks. A mere coincidence?  Perhaps, but perhaps not.  Quite frankly, it is almost beyond belief that our land use commissions are obligated to entertain such folly.  Simsbury must do better.  With enlightened leadership and land use commissioners who will act responsibly to preserve and protect our town’s unique and magnetic attributes, Simsbury can do better.

As our elected members of the Zoning Commission consider Konover’s PDD, and the River Oaks project that will surely follow if it is adopted, I urge them to reflect on the words of James Russell Lowell, written during a simpler and more honest time in our nation’s history:

“Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide, in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side.  Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight, and the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.”   

Approving and adopting Konover’s PDD will forever and irrevocably alter the character of our town by risking the types of unflattering commercial developments we see throughout the state today.  We all know where they are.  Drive by them and ask yourself, “Is this what Simsbury really needs?”  Despite purportedly comforting words by Konover’s project team, once we’ve turned down that one-way road, there will be no turning back. Alternatively,  rejecting the PDD will allow town officials and residents time to conduct a more deliberate and informed assessment of Simsbury’s land use policies, ideally by utilizing  the charrette process that many have been advocating, including Selectman John Romano, Simsbury Citizens First’s candidate for First Selectman. 

Absent a pressing need to make a questionable and irrevocable decision now - other than providing immediate satisfaction and financial advantage to Konover - rejecting the PDD seems the much wiser choice, and would help ensure that Simsbury’s unique qualities will be preserved for many generations to come. 

Let's hope they choose wisely.

J. Lilliquist, Weatogue, CT

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Comments on Draft CT State Ethics Regulations - State Ethics Commission Speech - July 19, 2007

J. Lucker, Simsbury, CT

I wanted to take the opportunity today to briefly speak to you about concerns and questions that I have after reading the draft advisory memo on the ‘Interpretation of General Statutes 1-82a(b) and 1-93a(b)”.

I am neither an attorney nor an ethicist but rather a citizen who has taken an interest in the improvement of ethics rules and regulations and how they are interpreted and applied to our elected and appointed officials on a state and municipal level.

I have read the draft memo carefully and have concerns that the language in the state statute and the advice in the draft memo does not adequately clarify some issues pertaining to the rules around prohibition of disclosure of the existence of a formal ethics complaint versus the substance and details of a formal ethics complaint.  I am particularly concerned with how such circumstances can prompt the ethics commission to dismiss a complaint without regard to the substance of the complaint solely based on the disclosure of the existence of a complaint.   I am also concerned that the state ethics rules and the manner in which they are interpreted and enforced may continue to operate in a manner that is significantly different from how civil and criminal law is managed and enforced and that the ethics rules may continue to favor the elected or appointed official at the potential expense of the right thing being done for society.

Let me be more specific.

If I were to have been pulled over by a police officer on the way to this meeting for an alleged speeding violation, that traffic stop is done in full sight of all who drive by.  Furthermore the fact that I was issued a ticket is a matter of public record.  Both the existence of the ticket and the circumstance of the alleged violation are public record.  Subsequent to the event I could go to court and have my case heard and could either have the ticket dismissed, reduced, or sustained.  All of those events and outcomes are a matter of public record.

Furthermore if I were to be served with a lawsuit for a civil matter, the existence of that case is public record.  Also, generally the specific details of the lawsuit are also public record.  The same holds true for most criminal matters.  Everyone has their day in court and the court proceedings and the outcome of the case are typically also public record.

So why is this all so different for ethics complaints?  Why is the existence of a complaint so substantive?  Why should the public knowledge of the existence of a complaint hold equal weight to the public knowledge of the details of a complaint and have the public knowledge of the existence of a complaint be grounds for dismissal of the complaint?  Is the public interest best served by not knowing if a complaint has been filed against a particular respondent?  How is the public knowledge of the existence of a complaint any different that the public knowing about a civil or criminal complaint against a person that is later dealt with by a proper legal process resulting in either a dismissal or a finding of innocence or guilt?

To be even more specific, let me provide you with a few hypothetical examples:

A novice citizen determines that an official has potentially committed an ethics violation.  That layperson consults with one or two friends, advisors, attorneys or whomever for advice on whether a violation appears to exist, how to frame and express the issues in question, and perhaps to help write the specific language of the complaint.  Again, this person is a layperson without legal training which is significant because the ethics laws are complex and often subtle as evidenced by the need for hearings like this one.  That layperson then files a complaint with the ethics commission.  Subsequent to that, one of the confidants of that person is approached by an aggressive reporter and discloses that a complaint has been filed in the matter.  Only the existence of the complaint is disclosed and not the substance or facts about the complaint are disclosed and an article appears in the newspaper reporting on the existence of the complaint.  If the ethics commission were to find out about this disclosure of the existence of the complaint, which they might see in the newspaper, would it be appropriate for the complaint to be summarily dismissed due to a violation of state ethics complaint confidentiality statutes?  In my opinion, the complaint should not be dismissed.

As another example, in a more sinister context, let’s suppose a complaint was filed and the respondent is notified of the complaint.  In this example, the respondent knows that public knowledge of the existence of a complaint is a violation of the confidentiality rules, so he or she secretly leaks the fact to someone or to the press that a complaint exists but doesn’t disclose the specific details or substance of the complaint.  Would this too be grounds for dismissal of the complaint due to a violation of the confidentiality statutes?  Is it fair that a complainant could architect the dismissal of the complaint against them just by having the mere fact that a complaint exists be known by the public?

For last example, let’s suppose that a citizen concludes that an ethics issue may have taken place by piecing together facts and information that are all in the public domain.  For example, a citizen reads public minutes from some meetings, searches for some information publicly available on the internet, etc. and concludes that there may be a problem.  Let’s also suppose that the citizen raises these issues through public channels by speaking at a public board or commission meeting and the fact that the citizen has concerns and the substance of the concerns becomes publicly known through his or her speaking.  Let’s then assume that proper action isn’t taken by the board or commission and the citizen files a formal ethics complaint.  Then let’s suppose that through whatever means or method it becomes publicly known that an ethics complaint exists but the specific details of the actual complaint are not known.  However, the reality known only to the ethics commission is that the details of the complaint are identical to the details of the issues publicly discussed at the board or commission meeting where the citizen spoke.  Would the fact that the existence of a complaint is publicly known but the details of the complaint are not but the formal complaint’s details happen to match the details of a matter previously publicly discussed be grounds for the dismissal of the complaint just by the mere public knowledge that a complaint exists?

