2007 News Flashes

November 26, 2007

Election Recap & What’'s Next Edition

I like the noise of democracy --” – James Buchanan

And what a lot of noise we had in our Simsbury municipal elections!  After a brief hiatus for the Thanksgiving holiday, your SHARE Steering Committee is back in action again watching town events to be sure SHARE’s interests are best served.

Election Recap

It certainly was a very interesting election.  With the formation of  the Simsbury Citizens First (SCF) party only about four months ago, the SCF leaders deserve enormous kudos for having put together an outstanding slate of candidates and getting four people elected:  Bruce Elliott (Zoning Commission), John Vaughn (Zoning Commission), Julie Meyer (Planning Commission), and John McCann (Zoning Board of Appeals).  In a town like Simsbury, where many people historically vote the Democrat or Republican party line, getting four people elected from a third party is almost unheard of.  And a couple of other SCF candidates lost by only about 150 votes.  In general, of the approximately 8000 residents who voted, between 20-25% of all voters cast their votes for SCF candidates.  This result clearly shows that the platform of the SCF party appealed to many voters and any time such a large percentage of voters support a third party, the traditional two parties should sit up and take notice!  Additionally, the results of this election were so strong that the SCF party is now an officially and legally recognized political party in Simsbury and will stay active for the next election.

Now returning our focus to the Big-Box issue, there are several things to be excited about.

Clearly it is a good thing to have representatives on land use commissions who understand citizen’s concerns and will assess each application that comes to their commission with an eye for the rights of the land owner, the rights and desires of the citizens and the Town in general, and the intent and language of the newly adopted Simsbury Plan of Conservation and Development.

Mary Glassman, our soon to be sworn in First Selectwoman, clearly said during the election that she was opposed to new Big-Box stores in Simsbury.  One of her mailings said:

“Mary will work to expand Simsbury’s commercial tax base and opposes ‘Big Box’ and inappropriate development not in keeping with the rural character of our town.  She will be proactive and work hard to retain our current businesses and attract desirable new ones that fit with the character of our Town”.

She proposed convening a town-wide focus group called a Charette to create a public vision for our town.  SHARE agrees with this approach and will support development that keeps the bucolic character of Simsbury intact while providing needed tax revenues that generate ‘net positive economic benefit’ to the town.

Please remember the importance of the previous phrase ‘net positive economic benefit’ because that is the most key concept in all this.  Developers always talk about tax benefits but it doesn’t take an accountant to know that any development, no matter what it is, generates taxes.  But all development has short-term and long-term collateral impact on surrounding properties, our downtown zone, traffic, crime, demand for town services, the environment and the life style of the town as a whole.  That entire short and long-term analysis that estimates the complete impact of a development shows the economic impact.  And only a development that in the long-term generates a ‘net positive economic impact’ is what our town needs and wants when balanced with the other objectives and vision of the Simsbury Plan of Conservation and Development.

What’s Next

In early December our newly elected officials and commissioners will be sworn into office to herald in the new Mary Glassman administration.  There will lots going on and we will report back to you on how we think things are going with regards to the issues that matter to SHARE.

Also, the various land use boards have said that they were going to consider working on an amendment to the Simsbury Zoning Regulations for a mixed use zone.

A few months ago, Konover Development withdrew their applications for River Oaks pending the town’s completion of a Planned Development District (mixed use) zone. Presumably Konover is waiting for the town to provide that zone.  SHARE wonders why Konover can’t develop something appropriate for the Southern Gateway that conforms to the Town Plan and that does not include the various undesirable components like the Big-Box in their development plans?  Clearly the Farmington Valley is saturated with retail as evidenced by the many vacancies and for rent signs all over the various local retail corridors.  Also recent local articles indicate that the residential market is slower than it’s been with a decrease in home sales, an increase in foreclosures, and a general wait and see attitude.

Our life style in Simsbury is still wonderful and among the best in the area.  So in the coming months SHARE will need all of you to pay attention to activity regarding future development in town and be willing to call, write, and speak to our elected and appointed officials about what you want and how you want it.  We suggest that you keep a notebook of your thoughts, ideas, questions, and observations about the things that matter to you.  Use your notes to have communications with our officials and use your notes as your personal reference for the next election to remind yourself of who said things just to get elected versus who delivered on their promises.

To Conclude

We will do our best to keep you informed on the issues of importance to SHARE’s mission.  As always, please click reply to your email program and send us any comments, questions, feedback, complaints etc.  Also, as our ‘reporters on the beat’, please email us with anything you hear or see that may be of interest to SHARE’s cause.  We want to hear from you and we will respond to you.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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November 5, 2007

SHARE News Flash

PLEASE VOTE!

Your SHARE Steering Committee just wanted to send out a quick note encouraging each and every person who receives this email (and is registered to vote in Simsbury), to please VOTE tomorrow - November 6th

Please don't let the rain keep you from stopping the Big Box and preserving Simsbury's character.

We have analyzed the candidates and the party platforms and we believe that the new Simsbury Citizens First party is the only unanimous and consistent voice against Big Box development in Simsbury.  The Simsbury Republicans and the Simsbury Democrats have NOT stated that they are against Big Box development.  However, the entire Simsbury Citizens First party and all its candidates have publicly stated that they are against new Big Box development in Simsbury.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

This message is expressly intended for members of S.H.A.R.E. - Simsbury Homeowners Advocating Responsible Expansion

STOP THE BIG BOX!

On November 6th, Your SHARE Steering Committee recommends VOTING FOR:

First Selectman

John Romano

Board of Selectman

Duncan MacKay

Nancy Miller

Chuck Minor

Zoning Commission

Chris Combs

Bruce Elliott

Anthony Napolitano

John Vaughn

Planning Commission 

Brad Mead

Julie Meyer

Alan Needham

Zoning Board of Appeals

John McCann

Board of Finance

Richard Boorman

Rob Ecker

Board of Education

Betsy Scheffel

Laura Swenson

Town Moderator

Chris Boorman 

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November 4, 2007

The Role of the Rest of the Boards & Commissions to prevent Big Box development…

Eighty percent of putts that fall short don’t go in!”  - Yogi Berra

So let’s not fall short.  All elected positions have a role to play to prevent new Big Box development in Simsbury.  Your SHARE Steering Committee believes the Simsbury Citizens Firstcandidates are the best choice to defeat Big Box development !

In several recent SHARE News Flashes we emailed you about the importance of electing Simsbury Citizens First candidates to the Zoning Commission, the Planning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Your SHARE Steering Committee continues to be impressed with the candor of the Simsbury Citizens First party as they are the only party where all candidates have uniformly said that they are against new Big Box development in Simsbury.

Only a couple of the Democrats have said they are against Big Box development but not the entire party.

None of the Republicans have said they are against Big Box development.

Your SHARE Steering Committee is looking for uniformity in opposition to Big Box development to prevent the scourge of Big Box retail in our town.

Only Simsbury Citizens First has uniformly said NO TO THE BIG BOX.

In this News Flash we wanted to talk to you about the role the other boards and commissions play in the issues swirling around the Big Box.

First Selectman & Board of Selectman (BOS)

The Simsbury Citizens First Board of Selectman candidates are all in favor of responsible development without Big Box.  They all say NO TO THE BIG BOX.