I hope that you see from my examples that, at least to me, the issues pertaining to the accidental or deliberate disclosure of the existence of a complaint versus the disclosure of the content of a complaint are complex.  I do not believe that the draft advisory letter adequately addresses these complex distinctions nor do I believe that the drafters of the state statutes would expect ethics complaints to be dismissed in examples like I hypothetically outlined for you.  I believe that the way this draft memo interprets the rules creates an imbalance and places equal weight on the two circumstances of disclosure of the existence of a complaint versus disclosure of the content of a complaint.

I recognize the importance of maintaining integrity in the ethics complaint process.  I am confident that the creators of our state ethics rules and laws have been crafted to provide reasonable protection to an accused but not at the expense of the truth being exposed and not at the expense of justice being addressed.  I believe that the conclusions drawn in the draft memo allow for ethics complaints to be dismissed and injustices to be allowed based on innocent circumstance or architected by accused parties merely through the disclosure of the existence of a complaint.  I fail to see how the public’s interests are served by dismissing a complaint because the existence, rather than the substance, of it becomes known to the public.

I respectfully request that this board not approve this draft advisory memo unless further thought and clarification is made by considering the types of hypothetical examples I have outlined.  Or, if this memo is accepted at this time, I respectfully ask that another advisory memo be prepared and considered that will dive deeper into this issue about public knowledge of the existence of an ethics complaint versus the substance of an ethics complaint when the facts in a complaint are the same as what is already publicly known prior to a complaint.

Thank you for your consideration of my ideas and concerns.

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June 30, 2007

To the Editor of Simsbury Post:

Add my name to the list of Simsbury residents who oppose the River Oaks project. I have lived in Simsbury for nearly 24 years and have seen the effects of development, some good and some bad, on the town. Lately, the bad seems to have the edge. I have seen the loss of open space and a monumental increase in traffic on Hopmeadow Street, especially during the increasingly lengthy rush hours. It is not unusual to see traffic backed up from route 185 to my side street a mile away many mornings, a drive that can take 15 or 20 minutes. Do we really want to add several hundred cars into the mix?

I would suggest to anyone who thinks increasing development is always good for the town to take a look at the devastation visited on the Powder Forest in constructing the adult housing going up there. This formerly serene and luxurious area is now a "forest" in name only. Where once deer and turkey roamed, now the land has been clear cut and the undergrowth removed to the point where I doubt it can support much animal life at all.

Progress? Not in my view.

I would hope that the Town Planning Commission and other stewards of the Town are not unduly influenced by the money, lawyers and political clout which will undoubtedly be brought to bear by Konover. I see they have already instituted a series of full page ads in the Simsbury Post. I would suggest that all the talk about enhancing the quality of life in Simsbury and increasing the town tax revenue is less important to the developers than their financial bottom line. After the project is built and the developer is long gone, we will be left with the consequences of River Oaks for the rest of our lives. More people mean more cars, more traffic, more pollution, more demand for gasoline, electricity, water and town services. And more demand will undoubtedly result in higher costs down the road. Personally, I would rather pay a couple of hundred dollars more in taxes if it meant retaining the uniqueness and rural charm of the town.

We have something very special here in Simsbury and I would hope the residents would not want to lose that either through apathy or for a chance to have access to more shopping. Once the first big box comes to town, the precedent will have been set. Can other big retailers and chain restaurants be far behind? I would urge other residents to make their feelings known to town officials now.  Let's not let Simsbury become another nondescript, overdeveloped community that cares more about it taxes than the beauty and small town charm that attracted us here.

G. Berman, Simsbury, CT

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June 6, 2007

To: Linda Schofield, Simsbury, CT 06070

Dear Linda:

I am left speechless by the nightmare that the River Oaks project will create on Hopmeadow Street.  As the name implies, if this project is implemented, neither will Hopmeadow Street remain a “street” nor will it continue to be a “meadow”.  To plant a monstrous development of this kind at the southern gateway to this idyllic town would forever change the character of this town, its landscape and its beauty.  This will not be a town that would attract the kind of intellect, the talent, and the thought provoking citizens it has been able to attract so far.  And if so, our schools, the pride of Connecticut, will not have the shiny eyed kids that it has attracted so far and the reputation of our school system will forever be left behind in the dust and dirt created by this megaplex, called River Oaks.   

Now that Konover has finally submitted its application for the River Oaks development, we are getting that much closer to the eventual destruction of this idyllic town.  The following is an extract from a recent SHARE newsletter that I am sure you have perhaps already read; however, I'd like to reproduce it here for your benefit: 

  • Total square footage for the buildings on the development is nearly 1 million square feet!  Do you realize how big that is?  That’s the square footage of about 18 football fields!  That’s about 75% the size of Westfarms Mall!
  • The development still has a large component of Big Box.  We also note with interest the use of the word “proposed” several times when referencing the Target store or the Saint Francis Hospital facility.  Does it mean from the word “proposed” that Konover is taking a ‘build it and they will come’ approach to River Oaks?
  • The lot coverage is just shy of 70%.  That means that about 70% of every square inch of the site is covered with ‘impervious’ objects – buildings, pavement, sidewalks, etc.  That is way over the legal limit currently in Simsbury’s Zoning Regulations.  And that’s also a whole lot of water that isn’t going to sink into the ground during an average year when about 46 inches of rain falls in Simsbury.
  • The development will stretch for over a half mile along Route 10 with 6 entrances and exits – what a mess!
  • There will be 2,583 parking spaces.  What a traffic nightmare!  By comparison, Gillette Stadium where the New England Patriots play in Foxboro, Massachusetts has 14,000 parking spaces and seats 68,000 people.  That’s about 20% of the parking at Gillette Stadium!  And that’s a whole lot of dripping oil, antifreeze and other nasty stuff mixing with rainwater runoff and eventually draining into the Nod Brook Wildlife Management Area behind the development site which then drains directly into the Farmington River.
  • There will be 210 residences in the development which is a large new neighborhood all by itself.  How many children will enter Simsbury schools from 210 residences?
  • Do you notice how the press release completely ignores the concept of traffic?  Crime?  Environmental Impact?  Net Economic Impact?
  • Much analysis needs to take place to understand Konover’s claims about tax benefits of the development.  It’s important to understand that SHARE will be heavily focusing on Net Economic Impact and not just Tax or Fiscal Impact because Net Economic Impact tells the true and thorough broad story about the impact of such a development on our town.

The only hope we have left that Hopmeadow Street retains it idyllic character is by asking the town officials to stop and think the kind of legacy they would be leaving behind if they continue to support this ugly nightmare.  I ask that you tell the town officials involved in making the final decision that they let their conscience guide their decision; for if this project were to go through, it WILL forever change the character of this town and leave behind an ugly mark for generations and generations to come.

Yours truly Speechless in Simsbury,

A. Tantri

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June 6, 2007

Ms. Schofield and Mr. Herlihy:

I wanted to write a small email to you on how my family and I do not approve of this "thing" that Konover Development plans to put on Route 10.

Our little family was relocated to Connecticut 2 years ago from West Virginia.  I was born and raised in West Virginia, and when I first came to Connecticut, it was definitely a change for me.  We chose to move to Simsbury not only because of it's reputation for being a nice, clean area and having excellent schools (I have three children), but also because it reminded me a lot of my own hometown, and made me feel quite comfortable when we finally moved.

We live right across the street from Latimer Lane school, which, as you know, is a stone's throw from Route 10.  The very idea of putting such an aberration just behind my home isn't just distasteful, but it's horrifying.

We knew, before we moved here, that the taxes would be a little over ten times what we paid in West Virginia - both personal property (cars) and property taxes.  Our current home is slightly smaller than our old house, but we paid more than twice what we did in West Virginia.  But because of the area, we were more than willing to pay that price to live where and how we do.

Vienna, WV is another town that used to be like Simsbury.  Great schools, excellent homes, nice golf courses.  Many years ago, Vienna was viewed as the town "where the rich folks lived".  Then the small airport that had lived there left, and they built a mall - roughly the same size as this "thing" that's being proposed to the town here.  Because of that mall, all kinds of "big box" stuff moved in.  Route 14 is now considered to be one of the busiest - and most dangerous - stretches of road in the entire state of West Virginia.

To turn this quiet and clean town into Route 14 in West Virginia is horrifying to me.  I didn't want to live off of Route 14 when I was back in West Virginia, and I certainly don't want to live there now - no matter what the cost.  I would not be remiss in saying that, if this proposed project goes through, my husband and I have already talked seriously about moving - and not just out of the town, either, but completely out of the state.

To allow this abomination to widen our roads and take property from my neighbors will allow for more issues than you can possibly fathom.  And next to a school like Latimer Lane?  Latimer Lane is already a very busy street - you'll be adding to the already high number of traffic violations I see just by standing in my driveway.  I predict a significant increase in injuries to children as they're trying to cross the street just to go to school.  That's just the start of what will happen.  If you want to see what Simsbury will look like in 20 years, I urge you to take a trip to Parkersburg West Virginia, and see what this can do to a nice town. It all starts with this.  It may seems like a small thing, but believe me, you'll be opening Pandora's box.

M. Cole, Weatogue, CT

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Letter to Editor - Simsbury Post - June 2007

No River Oaks or Yes River Oaks?  No Big Box or Yes Big Box?  2 Lane Route 10 or 4 Lane Route 10?  Negative economics or positive economics?  These are critical questions for Simsbury.  But to me, these questions and the entire River Oaks issue also raise many ironies.

Simsbury’s website calls itself a ‘quintessential New England Community’.  Will we call Simsbury that if we allow a one million square foot mall to be built?  After the mall generates a massive traffic influx to town?  After the mall causes significant economic harm (if not devastation) to the small businesses in our town center?  After the mall generates inevitable crime (Canton’s mall generated about 700 police incidents last year)?  After the mall reduces home values in nearby neighborhoods?  Will we really enjoy net economic benefit and not the fiscal benefit that Konover talks about (there is a BIG difference between the two terms)?  Will people really buy $500,000+ homes next to a Target?  Those are some questions with embedded ironies.

Also ironic is that several of our elected officials have publicly stated that they have received many hundreds of letters from residents opposing Big Box retail in Simsbury.  SHARE has also submitted about 3000 residents’ names who signed a letter supporting a Simsbury zoning amendment capping the size of Big Box retail.  Yet some self-interested people and town political insiders, including a former Chairwoman of the Republican Town Committee who last week wrote a letter to the Simsbury Post supporting River Oaks, continue to say that opposition to Big Box is a minority rather than a huge majority.

Ironic still is that some of the very few vocal supporters of River Oaks and Big Box development in Simsbury seem to be part of a web of relationships that connect to the leadership of the town Republican or Democratic parties or to Konover Development.  Also curious to me is that several River Oaks and/or Big Box supporters are Prudential Realty realtors, attorney lobbyists and financial planners involved in development, and small business people who don’t have their businesses located in Simsbury.  Why are these people so vocal for something that so many thousands are against?

In 2005, Mrs. Jewel Gutman wrote a great article for the Connecticut Bar Journal about her family and career.  Mrs. Gutman wrote, albeit in a different context but I borrow her words and use them here, “[…] once a choice is made, you have to live with the consequences, no matter how long that may be or how difficult”.  In this context, River Oaks and Big Box retail will profoundly change Simsbury forever.  We’d better be sure we understand what River Oaks will do to our town because, as Mrs. Gutman also eloquently wrote (again in a different context), “few of us fully understand all the ramifications that a simple decision may cause”.

I encourage all of Simsbury to carefully study the facts about the impacts of Big Box development because, ironically, Berlin and Manchester were once quintessential New England towns too but now they are mostly where we go to shop.

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Board of Selectman Speech - January 8, 2007

J. Lucker, Simsbury

For your information, I will also be sending a copy of my comments tonight to the State of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Commission and to State Senator Herlihy and State Representative Schofield.  My desire is that for the following suggestions to also be implemented more uniformly across the state’s hundreds of towns and municipalities.