The BOS is responsible for personnel decisions including the management of the very important position of Director of Planning & Development and other land use positions.  The BOS would also be in charge of hiring the proposed Director of Economic Development.  Finding and selecting the right people for these jobs is critical to our town.  Finding people who will be responsive to the citizens, to the board and commissions, and do the right thing for our town, property owners and developers is of paramount importance.  The key is to have town employees who recognize that all constituencies need to be listened to and not just the developers as things are today.  We need a strong BOS and First Selectman to ensure that the right thing is done for our town.

The fees ordinance that was recently passed requires developers to pay for independent consultants or peer reviews on large developments.  How this ordinance is enforced is controlled solely by the BOS.  The BOS will be the sole determining board for whether a developer needs to pay for a study, how much they will pay, and whether a peer review is sufficient or if a full independent study is required.  The BOS will also control if a study is needed at all.  Given the scope of River Oaks there is great likelihood that outside studies or consultants will be needed.  We need a strong BOS and First Selectman to ensure that the right thing is done for our town.

The BOS has the authority to create an ordinance to have a non-binding referendum on such issues as Big Box and other significant issues.  Your SHARE Steering Committee believes that a non-binding referendum would be very useful to prove once and for all how unpopular the concept of Big Box development in Simsbury actually is.  The entire Simsbury Citizens First slate agrees that a non-binding referendum is needed for this issue.  We need a strong BOS and First Selectman to ensure that the right thing is done for our town.

The Simsbury Citizens First BOS candidates are in favor of hiring a part time professional Economic Development Coordinator with the salary partially based on a pay for performance structure.  The new Economic Development Coordinator would be proactive in looking for appropriate development like biotech and medical facilities and not Big Box.  We need a strong BOS and First Selectman to ensure that the right thing is done for our town.

The BOS controls the financial grants the town applies for.  The Simsbury Citizens First candidates want to actively pursue the creation of a grant writing process to engage interested volunteer residents to help obtain grants.  We need a strong BOS and First Selectman to ensure that the right thing is done for our town.

The BOS and the Board of Finance (BOF) control the budget for land use studies such as a charrette.  Simsbury Citizens First candidates are all in favor of doing a charrette for the town center and the southern and northern gateways to clearly define the type of development that would be in the best interest of the town.  We need a strong BOS and First Selectman to ensure that the right thing is done for our town.

Board of Finance (BOF) 

The BOF and the BOS control the budget for land use studies and charrettes.  Both Simsbury Citizens First candidates are in favor of finding resources for funding these important activities.

The SCF BOF candidates are for responsible development without Big Box.  They have stated that they understand that Big Box development is fiscally irresponsible.

Board of Education (BOE) 

Remember, this is the first time that you as a voter have actually had a choice for BOE candidates. In the past the Republicans and the Democrats nominated the BOE candidates and they ran unopposed so they were automatically elected regardless of how many votes they actually received.  So the BOE members, who have responsibility for spending 80% of the town’s budget were not elected but rather have, in effect, been appointed by the Republican and Democratic Town committees!

This year, because of Simsbury Citizens First, you now have a choice, a vote, and a voice in who decides how to structure and spend the school budget.

Your SHARE Steering Committee strongly believes that it is a conflict of interest that Mike Goman, CEO of Konover Development (and proposer of River Oaks), continues to serve on the BOE.  In Konover’s first River Oaks brochure that was sent to town residents, Konover stated “a direct benefit [of River Oaks] will be to ease the tax burden reliance on homeowners while providing much needed revenue for schools and services”.  How can this be published by Konover’s CEO, Mike Goman, while simultaneously serving as a Simsbury Board of Education commissioner?  How outrageous!  And Mike Goman was ‘appointed’ to the Board of Education by the Simsbury Republican Town Committee!  Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have asked for Mike Goman’s resignation from the Simsbury Board of Education.

Your SHARE Steering Committee believes that it’s time to elect BOE members that are not tied to party politics and Big Box development.  The two Simsbury Citizens First candidates are opposed to Big Box while being 100% committed to achieving all the ideals necessary to maintain and enhance our world class school system.

 

STOP THE BIG BOX!

On November 6th, Your SHARE Steering Committee recommends VOTING FOR:

First Selectman

John Romano

Board of Selectman

Duncan MacKay

Nancy Miller

Chuck Minor

Board of Finance

Richard Boorman

Rob Ecker

Board of Education

Betsy Scheffel

Laura Swenson

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November 1, 2007

SHARE News Flash

SaveOurSimsbury.org Also Supports "Simsbury Citizens First" candidates…

As you may know, SHARE is not the only organization in Simsbury opposed to new Big-Box development.  SaveOurSimsbury.org (SOS) is another such organization with a mission to provide the public, elected and appointed town officials, and merchants with research about what Big Box development would mean to Simsbury.  SOS is the group putting the wonderful yellow NO BIG BOX signs up all over town!

In the interest of providing SHARE members with access to SaveOurSimsbury.org's opinions on candidates for the upcoming election, we are sending their recent email to you.

Remember, please be sure to vote in the upcoming Simsbury town election on November 6th!  Your vote to elect officials that are against Big Box development has never been more important.

We've provided you with our thoughts on this election issue in two previous emails.  Here is another view from another organization.

Sincerely, 
Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

This message is expressly intended for members of S.H.A.R.E. - Simsbury Homeowners Advocating Responsible Expansion

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News From SaveOurSimsbury.org 
Many of you have written to us and asked how the citizens of Simsbury can help prevent a big-box development. Given that the River Oaks application has been withdrawn, and will most certainly be refiled after the election in November, now is your chance to elect land use officials that support responsible development and are opposed to big box development. On September 27, 2007 SaveOurSimsbury.org sent a letter to the chairman of each political party in Simsbury requesting a written response outlining the party’s position concerning big-box development (please see a copy of this letter on our website 
www.SaveOurSimsbury.org). It was the plan of SaveOurSimsbury.org to give each party a chance to express their position.

The only party to respond to our request was Simsbury Citizens First, who replied “All of our candidates are uniformly and unequivocally opposed to new Big Box development because we understand that this type of development fails to generate real tax revenue, creates excessive traffic, increases crime, lowers neighboring property values, detracts from the profitability of locally owned businesses and the vibrancy of the town center, all of which adversely impact the quality of life in Simsbury. In short, Big Box development is simply not right for Simsbury. “ (please see 
www.SaveOurSimsbury.org to see the response)

The other two parties did not respond to our invitation. However past performance suggests that the other parties do not oppose big-box development. Recently, the two incumbent Democrat Planning Commission candidates voted AGAINST the new Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) specifically because it contains metrics that are designed to prevent out-of-scale development. Democrat Dave Ryan of the Board of Selectman, recently vote against a Fees Ordinance that would require that Developers pay for financial impact studies needed to understand the true impact of “Large and Complex” proposed projects that affect commerce, taxes, traffic, etc. in Simsbury. There has been no indication over the past two and a half years that there is any anti Big Box sentiment within the Republican Party.

Therefore SaveOurSimsbury.org believes that, based upon the response to our letter request and past performance, the best way to prevent big-box development in Simsbury is to VOTE for the Simsbury Citizens First candidates.

After all Simsbury deserves better…no big-box development.

The following are the Simsbury Citizens First Candidates:

Zoning
Chris Combs
Bruce Elliot
Anthony Napolitano
John Vaughn

Planning
Alan Needham
Brad Mead
Julie Meyer

Selectman
John Romano (First Selectman)
Duncan MacKay
Nancy Miller 
Chuck Minor 
Appeals 
John McCann

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October 26, 2007

Absentee Voters Must Absentee Vote Again! 

SHARE has been actively encouraging members to vote with absentee ballots if they are not able to vote on November 6th.  We have heard from a number of you that you have already voted with an absentee ballot.  However, you may need to re-vote with a new absentee ballot.  Here's why:

Unfortunately, the Simsbury Democrats filed a lawsuit to change the position on the ballot for one of their Planning Commission candidates and the judge allowed the change.  This is on top of the already executed improper change to the ballot by the Simsbury Republicans.  Never has Simsbury seen such shenanigans from the Democrats and the Republicans!

If you read our recent "Florida had trouble with chads, Simsbury has trouble with Chip" News Flash, you have seen the story about how Chip Houlihan architected this ballot change based on a supposed 'mistake' in how the Democrats filled out their election forms (see www.sharesimsbury.com for more information on this).  Shame on all of the Simsbury politicians and candidates who did this - how could you expect the citizens of Simsbury to believe it was all a mistake?

The judge on the case ruled that because the Republicans had already made a similar change, the Democrats should be allowed to as well.  Somehow the judge said this was done for fairness versus what he should have done which was to reverse the actions of both parties which would have forced the Democrats and the Republicans to comply with the filing deadlines that they should have complied with originally.  Somehow the judge felt that doing the wrong thing for all was better than forcing the right thing to be done by all.

So all of the absentee ballots that have been filed as of early this week need to be filed again using the revised ballot.  The town has just sent new ballots to all voters who have already voted or who requested an absentee ballot.  If this is you, you will be getting a new absentee ballot in the mail.  Please be sure to re-vote and send the ballot back in!

There was no change on the ballot for the Simsbury Citizens First candidates.

Your SHARE Steering Committee encourages all who cannot make it to the polls on November 6th to please vote with an absentee ballot.  And please consider voting for the Simsbury Citizens First zoning and planning commission candidates.  Your vote for these people can help stop new big box development in Simsbury and, among other things, will help prevent the "Nightmare on Hopmeadow Street" called Simsbury River Oaks.

Simsbury Citizens First Candidates for Zoning & Planning

Zoning                            Planning                    Zoning Board of Appeals 

Chris Combs                    Brad Mead                 John McCann 
Bruce Elliott                    Julie Meyer 
Anthony Napolitano        Alan Needham 
John Vaughn

Sincerely, 
Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

Note: This message is expressly intended for members of S.H.A.R.E. - Simsbury Homeowners Advocating Responsible Expansion

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October 21, 2007

Yeah Sure…

The Republicans and Democrats Supposedly Made a Mistake…

Simsbury Should Not Tolerate What Happened Next!

Some time ago, Florida had trouble with ‘chads’.  Now Simsbury has trouble with Chip!

As you may have read in the Hartford Courant, after the new third party, Simsbury Citizens First, filed their official candidate slate for the upcoming municipal election, the Simsbury Democrats and Republicans realized that they were at risk of losing some elected offices with the positioning of their land use candidates on the ballot versus the Simsbury Citizens First party.  The Democrats and the Republicans didn’t like how they were positioned on the ballot for the critical land use commissions (Zoning Commission and the Planning Commission) and the length of terms assigned for those candidates.

So, what did the two parties do?

Well, the Simsbury Republicans inexplicably got the Simsbury Town Clerk (remember she reports to Tom Vincent) to change their candidate term assignments and move two candidates for the land use commissions on the ballot.  Their claim was that the Republicans made a mistake in how they filled out the election forms.  This change by the Simsbury Town Clerk was made well after the legal deadline for such changes and was a possible violation of state election law. 

Then the Simsbury Democrats tried to do the same switcheroo.  The claim was that the Democrats made a mistake in how they filled out the election forms.  But inexplicably the Simsbury Town Clerk denied their request to make the change.  So what happened next?  Well, Chip Houlihan, a current member of the Planning Commission filed a law suit against the town and got a judge to allow him, as a Planning Commission candidate to be moved on the ballot.  The judge did not consider the rights of the other candidates on the ballot or the actions of the Town Clerk in regard to moving the Republicans but rather just based his ruling on Chip's claim that there was a 'clerical error' by Dave Ryan, Chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.

We want all SHARE members to remember that Chip Houlihan-D is one of the Planning Commissioners (along with Ferg Jansen-D and Greg Piecuch-R) who orchestrated the “middle of the night” Planning Commission vote recission during Christmas vacation week last winter.  Mr. Houlihan is clearly the type of elected official who intends to get his own way at all costs.  Unfortunately for SHARE, his voting record and public statements seem quite unfavorable to the interests of SHARE (as do those of Ferg Jansen).

As a result of all this shenanigans, Simsbury Citizens First filed a formal complaint with state election officials but the judge’s decision takes precedence.  Although strongly urged by attorneys from the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office to file a law suit to have the candidates moved back to their correct place on the ballot, the Simsbury Citizens First party instead decided to focus on winning the election rather than becoming involved in a protracted legal dispute. 

So here we are.  Despite the fact that both the Democrats and the Republicans have been filling these election forms out for a zillion years, isn’t it strange that coincidentally both parties made a “mistake” in how they positioned their candidates for the Zoning and Planning commissions on the ballot?  Even more odd is that the Simsbury Citizens First party, who just filled out the same forms for the first time ever, did not make the same mistake but rather filled the forms out correctly.

We ask you as SHARE members, what do you think about all this?

Well, this is how your SHARE Steering Committee recommends SHARE should react.

We ask that you not tolerate this type of manipulative, calculating, political behavior!  We think it is extraordinarily odd that with Konover’s River Oaks development back-burnered until after the election, that this type of “mistake” was made just for the Zoning and Planning Commission positions on the ballot.  We continue to question the motivation of the Simsbury Republicans and Democrats with regards to land use issues and their intentions towards the Big-Box issue.

We also note that as of the date of this News Flash, the Simsbury Citizens First party is still the only party in Simsbury to uniformly state that they are against new Big-Box development in Simsbury! Neither the Republicans or the Democrats have said that they are against Big Box development.  Mary Glassman said that she is against Big-Box but she is but one lone voice in her party who has said that while the entire Democratic ticket (except for John Hampton) has remained silent on the issue.  We believe it is important for a party to state its position and not just a candidate.  John Romano, candidate for First Selectman, has made his position clear – he is against Big Box Development!

We think it is very important to only vote for parties that will administer our town in a manner that is in favor of responsible development, will work to bring responsible development, and is against new Big-Box development in town.

To conclude, as a strategy to get these candidates elected we, the SHARE Steering Committee, will vote only for the Simsbury Citizens First Zoning and Planning candidates.  We will not vote for any Democrat or Republican Zoning or Planning candidates.  If the ballot says vote for three candidates for a board or commission and there are only two Simsbury Citizens First candidates for that position, then we will only vote for those two Simsbury Citizens First candidates and skip voting for a third candidate in another party.  By not placing a vote for the other parties that ensures a better vote count for favorable anti-Big-Box candidates!  Please consider doing the same.

It is critical to SHARE to get all the Simsbury Citizens First candidates elected to the Zoning and Planning Commissions.  Only then can we be assured that our elected officials will oppose new Big-Box development in Simsbury.

We have attached for your review several of the articles and materials related to this illegal Republican and Democrat election form filing issue and the related court proceedings.  We have to say that just when we think we’ve seen it all, the Simsbury politicos show us more.

Again, with the November 6th election fast approaching, it is absolutely essential for all SHARE members to understand the vital importance of electing Zoning Commission and Planning Commission officials who believe that new Big-Box development is wrong for Simsbury and that economically responsible development in Simsbury should not include new Big-Box development.