In the meantime, I would like to see Simsbury be a trend setter so I wanted to take some time tonight to provide you, our Simsbury Board of Selectman, with some suggestions which I believe are important to ensure a more streamlined town government, ensure a more open government, and provide our elected boards and commissions with an easier way to conduct business.

The information age is here and has been for some time.  Email has become the way most businesses and governments conduct large portions of its business.  Elected and appointed officials and the boards and commissions they serve consider email to be the standard, and often preferred, way in which they circulate information, coordinate activities, discuss offline issues, make preliminary decisions, share drafts of documents, discuss process, and hear feedback from citizens and other outside parties, etc.  Simsbury is no different and our town conducts an enormous amount of its business through the use of email.

However the State of Connecticut Freedom of Information laws require most of the categories of information being transmitted via email to be available for review and examination by the public upon request.  When FOI access requests are made to the Town of Simsbury, compliance with such requests can be cumbersome, labor intensive, and challenging to comply with in the required timeframes.

I believe a major reason why access to such information is difficult is that nearly all of our elected and appointed officials receive their email on personal home or business email addresses rather than Town of Simsbury email addresses.  As a result, emails created and transmitted to conduct the Town’s business are scattered all over ‘cyberspace’ on various computer servers, personal and business PC’s and the like.

Also, the information which is supposed to be available to citizens upon request is sometimes improperly or deliberately deleted, copied, backed up, or lost in varying ways that make the consistency of information difficult and minimizes the ability for the Town to conduct business in an open and collaborative fashion with the Public.  I have heard that there are some elected and appointed officials who have specifically requested that their preference is to not be contacted by the public using their personal or business email accounts.  However the public has the right to communicate with those officials through email in the same way they can communicate with other officials who do not have such preferences.  And besides, email is here to stay as an efficient and ubiquitous communication vehicle.

As a result of this background I would like to suggest the following:

One.  That the Town of Simsbury create an administrative rule that all staff, elected and appointed officials be issued Town email accounts that are part of the Town’s official IT infrastructure and conform with all of the Town’s backup, archival, and maintenance processes.

Two.  That the Town creates an administrative rule that all staff, elected and appointed officials be required to use their Town email accounts for all electronic communications.    These email addresses should be published and made available on the Town’s website and distributed to all outside parties with whom the Town conducts business.

Three.  That the Town creates an administrative rule with appropriate disciplinary components for non-compliance that requires all staff, elected and appointed officials to always use, without exception, their Town issued email accounts to conduct town business and for any and all formal and informal communications related to their activities as employees, elected, or appointed officials.  If for some reason such people receive an email on their personal or business email address, they should immediately forward that email to their Town email address and all subsequent replies or correspondence as a result of that misdirected email should be conducted from their Town email address.

Four.  That the Town creates a process whereby the public can be provided access to these communications in a more streamlined fashion through FOI requests and that the Town maintain electronic archives of all such emails for a legally appropriate period of time in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.  In this fashion the Town will be able to efficiently and inexpensively comply with requests from the Public for access to public information under the state’s FOI rules and laws.

I’m sure that there are other details that the Town’s IT professionals and the Board of Selectman will need to address that I have not thought of but these comments are, I believe, the salient points of my suggestion.

I believe the implementation of these suggestions will help Simsbury have a more open government and allow the residents of our town to have more timely and comprehensive access to the hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of email communications being circulated each week throughout our town’s governmental process as The People’s business is conducted for and on our behalf.  It is our right as citizens to be aware of many of these communications and it is the law for such communications to be made available upon request.  By implementing these and other ‘open government’ rules and processes, Town business can be more accessible to the residents of Simsbury.

Thank you for your consideration of my suggestions.

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December 29, 2006

Dear Mr. Loomis,

I was very disappointed in the outcome of your December 28 meeting, as I assume you were as well.  It surprised me that the meeting continued at all after the town attorney stated that in his opinion there was no violation of an FOIA and it was his opinion that the Commission should not rescind or overturn the actions taken on December 19.

I wish that the Commission would allow the public to speak occasionally, because I was bursting to comment when Chip Houlihan repeatedly said that the reason he does not want metrics in the language for the Southern Gateway  was because the people of the Planning Commission members are “not experts”.  He went on to say that he trusts the other commissions who have more expertise.  Emil Dahlquist is an expert.  Emil Dahlquist is the head of the Design Review Board.  Emil Dahlquist is an architect.  Emil Dahlquist has been working with the Planning Commission on this very topic for a long time.  Emil Dahlquist was  very eloquent and very assertive in the December 19 meeting when he suggested over and over again to the Planning Commission that going with metrics in the Special Areas of the Plan was the way to go.  Emil Dahlquist has done extensive research.  He has consulted with other colleagues who agree with him—particularly, as I recall on the need for 300 feet for the greenbelt.  Unfortunately, Chip Houlihan was not at the December 19 meeting to hear Emil speak.  I propose you assign Chip to read and study the minutes of that meeting.

It is a shame that the meeting of December 28 was called at all, particularly on the flimsy pretense that it was concerning a FOIA complaint.  It is a shame that the Commission ignored the opinion of our town attorney who made it clear that the actions of December 19 should not be rescinded or overturned.   It is a shame that the Plan, once again, will not make its deadline.  But the biggest shame of all is that those metrics are now again out of the Plan.  I hope you can get them back in—they belong in there—you know it, I know it, and Emil Dahlquist knows it. 

Sincerely,

Janet Miller

CC: Susan M. Bednarcyk, Carol A. Cole, Fergusen Jansen, Charles D. Houlihan, Ernest Gardow, Mark S. Drake, Bradford Mead, Gregory Piecuch

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As read at the Thursday November 30, 2006 public hearing before the Planning Commission regarding the Draft Plan of Conservation and Development

J. Lucker, Simsbury

On Monday night I spoke to you about metrics and how I and many like me want metrics to be heavily present in the Plan of Conservation and Development.  I want the POCD to contain specific metrics about a variety of critical planning, development, and conservation components.  I spoke specifically about the metrics related to the transect sections of the POCD and how important I feel it is to have benchmarks to aim towards – benchmarks like lot coverage, building height, general density, retail density, square footage caps, lighting standards, environment impacts, drainage standards, traffic standards, etc.

While these metrics help provide a grounding for many of the visions and concepts articulated in the plan, not all aspects of the plan can, at this time, be adequately captured in metrics.  However, if the Planning Commission does not articulate its clear and concise vision, it leaves all aspects of the implementation to other commissions.  And in most cases the implementation of that vision will be left to the Zoning Commission. Personally I have a great deal of difficulty feeling comfortable with the Zoning Commission being the nearly sole determiner of what is best for our town as the implementer of the development aspects of the POCD and how the POCD gets interpreted and implemented.  Lately, I do not get the feeling that the Zoning Commission feels as compelled to listen to the people and consider their opinions and wishes as I think an elected and representative government body should.

This brings me to how I think Democracy is supposed to work.  You see, I believe strongly that our elected officials are the representatives of the people of Simsbury.  Our officials are elected by the majority of voters.  The word majority means more not less.  The voice of more should have more meaning than the voice of less.

On Monday I showed the Planning Commission a bag containing papers with over 2200 signatures from Simsbury residents endorsing a retailsquare footage cap on development in Simsbury beyond Route 44.  Regardless of the precision of the language for this proposal that is now being debated, the important point I want to mention is that this number of signatures represents a desire and a view by Simsbury citizens to maintain our town with a certain character and a certain scale and form for future retail development.  This is in clear and direct contrast to some of the retail plans being discussed for Simsbury beyond Route 44… plans like Konover Development’s River Oaks.

With this in mind, on Monday, we heard from both the EDC and the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce with their feedback on the POCD.  We heard a variety of feedback.  But one thing bothered me most about their feedback.

As an example, I will discuss the Chamber of Commerce.  I hold here in my hand the current business member guide of the chamber.  After reviewing this guide, in my opinion, not only does the chamber not seem to represent a majority of businesses located in Simsbury and paying taxes in Simsbury, but I was struck by the number of chamber business members who aren’t professionally affiliated with Simsbury at all other than perhaps that they sell things to Simsbury residents from locations outside of Simsbury.  Interestingly Mr. Brian Keigan spoke as a representative of the chamber of commerce on the government affairs committee.  He spoke specifically against retail size caps as I recall.

While Mr. Keagan is a Simsbury resident and entitled to voice his views as such, he was not speaking the other nights as a resident but rather as a leader in the Simsbury chamber of commerce.  But Mr. Keagan works for MW Financial Group which is located in Farmington.  I feel very strongly that an employee of a firm located in Farmington who pays a couple of hundred dollars a year to join the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce should not have the opportunity to stand before you and all of us and tell you what should or shouldn’t be in the Simsbury Plan of Conservation and Development.  If that person wants to speak as a Simsbury resident, I’m OK with that.  But not as the Chamber of Commerce unless he represents a Simsbury business.

And it doesn’t end there.  Mr. Peter Pabich, the president of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce, spoke Wednesday night representing the Chamber of Commerce and according to the chamber directory his business is located in Westfield Massachusetts.

And several more members of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee spoke here tonight.  Of those, only one has a Simsbury business.  The other two have businesses in Avon.

Which gets me to the majority issue once again.  Does the Chamber of Commerce, even if all its members agreed with the chamber’s stated point of view on retail metrics in the POCD’s transect section, represent any form of tax payer majority?

The answer is no, it does not.

It represents at most 20% of the tax base of this town and even that number is highly overstated because as I went through this chamber directory, only about half of the members even have their businesses located in Simsbury and therefore pay commercial taxes in Simsbury.  I would be far more interested in what our main street type businesses think about these issues… but not as represented by the Main Street Partnership which has been infiltrated by self-serving leaders with professional interests that are likely contradictory to the interests of main street businesses, but rather an actual discussion with Mr. or Mrs. Business Owner out of the glare of politics and scrutiny.  You see, I’ve done that.  I’ve walked around our town and talked to small business owners.  And, as I’ve heard from residents with regards to their distaste for the prospects of large retail development in Simsbury, these small business owners also don’t want to see our town turned into the Berlin Turnpike.  They feel their very survival depends on that not happening.  They want the center of Simsbury to stay viable, relevant, vibrant, and to grow even more so.

If our town leaders haven’t done so, I encourage each and every one to start doing a whole lot more talking to the residents of our town and the small business owners throughout Simsbury to better understand their concerns.  While it’s easy to call a public meeting and expect people to stand up here and speak, it’s important to recognize that not everyone is comfortable, willing or able to make the time to do this.  So as representatives, it’s essential to return to the people and ask them their views.  This is what our US representatives do throughout the year… they return home and meet with their constituents.  And from those meetings they get a feel, either objectively or subjectively, for what the majority has to say.  Because it is that majority which not only is whom they are supposed to represent, but it is also that majority that will sustain their political careers.  Again… 80% of the taxes in this town come from residents… and in my experience and my view, the vast majority of those people expect our town to not turn into the Berlin Turnpike, Buckland Hills, or a new extension of Route 44.

I hope my statements here can help renew energy in our town government to spend more time listening to the people and then doing what the people want to be done.  Sometimes that means telling the minority, thanks for your opinion, but you don’t represent enough voices.  I believe the POCD must capture those majority views in language and in metrics.

Thank you for your consideration of my views.

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As read at the Monday November 27, 2006 public hearing before the Planning Commission regarding the Draft Plan of Conservation and Development

J. Lucker, Simsbury

Over the past one and a half years I have attended numerous Planning Commission meetings and have watched the commission consult with experts and solicit various opinions to create and finalize the Plan of Conservation and Development.  I have also obtained and read some of the academic materials that were discussed during the meetings.  I want to commend the Planning Commission for a job well done as they have created a document that is broad and deep and conveys numerous critical aspects for how Simsbury should develop into the future as well as how our wonderful town should preserve its unique character and life style.