Your SHARE Steering Committee believes that the only true litmus test for opposition to new Big-Box development is for a candidate to have the openness and honesty to tell the voters their official position on Big-Box development.  Silence on this subject is NOT opposition.  At best, we believe that silence or vagueness is tacit support for Big-Box development.

Please consider only voting for Simsbury Citizens First candidates for all positions and only Simsbury Citizens First candidates for Zoning and Planning and avoid voting for any other party’s Zoning or Planning candidates.  And remember that all of the candidates for all positions in the Simsbury Citizens First party have agreed to a platform that includes opposition to new Big-Box development.

The upcoming election is our best chance to help stop Big-Box development in our town.  Please keep all this in mind when you vote on November 6th.

On November 6th, VOTE FOR:

Zoning                             Planning         Zoning Board of Appeals

Chris Combs                  Brad Mead      John McCann

Bruce Elliott                    Julie Meyer

Anthony Napolitano       Alan Needham

John Vaughn

This message is expressly intended for members of S.H.A.R.E. - Simsbury Homeowners Advocating Responsible Expansion

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October 14, 2007

SHARE News Flash

Only You Can Make a Difference

To Stop the Big-Box in the November 6th election!

As Yogi Berra once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”.

The Town of Simsbury, Konover Development, and Big-Box opponents like SHARE have arrived at that fork in the road.

With the November 6th election fast approaching, it is absolutely essential for all SHARE members to understand the vital importance of electing Zoning Commission and Planning Commission officials who believe that new Big-Box development is bad for Simsbury and that economically responsible development in Simsbury should not include new Big-Box development.

Your SHARE Steering Committee believes that the only true litmus test for opposition to new Big-Box development is for a candidate to have the openness and honesty to tell the voters their official position on Big-Box development.  Silence on this subject is NOT opposition.  At best, we believe that silence or vagueness is tacit support for Big-Box development.

Only a few candidates for the Zoning and Planning commissions have openly voiced objections to Big-Box development for Simsbury.  More specifically, all of the candidates for all positions in theSimsbury Citizens First party have agreed to a platform that includes opposition to new Big-Box development.

The upcoming election is our best chance to help stop Big-Box development in our town.  Consequently, your SHARE Steering Committee strongly urges you to consider voting for the following Zoning and Planning Commission candidates who have all agreed to represent you in an open manner and provide you with opportunities to express your opinions, to provide you with an accessible and responsive government, and to preserve Simsbury’s character while supporting responsible economic development.  All of these candidates oppose new Big-Box development in Simsbury.

On November 6th, VOTE FOR:

Zoning                             Planning             Zoning Board of Appeals

Chris Combs                  Brad Mead          John McCann

Bruce Elliott                    Julie Meyer

Anthony Napolitano       Alan Needham

John Vaughn

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October 9, 2007

Simsbury Citizens First, the new independent third political party in Simsbury, whose entire slate of candidates is For Responsible Development, and have publicly acknowledged that they are Against Large Scale Retail Development, is having a “Meet and Greet” on Friday, October 12 at Eno Hall from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.  Here is your opportunity to meet and question the 14 new candidates who are running for all boards and commissions in Simsbury.  They are much more than just a “No Big Box” party.  Their platform includes providing accessible and responsive government, keeping Simsbury affordable, preserving Simsbury’s character, promoting economic development, encouraging open space and farmland preservation, providing increased tax relief and services for seniors, veterans, and disabled residents, and maintaining our exceptional education system.

Please come Friday evening to meet the candidates! 

Not only will it be very interesting and educational, it is gearing up to be a great social event! There will be light refreshments including home-made hors d’ouvres, and you’ll still have time when it’s over to go out for a nice dinner or drinks with the friends you meet there. 

Please join your SHARE steering committee in supporting this new party and meet us at Eno on Friday night.

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October 3, 2007

SCTV ELECTION ‘O7 SCHEDULE

The upcoming November 6th election is very important to SHARE members and supporters.  Simsbury Citizens First, the new third party in Simsbury, has a platform which includes the belief that Big Box Development is not good for our town.  The entire slate of candidates agrees that Simsbury needs new leadership which is more responsive to its citizens, that economic development should be promoted according to the new Draft Plan of Conservation and Development, and that it is important to preserve Simsbury’s character while encouragingresponsible development.  Each candidate is opposed to Big Box retail development as it “…fails to generate significant tax revenue, creates excessive traffic and adversely impacts the quality of life and unique character of Simsbury.” (The Romano Report).

SCTV has taped candidate interviews of all three parties which will run on SCTV Channel 21.  The Chamber of Commerce also taped a debate between the 3 First Selectman candidates which will run on SCTV Channel 5.  All shows will run from October 1st to election day.

We want to encourage you to watch the candidate interviews as well as the Chamber forum.  Please get to know all of the candidates so you can make an informed decision on election day.

SCTV Channel 5 First Selectman Candidate Forum:

Mondays         1:00pm - 2:00pm,  and 8:00pm - 9:00pm

Thursdays       1:30pm – 2:30 pm, and 8:30pm – 9:30pm

SCTV Channel 21 Simsbury Election 2007 Candidates for Simsbury Citizens First, Democrats and Republicans:

Mondays         4:00pm – 6:00pm, and 11:00pm – 1:00am

Tuesdays        4:00pm – 6:00pm, and 11:00pm – 1:00am

Wednesdays      4:00pm – 6:00pm, and 11:00pm – 1:00am

Fridays        10:00am – 12:00pm, 12:00pm – 2:00pm, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, 5:00pm – 7:00pm, 7:00pm – 9:00pm, and 9:00pm – 11:00pm.

Saturdays       TBD

Sundays         TBD

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September 30, 2007

Upcoming Election for the Simsbury Zoning Commission

We Need New Zoning Commissioners!

Dear SHARE Supporters:

The decision on River Oaks and any other big-box proposals has been postponed until past the election.  Sometime after the election, the Simsbury Zoning Commission will decide on whether to allow River Oaks and other big-box developments to be built.  Since the current zoning commission has turned down the SHARE zoning amendment (signed by approximately 3,000 residents) to restrict the size of retail stores in town, we expect that the current zoning commissioners will opt to approve River Oaks.  Therefore, we need to elect new zoning commissioners on November 6 who will approach this critical issue with a fresh set of eyes, clear minds, and ears that are open to listening to the voices of the people. 

We are fortunate that a third political party has been established called Simsbury Citizens First.  The party is headed by John Romano for First Selectman.  It consists of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, current office holders, former office holders, and first time candidates.  All have pledged to oppose new big-box development in Simsbury.  But the key to keeping the big-box stores out of Simsbury is to elect the four Simsbury Citizens First zoning commission candidates:  John Vaughn, Bruce Elliott, Anthony Napolitano, and Chris Combs.

Would you be willing to allow us to put a sign in your yard supporting these four zoning commission candidates?  If so, would you please send a reply email with your name and address or send an email to millfam36@aol.com with the same information.  We will bring the sign to your house on October 15, and would ask that you keep it up for three weeks until Election Day (November 6).

Please vote on November 6 especially for these zoning candidates:  Vaughn, Elliott, Napolitano, and Combs.  If you are going to be out of town, just go to town hall and pick up an absentee ballot, fill it out, and turn it back in.  This can be done in less than ten minutes, which is the fastest and easiest way to vote.  And feel free to send this email to one of your friends.  We have 3,000 supporters.  If everyone just sends this to one friend, we can then cover 6,000 people in town.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

P.S. In the coming weeks we will be sending you more information with updates on River Oaks and other related issues.  We will also send you more information about candidates for the upcoming election and our thoughts on election issues.  As in any democratic process, the information your SHARE Steering Committee sends to you is for your review and consideration - how you vote is clearly up to you and we respect that.