One area of the document that I am particularly pleased with, and supportive of, is the Future By Design section that introduces to Simsbury the concepts of Form Based Design and Form Categories known as Transects.  To me, the transect concept is a much clearer and more definitive design and zone structure which embodies the desire for Simsbury to maintain its special personality by providing a smoother transition between different land uses, building types, development density, traffic flow, and the like.  Transects help to eliminate the flaws in the previous Use Based Zoning where transitions between one property to the next can be startling and can seem like one has fallen off of a cliff.  We see some negative examples of this prior use based zoning throughout Simsbury and throughout the Farmington Valley where less dense usage very suddenly transitions to extremely dense uses like high volume retail.

Another aspect of the POCD’s transect language that I am wildly in favor of is the inclusion of specific metrics and caps for crucial form and design based elements like lot coverage, building height, general density and retail density, square footage caps for retail, etc.

I also strongly endorse the concept of deep roadside greenbelts particularly at those special development sites named in the POCD.  We must maintain our green spaces and we must maintain our scenic vistas.

I have heard and read about numerous protestations by members of the Zoning Commission and the Economic Development Commission with regards to having such quantitative limits specified in the POCD.  Their objections have focused mostly on retail square footage caps yet their comments about square footage caps seem more general.  They should read the POCD document carefully… pages 60 and 61 clearly speak only to retail square footage caps and not caps on other uses like office space.  Are these other commissions reading the same document I am?  I see no reason why anyone would object to something so obviously beneficial and intuitive as language on numeric limits for retail development in Simsbury.

However, we live in a world of numbers and laws and we as citizens of Simsbury feel more comfortable when we can quantify something that matters to us with specific boundaries, values, and metrics.  With such metrics, our town officials who must make the POCD come alive for real life scenarios like the mixed use developments being discussed by developers would have numeric boundaries to measure the proposals and evaluate their conformity with the POCD.  Frankly I don’t want downstream commissions like the Zoning Commission and the EDC to manage our town through ‘you know it when you see it’ thinking.  My main concern here is that I’m not convinced they will “know it when they see it”.  I believe such approaches may open the door for potential  improper conduct, influence, favoritism, and imbalance of treatment.  To me, numbers, metrics, values, benchmarks, and other discrete and clear ways to describe and evaluate land use are the only way to go.

I would like to make a suggestion to the Planning Commission.  I can see how critics may find the brief description of transects in the POCD inadequate for broad understanding and interpretation.  So I would like to suggest that the Planning Commission add more descriptive and explanatory prose to the transect section to be sure that the reader clearly understands the commission’s vision and intent for the application of transects.

Another suggestion is to remove the language in the Economic Development section of the POCD in Policy 3, Objective D where it is stated that the Board of Education should provide leadership in finding a solution to improving economic development.  Not only is it not the mission of the Board of Education to be involved with Economic Development, but personally I feel that given the professional pursuits of some members of the board of education, involvement in the town economic development activities are a natural conflict of interest.  Otherwise such members of the BOE would need to resign or recuse themselves from all such dialog and activities.

Lastly, to provide a more concrete view of the importance of numbers and metrics in the POCD, I want to briefly show the Planning Commission what I have in this bag.  In this bag are over 2200 signatures of town residents who expressed the desire to put a square footage size cap on all future retail development in Simsbury.  The number one reason people feel this way is TRAFFIC  people hate all of the traffic in our area!  The number two reason is that people want to preserve as much as possible the bucolic character of our town.

Over 80% of the people approached to sign this document were in favor of such size caps. By way of extrapolation, if all citizens were to vote on such an issue, the outcome would be very loud and very clear.

And Simsbury would not be alone with such concepts because size caps have been included in the POCD’s and zoning regulations all over America and in Connecticut towns like Bethel, East Hampton, Portland, Clinton, Granby, Guilford, Tolland, and others have included such language.

In short, people like metrics.  People want size caps.  They control a citizen’s expectations.

Thank you very much for your consideration of my thoughts.

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Speech at Board of Selectman Meeting

February 13, 2006

J. Lucker, Simsbury

As a citizen concerned with the way our town plans for the use of privately and publicly owned available land, I have learned a lot about the workings of our town and its government.  During my research I have become more aware of inevitable personal and professional interrelationships that exist between our elected and appointed town leaders.  For that reason I became interested in understanding the disclosed information publicly available on the Town of Simsbury Acknowledgement Forms for the Conflict of Interest disclosures for the Code of Ethics on file at town hall.

After reviewing these forms in October 2005, December 2005 after the swearing in of newly elected officials, and again in February 2006 I wanted to respectfully ask the First Selectman, the Board of Selectman, and the Board of Ethics to improve its enforcement and monitoring of the Code of Ethics regulations and Conflict of Interest disclosure form filings within our town.

I am aware of a number of elected and appointed officials who had not filed until recently the obligatory conflict of interest disclosure form despite having been in office for many months or in some cases, many years.  Since I have not done a detailed audit of the people who should have filed versus those who did file, there may be examples of people who still need to comply with the regulations.  There are also cases of elected or appointed officials who have not filed the obligatory refresh of the form as mandated in the regulations.  I am also aware of cases of known current and recent past personal and professional relationships among our town leaders with land and real estate developers which were not and / have not been disclosed on these forms.

It is mandatory that these Code of Ethics rules be followed carefully and that all elected and appointed officials do what they can to avoid any and all appearance of an undisclosed conflict.  It is not necessarily a bad thing to have a conflict but it is inappropriate to not publicly disclose it and then be involved in public or private discussion or vote on the issue.  Furthermore, without disclosure and the obligations resulting from that disclosure, a conflicted official can unfairly influence issues or events without the public understanding the motivations of the official.  In a small town like ours it is inevitable that conflicts will arise.  However for the good of our community and for the good of an open and honest government, it is essential that all of our town officials follow the Code of Ethics carefully.

Thank you for your time.

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Simsbury Commercial Development Discussion and Potential Residential Actions

August 14, 2005

The residents of our neighborhoods and others throughout the town have been played and misled by Town Officials, Local Politicians and by Developers.

Our efforts now should not just be focused on Blue Ridge Drive, Lincoln Lane and the immediate neighborhood roads and the proposed Zoning changes on the lots across from Blue Ridge and Lincoln. If we take that approach then it may be a waste of time as the local politics and momentum have already gotten this to be almost done under the radar.

We need to have our efforts become organized, make our efforts public and make this a personal issue for the Town and the Developer. This needs to be a Town issue and a discussion on the full package and not just be a Zoning and Planning meeting about a few lots. A referendum on the Five Year Town plan should not be ruled out as an option.

This is about the character and future direction of the Town. This is about a Big box store look being the new Southern entrance or welcome to Simsbury. This is about Hopmeadow Street from the Pettibone Tavern to the Avon Town line becoming Route 44 or the Berlin Turnpike. This is about the lack of full disclosure on all of the financials here and what effect this will have on taxpayers at the expense of the Town’s character. This is about whether Town Officials and Developers are making these decisions or whether it is the taxpayers. This is about who is gaining financially or politically here.

This is about destroying the neighborhoods and traffic patterns throughout the town. This is about the safety in these neighborhoods due to more cars and the speed at which they travel. This is about eliminating the small locally owned businesses throughout the town that have helped Simsbury develop its present character and look.

This is about full disclosure on the real total town costs and the net gain or loss that each taxpayer will pay in taxes. It is political smoke to say that either the first series of lots or the larger development will provide the tax revenue we need when it is not equated to what this means to each tax payer.

How much will this first or all of these developments lower each tax-payers burden? Is this a potential  increase in tax revenue that does not translate into any tax relief due to new costs or higher town budgets and staff elsewhere?

What will the towns cost be for developing and maintaining the four lanes of roads and the entire related infrastructure throughout the town?

How many new policemen will be needed to support any of the changes?

Will the existing Volunteer Fire and Ambulance groups be able to support expansion? Will we have to go to full time professional groups in their place and at what costs?

What other areas may have cost increases due to these large scale developments?

What is the cost in changing the town’s character?

How much tax revenue will be lost due to the home-owners property devaluation?

When the first shovel breaks ground we should make it known that the effected neighborhoods will immediately file a class action petition for property reevaluation and take potentially 10% off all of our property taxes. That should be the model and format as the development moves down Hopmeadow Street.

We should broaden our efforts to engage others across the town. We should make this very public and personal by engaging and backing local politicians who are not in favor of this plan. We should use the opportunity to put a focus on those who have engaged in these behind the scenes decisions without any public debate. We should concentrate our efforts and the public view on the elected and non-elected town officials, politicians, Economic Development groups and Developers. Elections are coming and we should back and fund candidates who do not share this Five year plan view.

In today’s world of Sarbanes Oxley, Ethical compliance, Connecticut government/Developer scandals and the New London Eminent Domain case, we should not be afraid to go there with what is happening here. This is all behind the scenes deals with Town Officials (Elected and Others) and Developers without full disclosure. This is about financial and political power gain for a few at the expense of the town. The Five year plan reads like it was written by Konover with Town Officials looking to broaden their powers at the expense of any future public debate.

We should talk to key players in Avon and obtain their thoughts on this as this has a major potential effect on their businesses. In that vein, we may have the opportunity to require a Regional Planning review since this Simsbury zoning change is so closely proximate to Avon.

If need be, we should highlight that the Town Officials and Economic Development groups have missed numerous good opportunities here since the failed Commercial development of an Insurance company property. One Insurance company expanded elsewhere (Avon) and Avon has had the type of Commercial Development on Route 10 and Nod Road that we should have been embracing. Instead it took Simsbury officials 5 years of behind the scenes work to come up with an unacceptable and secret plan.

Finally, most of the people in our local neighborhoods here are intelligent professionals, Executives or Management but we need to accept the fact that we are out of our league here. We should organize appropriately with professionals doing work that is needed and the rest of us acting in other capacities. We should use our organizational and management skills in conjunction with our capital and time (feet on the street) to act as one group. We should look at forming a small leadership group to coordinate and lead the effort and be the communications focus for the entire population but we should have knowledgeable professionals working against the Konover and Town professionals.

Chris and Peggy Rice

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August 19, 2005

Subject:          Big Box Development on Route 10

We oppose the possible development of a big box store within Simsbury.  It is our feeling that it would significantly affect the character and charm that Simsbury has to offer its residents. It will bring more traffic, create additional noise and increase pollution in our town.  Allowing the construction of one big box store may perpetuate a policy that would allow the construction of similar establishments in Simsbury.  The demographics that today consists of locally owned stores, shops and restaurants that have a dedicated sense of community would most certainly be put a risk. 

After becoming engaged in 1989 in addition to planning our wedding, we also started looking for a house to start our new lives together.  We felt very lucky and fortunate to have been able to find and afford our first house on Latimer Lane.  What attracted us to Simsbury in particular was its reputation of being an excellent place to start and raise a family. It offers an outstanding school system, parks, recreational facilities, and community activities within a beautiful rural setting. 

It did not take us long to feel at home after moving here in 1990. We enjoyed walking and riding our bikes through rural surroundings that existed in our neighborhood and on the town’s bike trails. Every year we make an effort to hike the Heublein Tower Trail to view the magnificent Farmington valley.  It would be a shame to have one of the most noticeable sights form Talcott Mountain be a big box store with its adjoining parking lots.  

Over the past 15 years many changes have happened in our life, we have expanded our family, have lost and found new jobs and moved to a different house on Blue Ridge Drive. Throughout these changes, which at times presented great opportunities, we decided that we really did not want to leave Simsbury due to the many things it has to offer.  The construction of a big box store would most definitely take away many of these things. 

A. Bitzer & R. Bitzer

Blue Ridge Drive

Simsbury, CT

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August 5, 2005

J. & M. Bailey, Simsbury

Subject:          Why A Big Box Development on Route 10 is Detrimental to Simsbury

In July of 1996 we moved into our house at 12 Lincoln Lane.  For 1½ years we looked at and evaluated various options throughout Farmington,Avon, and Simsbury before finally settling on this location.  Our selection of 12 Lincoln Lane was based on several factors: 

  1. Quality of life in a small town rural type setting
  2. Neighborhood environment and safety for our children
  3. High standard of education for our children
  4. Residential traffic patterns versus industrial/commercial traffic patterns
  5. Access to Hartford and surrounding services

At the time of our deciding on 12 Lincoln Lane as our home we made sacrifices in order to obtain the maximum value of the 5 points listed above.  We paid more money for a smaller house as compared to Farmington and Avon.  We knew the taxes were higher but felt it was worth it because of the quality of life, neighborhood, and safety for our children.  And most of all we knew that the growth in the town of Simsbury was always predicated on these issues for its residents.  In 1996 Simsbury was truly a family oriented bedroom community offering a high quality lifestyle, maintaining a historic commitment to its roots, and commanding a premium in taxes to sustain this.