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September 18, 2007

SHARE NEWSFLASH:  Planning Commission Public Hearing on POCD Weds 9/19 7 pm SHS

We strongly urge all residents to attend and speak at the public hearing on the town Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) on Weds. September 19th at 7 pm at Simsbury High School Cafeteria.  The current draft is posted on the Simsbury town web site.  As it is now written it recommends as a primary strategy for the CL&P 60 acre parcel Northern Gateway be developed as light Industrial (which would include office buildings) and as an alternative strategy it recommends appropriately scaled mixed-use development.   The key component to making sure that the outcome of a mixed-use development is built appropriately and that it would not include big box retail stores is that as of now the POCD has specific metrics and standards that would require:

  • a 300' greenbelt along Hopmeadow Street
  • ratios that would determine the building sizes and the density of the buildings
  • specific percentages of mixes of use that would prevent "just a shopping mall" from being built.
  • open space requirements and reasonable lot coverage

The Planning Commission must approve the POCD after the public hearing and we need to let our voices be heard that we, the residents, want the POCD to be ratified as is, with the specific language, to ensure that the growth and development in Simsbury is done in a responsible manner which will protect the quality of life we all enjoy.

We have now all seen what Konover wants to build there.  If you do not want to see Big Box stores and acres of pavement such as the proposed River Oaks built on Rte 10 then come and speak out in favor of the town Plan of Conservation and Development as it is currently drafted.  If the POCD is approved this will be the first win for Simsbury in our fight against Big Box stores!

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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September 18, 2007

SHARE NEWSFLASH - Konover Withdraws PDD - It's Not Over Yet!!

As many of you may have seen reported in the Hartford Courant last Friday, Tom Vincent issued a press release announcing that he had asked Konover Development to withdraw their application for a new PDD (Planned Development District) zoning amendment as it was not in the best interest of the town.  We have attached his actual press release for your information.  Yesterday, Monday, September 17, Konover complied and withdrew their application for the PDD zoning amendment.  We have attached that document as well and are very concerned with the idea that the Simsbury Zoning Commission is now beholden to a deadline as demanded by Mike Goman, CEO of Konover to write a PDD regulation in 90 days in order to comply with the terms of Konover's withdrawal.  Once again we ask "Who is in charge in this town and why is the town allowing a developer to determine the time frame for the drafting of a zoning regulation?" Here is more reaction from your SHARE Steering Committee to this most recent twist in the River Oaks saga: 

  • Where have you been for the past two years Mr. Vincent?  Tom Vincent is making one of the most opportunistic election season political maneuvers we have seen to date.  Two years ago, when asked by SHARE for his opinions on Big Box development in Simsbury and whether he thought Konover Development’s Big Box proposal was good for our town, Tom Vincent hid behind flawed legal opinions when he said that he was advised by the town attorney not to comment on a pending application.  The application was so pending that it actually didn’t get submitted to the town for 1.5 years after his comment.  Isn’t it convenient that after the Konover PDD admendment was so clearly unpopular with the overwhelming number of residents in town, Mr. Vincent, worried about the upcoming November 6th election and the strength of the new Simsbury Citizens First party with John Romano running for First Selectman, Mr. Vincent has finally decided to come out and request that Konover withdraw their application.  We think Tom Vincent has done "Too little, too late!".  And he has also wasted hundreds of hours of elected and appointed officials’ and town employee’s time and energy.  He has also wasted many thousands of taxpayer dollars on outside counsel legal expenses dealing with the PDD application that is now being withdrawn.
  • We would have been better off allowing the Konover application to move through the Planning and Zoning Commissions!  Mr Vincent has now given Konover another opportunity to get what they want!  It was clear from the most recent public hearing for the Planning Commission on September 11th that the overwhelming response from the Simsbury residents to the Konover PDD was "We don't want it!".   In our opinion given that the Design Review Board and the Conservation Commission had already sent a negative referral to the Zoning Commission, both accompanied by a three page memo describing the problems with the Konover PDD, and following the public input to the Planning Commission on September 11th, the Planning Commission seemed poised to also send a negative recommendation to the Zoning Commission.  With three negative recommendations and a huge public outcry opposing the Konover PDD there would be no way that the Zoning Commission could do anything other than deny the application.  If Konover's application was denied then they would be required by state statute to wait a full year before submitting another application.  Now, since they have withdrawn their application, they are allowed to resubmit an application for a zoning amendment at any time, whenever they desire.  And the town and the residents will have to start the whole process all over again.  Mr. Vincent's attempt to look like a hero in this, right before the election, actually may be more disruptive than anything else and will serve as a huge disservice to the town and a huge service to the developer.  Thanks for nothing Mr. Vincent.
  • What are the real motives behind Mr. Vincents request?  Mike Goman, CEO of Konover Development Co. is a political insider and supporter of Tom Vincent, attending his most recent fundraiser and logging numerous phone calls with the First Selectman over the past two years (as found in several Freedom of Information inquiries).  Has Mr. Vincent and Konover struck a deal to have the Big Box issue go away until after the November election so that the incumbent ‘old guard’, if re-elected, can then write a new PDD zoning regulation for the town which would allow Big Box development and River Oaks to be built to the sole benefit of Konover and its CEO Mike Goman? 
  • Since it appears that the town's land use boards will now be writing the PDD zoning amendment over the next few months, it is more critical than ever to elect the right people to these offices in the November 6th election!  The SHARE Steering Committee urges all voters to look very carefully at all the candidates on the ballot and what they stand for and to vote in the election this November.  We can tell you that every candidate on the slate for the new party, Simsbury Citizens First, is unified in their opposition to Big Box development in Simsbury and are all dedicated to balancing conservation and development, without the pressure of insider partisan politics.  Remember, as we have been saying all along, by constraints in the town charter, YOU DO NOT GET TO VOTE ON RIVER OAKS!  However, you do get to vote for the elected officials who will be rewriting the towns zoning regulations and making the critical decisions on future developments.  So November 6th (Election Day) will be your opportunity to say NO to Big Box and to make a difference in the future direction of the town.
  • What's Mr. Vincent's rush in wanting to get a PDD zoning amendment written in 90 days?  We question Mr. Vincent's motives in wanting to quickly draft a new town zoning regulation in just 90 days. This time frame does not allow enough time for the land use boards to "get it right" nor does it allow for adequate public participation in the writing of the regulations in the form of a charrette.  The SHARE Steering Committee is in favor of the town establishing PDD zoning amendments, HOWEVER it needs to be done carefully and judiciously and the process needs to come out from behind closed doors and be discussed in public meetings.  We believe PDD's need to be site specific and not floating zones and we believe there are three sites that would be appropriate for a PDD - the town center, the Northern Gateway on Route 10 and the Southern Gateway on Route 10.  These are also identified as appropriate for mixed-use development in the 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development as well as by the expert consultant, Dover-Kohl Planners, that the town brought in from Florida last May.  SHARE strongly advocates for the public participation component in the form of a charrette, prior to the final writing of a new PDD zoning regulation, and that cannot be accomplished in 90 days.  So why does Mr. Vincent once again want to limit public input?  Does he want a PDD that will allow for Big Box development or does he just not understand the complexities of the PDD and appreciate the importance of an open government to the people of Simsbury?
  • The SHARE Steering Committee will continue to closely follow the drafting of the PDD as it will greatly impact the future growth and development of Simsbury for years to come.  We have not yet won the battle against Big Box - not until the new zoning regulations are written and approved that include specific performance and technical standards that will legally protect Simsbury from the encroachment of these widely unwanted retail monoliths!

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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September 9, 2007

SHARE News Flash – We Need You at a Meeting!

What:                   Simsbury Planning Commission Public Hearing on Konover Development’s Planned Development District (PDD) Application

When:                  Tuesday September 11, 2007 at 7:00 PM

Where:                 Simsbury High School Amphitheater

Update:  So far the Simsbury Design Review Board and the Simsbury Conservation Commission have both voted to reject the Konover PDD. 

But now more critical votes are going to take place with the Planning Commission and the Zoning Commission.

Your Only Vote is Your Presence and/or Your Voice!

Please exercise your right to appear and/or speak at these final meetings!

Even if you don’t speak, PLEASE ATTEND to let your presence be felt by the Planning Commission!

In the coming weeks, there will be several other meetings we need you to attend.  We will notify you by email of the dates, times, and reasons for the meetings as the dates near.

Here is some background for this September 11th meeting:

On June 5, 2007 Konover officially submitted their application for the River Oaks project.  However, subsequently they withdrew two of the three parts of their application following the town's legal opinion that two parts of the application were improperly filed.  At this time Konover is moving through the land use approval process for one part of their application, their request for a zoning text amendment for a PDD (Planned Development District) which would allow mixed-use development and River Oaks to be built in Simsbury.

Some reasons why we believe the Konover PDD should be rejected are: 

·        Konover has proposed the PDD be a floating zone.  We believe a PDD floating zone is absolutely wrong for Simsbury as it could potentially open the entire town to mixed-use development, effectively removing all current zoning requirements regardless of the recommendations found in the town's Plan of Conservation and Development and regardless of environmental, historic, neighborhood or traffic impact.  We do not believe that a 'one size fits all' PDD is in the best interest of Simsbury, but rather that a PDD must be site specific in order for the mixed-use development to be integrated into the natural landscape, to link seamlessly with the surroundings, to preserve valued resources and to harmonize with the existing unique and distinct character places.

·        Konover has proposed up to a maximum of 75% lot coverage, excluding sidewalks and public use space (with potential for an additional 2.5% of lot coverage without requiring submission of a new master plan application).    Current zoning regulations in Simsbury allow 40% lot coverage with up to 60% lot coverage with special exception.  A mixed-use development that is built using 'traditional neighborhood design' principles would incorporate provisions for public use spaces, such as civic buildings, and to be 'pedestrian friendly' would necessitate a connectivity of sidewalk grids throughout the project, which could result in an additional 5% to 7% of impervious surface,  bringing the potential total amount of impervious surface to over 80%.  Furthermore, Konover's proposed 2.5% lot coverage alteration threshold without a requisite new master plan application brings the total possible impervious surface to almost 85% and for example, translates to an additional coverage of approximately 1.5 acres on their 'theoretical 60 acre development'  that Konover continuously referred to in recent meetings. The obvious ramification of this potentially excessive impervious surface is the extremely negative environmental impact.  However, equally as troubling is the permanent alteration of the unique character and sense of place of our town with that degree of lot coverage.  On the flip side, the Konover PDD with a maximum of 75% lot coverage applied to the town center may then be too restrictive where it is desirable for the highest density development and in fact could make places such as the Fiddlers Green, Eno Hall, or Apollo's non-compliant if redeveloped in the future as mixed-use, as those lots are currently built out well beyond the 75% lot coverage.

·        Konover has omitted the financial guarantees ensuring the complete build out of the mixed-use development.  Without financial guarantees, there is no way to ensure that a developer completes the entire development which would mean that the final outcome and site design of an approved project could be very different from the expected outcome and approved site design which may result in only the retail portion of the development being built.  Simsbury could just end up with a Big-Box strip mall!

·        Konover has not included any technical or performance standards in their PDD proposal.  Absent any technical or performance standards a mixed-use development built under Konover's PDD may not complement nor be compatible with Simsbury's historic precedents or existing building or site design in terms of its architecture including building form and space, scale, massing and proportion.  Rather, Simsburymay end up with a development of density without design.

·        If approved, Konover's PDD would allow a 'theoretical' development such as River Oaks to be built that would include close to 1 Million Square Feet of building, including a 'Big Box' store of 130,000 square feet of retail, another store of 50,000+ square feet of retail or given that there are no requirements for percentages of mix of uses or metrics for building sizes, the 'theoretical' development could be comprised of seven big box stores, each 130,000 square feet.  The serious problems that could arise from either of those scenarios regarding increased traffic and need to widen roads, insufficient town infrastructure, environmental impact, loss of scenic vistas, decreased property values of surrounding neighborhoods, increased crime, and commercial creep up and down Rte 10 are well understood.  SHARE has collected signatures from 3000 Simsbury residents opposed to Big Box retail development in Simsbury.

·        We commend the four Simsbury land use commissions and chairmen on their past diligence and efforts to 'get it right' in the drafting of a new PDD zoning regulation for the town, as we believe a well written PDD will be a powerful and positive tool for our town in the future. However, the proposed Konover PDD is not that tool, nor do we believe it appropriate for a developer, driven by financial self-interest only, be the one to write the PDD for the town.  Konover's motivations are clear and their disregard for public involvement is also clear through their removal of statements from the town's draft PDD where the town's intent was to involve the public in the shaping of the design of a proposed development.

We hope to see you at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting.

It’s really important for you to be at these meetings.  Konover is trying to make River Oaks a reality and now is the time for you to be extra involved.

Thank you.

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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August 9, 2007

Save the Date     

Sept. 24th 7 pm Zoning Commission PUBLIC HEARING on Konover PDD Zoning Regulation                             

As you know on June 5th Konover submitted their application for River Oaks to the Town of Simsbury. The application consisted of three parts:

  • a zoning text amendment to establish a new zoning regulation in Simsbury for mixed-use development called a Planned Development District or PDD
  • a request for a zone change for the CL&P property from its current zone of Light Industrial to a PDD zone and
  • a site plan for River Oaks

The Town's Special Counsel, Dwight Merriam, reviewed the application, noted that the second and third parts of their application were filed improperly, and suggested that the applicant withdraw those parts.  On Aug. 1st Konover agreed to withdraw all but the first part of their application. Therefore, at this time, the Town's land use boards will only be discussing and voting on Konover's zoning text amendment for a PDD zoning regulation to be adopted.

We want to make it clear that this is not a victory for SHARE and in fact if the Konover PDD is approved as written it will forever change the zoning regulations for the entire town of Simsbury as well as allow River Oaks to be built as originally planned with 1,000,000 sq ft of building and 400,000 sq ft of retail. Please read the actual PDD zoning text amendment submitted by Konover and posted on the SHARE website to fully understand exactly what Konover proposes.

The land use attorney retained by SHARE will be writing a more detailed opinion outlining the very serious flaws of the Konover PDD application to be presented to the Zoning Commission at the public hearing in September, but below are a few of the most glaring problems the SHARE Steering Committee has identified. 