The creation of a “Big Box” retail environment in the town of Simsbury is a slap in the face of every single resident.  Not only does it deter from the historic character of the town, it invites all of the negative elements that our town planners have worked hard to shield its residents from in the past.   In particular the neighborhoods abutting such a project will be directly impacted by its presence and all of the problems of high density traffic, safety, round the clock activity, and inconvenience of civil projects to the highways to accommodate such a development.

Permitting a “Big Box” retail environment undermines the many small businesses that have contributed to the success of Simsbury for years. The many “mom and pop shops” that have donated funds to causes ranging from PTA fund-raisers, supporting youth sports, promoting open space preservation, and forming the thread of community necessary to maintain a “small town atmosphere”.

We are certain our Town Development Leaders have many other options available that would be of equal or greater financial benefit to our town, that would be embraced by the residents, and that would maintain the essence of Simsbury and not turn it into a Buckland Mall area in the heart of the Farmington Valley.  It would be a travesty to endorse such type of development out of shortsighted desperation to raise the grand list.

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August 17, 2005

To Whom It May Concern:

Our family has lived in Simsbury since 1987.  We lived on Adams Road for 16 years and then moved over to Blue Ridge in 2003.  We chose this location because of the beauty of the area and the quiet, peaceful nature of the neighborhood.  We liked the convenience of being close to shopping without being located right “on top of it.”  That brings us to the reason for this letter.

Who needs a “big box” store in Simsbury?  What does it add to our town?  What will be the benefits versus the costs?  The increased traffic from customers, employees, and delivery trucks, crime, trash, light pollution, etc. are a price we are not willing to pay.  A “big box” store will only serve to diminish the special and unique character of our town…character that is disappearing in many of our neighboring communities…character that all residents have taken such price in. Is this what we want in our town? Especially, at the entrance welcoming all to Simsbury?

Why would Target, Lowes, Home Depot, or any other “big box” store have the desire to locate in Simsbury?  They must be under the impression that Route 10 will become another Route 44.  Let’s analyze the current locations of these retailers in our state…Berlin Turnpike inNew Britain, Buckland Hills Rd. in Manchester/South Windsor, Cottage Grove Rd. in Bloomfield, New Park Ave. in West Hartford, and many other similar examples.  Glastonbury has a Home Depot located in a commercial/retail zone adjacent to the highway.  How does Simsbury fit that demographic?  IT DOES NOT!

Yes, our taxes are very high and yes, the surrounding towns have lower taxes.  Will placing a retail complex on Route 10 and widening that road result in a more or less desirable place to live?  How will that impact our home values?  What will the town lose when our assessments are reduced?

We cherish the pastoral nature of Route 10, even as it continues to decrease year after year.  We also share in the belief that our town’s tax base needs to expand to lighten the burden on home owners.  We understand, and accept, the possibility that some development may occur on Route 10, but not of the nature currently being considered by the town, as proposed by Konover.  Avon has recently added a Residence Inn,Heathtrax, medical offices, and a bank on their portion of Route 10 leading into Simsbury.  Those types of businesses produce revenue for the town without draining valuable resources at the same time. 

The residents of Simsbury chose this town for many reasons…”big box” retailing was not among them.  Do not change the town of Simsbury to ANYTOWN, USA.

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

DM & LM, Weatogue, CT 06089

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Let's be very cautious about the insane proliferation of Big Box retailing into Simsbury.  There is no question that it's simply out of place and out of character.  With the excess shopping available in Canton, Avon and other not too distant points, there is no need for it and no net benefit to the town.  There is already a lot of overcapacity.  A responsible planning commission should look at the bigger picture and long-term impact.  This decision will have lasting effects on the community.  The Big Box building trend will someday unwind and end badly.  Sure, if one super store goes under another will take its place in today's market.  But when interest rates go up and consumers realize they are overleveraged - watch out!Simsbury could be left with an uneconomical mega store that becomes vacant. Consider how many neighborhood malls built in earlier decades have become all-but-abandoned commercial stripes.  It seems that shortsighted decision-makers with selfish motives are pushing this forward.  The drawbacks, let alone any impact 10 or 20 years out and beyond on the entire community, have not been fully considered.

The fact that residents are only learning about this deal now reeks of unethical behavior on the part of builders and town officials.

The current plans could forever destroy the fabric of Simsbury and the quality of life that we all enjoy.  The following rounds out our concerns: 

v     A Target, BJ's or Home Depot could never be made attractive enough to fit the character of our quaint New England town.

v     Additional tax revenue, if any, will certainly be marginal, as most revenue would be consumed with the additional public services - such as police and fire - required to support such a development.

v     We now have one of the lowest crime and auto insurance rates in the state.  How will that change with the traffic, increased rate of accidents and potential vandalism or theft with the influx of people and addition of several hundred-car lots?

v     Everybody's property values along Route 10 will be impacted immediately (surely decline), which would absolutely lead to a domino effect and overall weakening through much of Simsbury in due course.

v     A four lane Rte. 10 would dramatically increase noise pollution that would be heard deep into Simsbury.

v     Existing small businesses will simply be crushed by the buying and selling power of a huge retailer.  The uniqueness of life in town will disappear and be replaced by impersonal behemoths.  So much for the local hardware store where the shopkeeper knows you by name.

v     Run-off and pollution into the adjacent river could hurt leisure activities and wildlife.

v     Quality of life will change causing people to leave for other suburban destinations.  I cannot reconcile such a huge setback to the community's aesthetics with the high taxes that we pay; a 10% cut (yeah, keep dreaming) wouldn't even begin to help.  The town's core residence base, which consists of the comfortably well off, will begin to deteriorate. Has this tangible economic loss been considered?

Drebot Family

Castlewood Rd.


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