  • Konover proposes their PDD zoning regulation be adopted as a "Floating Zone". If this is approved then anyone could submit an application for a mixed-use development for any lot anywhere in town. That would mean for example, that someone could apply under the new PDD zoning regulation to open a Seven-Eleven convenience store on the ground floor of their home in a residential neighborhood or to build an apartment building complex on a working farm that operates a farm stand. While SHARE agrees in principle with the concept of a PDD and the usefulness of adopting a mixed-use zoning regulation, a "floating zone" for a PDD would wipe out the current Simsbury zoning regulations and offer unlimited development opportunities town wide.
  • Konover's PDD zoning regulation would allow up to 75% lot coverage. Currently the Town of Simsbury allows 40% lot coverage with up to 60% lot coverage under special exception. Clearly, increasing lot coverage to 75% would have a very significant environmental impact as well as drastically alter the look of the town.
  • Konover's PDD omits the current zoning requirement of 20% open space in a development parcel. Again, that would have serious environmental and quality of life implications for the town.
  • Konover's PDD omits the requirement that the developer financially guaranties the completion of the development. Without a financial guarantee there is no way to ensure that a developer builds out the entire project including the economically desirable office buildings and not just the big box stores.

The town land use boards will begin their discussions of the Konover PDD application starting next week as listed below. The first three meetings in August (Design Review, Planning Commission, Conservation Commission) are preliminary discussions with no public audience. The SHARE Steering Committee will be following these closely and will summarize the information in future Newsflashes. While we obviously encourage people to go and hear the information first hand we stress that it will be most critical for all concerned residents to show up and speak at the Planning Commission meeting and the Zoning Commission public hearing scheduled for September.

Aug. 14, 5:00 - 7 pm - Eno Hall - Design Review Board Meeting - No Public Input

Aug. 14, 7 pm - Eno Hall - Planning Commission - No Public Input

Aug. 21, 7 pm - Place TBD - Conservation Commission - No Public Input

Sept 11, 7 pm Planning Commission - PUBLIC INPUT on KONOVER PDD

Sept 24, 7 pm Zoning Commission - PUBLIC HEARING  on KONOVER PDD

Keep in mind, six members of the Simsbury Zoning Commission will have the absolute final vote on the Konover application. The residents of Simsbury DO NOT GET TO VOTE on River Oaks or the Konover PDD zoning regulation! YOUR ONLY VOTE IS YOUR VOICE - NOW IS THE TIME TO SPEAK OUT! Please, write letters to the elected officials, especially the Zoning and Planning Commissions and letters to the editor for the local papers, and most importantly plan to show up at the Planning Commission's public input meeting and at the Zoning commission's public hearing in September. SAY NO TO KONOVER'S PDD AND STOP BIG BOX!

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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July 22, 2007

SHARE Newsflash: Simsbury Citizens First New Political Party

A new independent political party, Simsbury Citizens First (SCF), has been formed to run a slate of candidates in the November '07 town elections. John Romano leads the ticket as candidate for First Selectman and at this time there are seven other candidates committed to running for a variety of boards and commissions. They are Duncan MacKay for Board of Selectman, Richard Boorman for Board of Finance, Laura Swenson for Board of Education, Bruce Elliott and Anthony Napolitano for Zoning Commission, and Brad Mead and Alan Needham for Planning Commission. Additionally, Brenda Sullivan is the Treasurer for John Romano's First Selectman campaign and Bob Duguay is the Treasurer for the Simsbury Citizens First campaign. The SCF expects to fill the remaining spots on the ticket for all the major boards and commissions.

The platform for this new party is based on accessible and responsive town government while providing a voice for the residents. As First Selectman, John Romano will actively facilitate open dialogue between residents and the boards, commissions, and town staff.

Once elected SCF candidates will also work to establish good land use policies and promote responsible economic development including the following:

·       Support and facilitate the implementation of the Planning Commission's current draft of the town's Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) that contains specific metrics for mixed-use development  

·       Support the drafting of new form based zoning regulations that will serve as the legislative means to implement the vision of the POCD

·       Support the funding of the public charrette process (primarily through grants) to determine the best mixed-use outcome for the Simsbury Center, The Northern Gateway and the Southern Gateway, as recommended by the recent presentation by the Dover-Kohl Planning Consultants.

·       SCF is also opposed to new Big Box retail development in Simsbury.

·       Establish a new staff position for a professional Economic Development Coordinator on a commission-based salary to recruit appropriate businesses to Simsbury.

·       Promote the Simsbury Revenue Resource Concept, an initiative brought forward by John Romano, to establish a committee of volunteers charged with researching and identifying  potential outside funding sources (ie:grants, foundations, private donors) for important town projects.

Based on John Romano's demonstrated leadership skills and a well articulated platform that embraces responsible development, as well as the exceptional character and quality of the slate of candidates for the Simsbury Citizens First party, the SHARE Steering Committee fully endorses all the named candidates on this ticket and we encourage you to consider doing the same.

We have attached a recent mailing sent by John Romano and the Simsbury Citizens First campaign for you to read.

If you are interested in supporting John Romano and the Simsbury Citizens First or would like to volunteer for the campaign, feel free to email John Romano at Romano05@comcast.net or call him at 651-9202. The website for SCF is www.SimsburyCitizensFirst.com.

The SHARE Steering Committee

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June 27, 2007

SHARE Newsflash:

Konover’s River Oaks Application – The “Put Your Reading Glasses On” Edition

Please click on the link http://www.sharesimsbury.com/RiverOaks%20Application.htm to view the entire Konover Development River Oaks application.  Later this week we will also post the traffic study submitted by Konover Development Corp.  That document will be available at the same web link.

In talking with town officials, it appears that it has not yet been decided just how the application will proceed and on what timeline. Because there are various scenarios that could play out, we wanted to provide you with what we know at this time.

The application, although filed by Konover at town hall on June 5th, was not considered formally submitted until June 18th the date of the Zoning Commission's (ZC) next regularly-scheduled meeting.

Under state law, the ZC has 65 days to act on it.

First, the ZC refers it to the Planning Commission which, in turn must vote on it within 35 days.

The ZC must also hold a public hearing on the application prior to voting on it.

Fortunately, many of the town officials have requested that the timelines be extended to avoid public hearings during the peak summer vacation period.  We agree that it would not be in our town's best interest to hold public hearings over the summer on a development of this magnitude that would forever alter the unique character of Simsbury and that faces town wide opposition by the majority of residents. However, Konover must request the extension of the Zoning Commission and as of today we do not know Konover's position.

Additionally, the River Oaks application will require several different actions, all ultimately decided and voted on by six members of the Zoning Commission. They are as follows:

1)  A request for a zoning text amendment, specifically Konover's version of a Planned Development District (PDD) allowing for mixed-use development to be built in Simsbury. Currently there is no such regulation in Simsbury allowing for this. The ZC must approve Konover's version of a PDD in order for River Oaks to go through. As you may remember, the ZC has been working for almost a year now writing a PDD zoning regulation for the town. If the ZC approves the Konover PDD however, that would become a permanent regulation for Simsbury, such that other developers could request mixed-uses on almost any lot in town (this is often called a floating zone). We believe the Zoning and Planning Commissions will be extremely interested in public commentary on Konover's proposed PDD, as this legislative decision will deeply impact all of us.

2) A request for a zone change, specifically to change the zone on the 62 acre parcel from Light Industrial to a PDD. If the ZC approves Konover's version of the PDD, we believe this would signal the ZC's receptivity to approving Konover's zone change of this specific parcel.

3) A request for approval by the ZC of Konover's site plan for River Oaks, which currently encompasses almost 70% lot coverage and almost 1,000,000 sq ft of building, including a 130,000 sq ft big box store.

A few things that are unclear:

  • It has not yet been decided if all three parts of the River Oaks application will be heard and voted on all at once or sequentially in separate meetings.
  • It has also not yet been decided if there will be separate public hearings for all three parts of the application or just one public hearing for the entire application.
  • We do not know if the Planning Commission will hold separate public hearings in addition to the Zoning Commission's public hearing.
  • We have asked these questions of Hiram Peck, the Simsbury Town Planner and as of the end of the day on Mon. June 25th he emailed that there have been no decisions yet.

We will continue to try to get this important information out to you as soon as we get it.

The Need For Funding for SHARE:

The SHARE Steering Committee has retained an eminent Hartford based land use attorney to review the application and provide us with legal advice. Our estimate is that this will cost SHARE about $35,000 for full legal representation for this first phase of the process.

So once again, we appeal to you, our members and concerned Simsbury residents.  If you haven't yet contributed to SHARE now is the time to do so.  If you have contributed, thank you, but if you could consider giving more we will use it very carefully to cover the pending legal fees. We want you to know that the Steering Committee is working very closely with the attorney and we are doing as much of the investigatory and preparatory work as possible to minimize the legal costs.

We will keep you posted as we receive more information.

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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June 5, 2007

SHARE News Flash: Konover Submits River Oaks Application

At the risk of being redundant, in a previous News Flash we referenced lyrics from a Joni Mitchell song to summarize our view of River Oaks.  After reading through the attached Konover Development press release, we feel an even stronger connection to this song. 

            They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,

            With a pink hotel, a boutique,

            And a swinging hot spot.

            Don’t it always seem to go

            That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?

            They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

            [ ... …]

Today, June 5, 2007, after 18 months of waiting, the Town of Simsbury finally received Konover’s application for River Oaks.  We wanted to get the attached press release from Konover Development to you as quickly as possible so you can be aware of what was going on in town.

SHARE has not yet seen the River Oaks development application submitted by Konover because the documents need to be logged into the files at town hall and then we will be able to receive a copy.  Depending on how the town makes the documents available to the public, SHARE will work to get the documents available on the www.sharesimsbury.com website unless the town puts them on the town website.  This may take a while depending on when we get the documents from the town and how long it takes to get them scanned into an electronic form.

In the meantime, your SHARE Steering Committee will be working hard to understand the details of the River Oaks application.  Once we have the information regarding the application process for River Oaks, we will keep you informed of meetings and other events.

Since we haven’t seen it yet, we will refrain from detailed comment except to say, that if the formal application is anything like the attached press release, then we don’t like it!  Some of the issues that we see just from reading the press release are: 

  • 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.

And on and on our questions and observations go - we will have many more when we see the submitted application.

So, stay tuned for more information.  In the meantime, we need you to express your opinions on all this to our elected and appointed officials, most importantly the zoning commissioners who have the final vote on this entire application process, (go to www.sharesimsbury.com and navigate to the “Contact Town Officials” page for contact information for them).

Also, please write to our state representative Linda Schofield (Linda.Schofield@cga.ct.gov) and our state senator Tom Herlihy (Thomas.Herlihy@cga.ct.gov).

If you haven’t written a letter or email yet to all these people, then please do.  If you already have written one, then please write another one.  If you feel like sharing your letters with us, please send them via email to newsflash@sharesimsbury.com .

And, very importantly, be sure to attend any and all town board and commission meetings so our elected officials see you paying attention, listening, and thinking about what their actions or inactions may mean in the next election.

Lastly, and we hate to ask for this, but now is the time for us to fundraise more.  We anticipate significant legal and consulting costs for SHARE to represent your interests in this effort.  Please send your donations to SHARE, PO Box 594, Simsbury, CT  06070.

We’ll be back in touch soon.  Let the games begin.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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May 23, 2007

SHARE Newsflash: Konover pays for "unbiased" Urban Design and Town Planning study for review of River Oaks site

At the end of this past Mondays (May 21st) Zoning Commission meeting Hiram Peck, the Simsbury Director of Community Development, mentioned to the ZC that Dover-Kohl Partners (an Urban Design and Town Planning firm based in Florida) were all set to tour the River Oaks site followed by a public meeting next Weds, May 30th. Your SHARE steering committee has looked at the Dover-Kohl web site and while they have one design project which has a few favorable attributes, we are concerned that their focus appears to be on urban projects and incompatible with Simsbury's character. We are also suspect to the entire process, how the firm was chosen and retained, who decided this design consultation needed to be done, and the possible relationship of the design firm with Konover. The ZC appeared to have already known about this as they did not respond with any specific questions about what would be covered and how this had been set up (all they asked about were time & place to meet), however your SHARE steering committee members in attendance at the meeting were hearing about it for the first time.

After further questions to Hiram Peck we were told that the firm, Dover-Kohl, was coming to Simsbury to tour the CL&P property with the town staff (Hiram Peck and Howard Beach), then meet privately with the chairmen of the land use boards to be followed by a public meeting scheduled for 7 pm at Henry James Cafeteria. We were told that the firm was contacted by Hiram Peck and Dwight Merriam (the Special Council to the ZC for River Oaks) after Mr. Peck had negotiated with Konover to pay $5000 for this unbiased, objective design and planning consultation. We were also told that Mr. Peck had sent Dover-Kohl the River Oaks material presented to the town at their pre-application meeting along with the new draft Plan of Conservation and Development, as well as the SHARE website. Mr. Peck said that only town staff would accompany Dover-Kohl during the tour of the site, Konover would not be involved. When asked if a representative from SHARE could go along, Mr. Peck replied that in negotiating with Konover they had stipulated that no opposing parties be in attendance for the tour. According to Mr. Peck the negotiations with Konover's attorney, T.J. Donahue, took place via phone, and therefore there are no public records of what was said and agreed to during the negotiations. Interestingly the way the site visit and the chairman meeting have been structured, FOI laws do not require public notice or public audience. While the spirit of the FOI law would encourage public involvement, the town has chosen to close the process to the public.

More information and discussion of this proposed consultation occurred at the Design Review Board and Planning Commission meetings on Tuesday (May 22). The DRB after discussion passed two resolutions concerning the proposed consultation by Dover-Kohl. First, they stated that they were opposed to having Konover pay for this consultation and second, they believe if a design planning consultation was being done on the Southern Gateway then it should also be done on the Northern Gateway. The PC also had many questions regarding this consultation in terms of how the firm was picked, who made the decisions and who decided to have Konover pay for this. One comment that stands out was made by Mr. Peck as he stated that Konover had never done any work with Dover-Kohl. A quick Google search of Dover-Kohl and Konover would leave one questioning a possible professional relationship between the two companies as there are several apparent joint references.

Your SHARE steering committee has these comments and questions regarding this latest attempt by town hall to promote River Oaks through back door methods:

  • Who initiated the search for a design consultation and why weren't all of the land use boards consulted prior to choosing the final consultant? Was the Zoning Commission consulted and had they all agreed to the chosen firm as it appeared they had at the ZC meeting Monday night?
  • What exactly was negotiated with Konover and who approved the negotiation from the town's side?
  • How can a design planning firm from Florida make recommendations to the town of Simsbury after spending a half a day here? The Dover-Kohl website (www.doverkohl.com) strongly emphasizes the importance of extensive public participation through the charrette process over a period of weeks and involving hundreds of citizens when coming up with a design scheme or town plan. That will obviously not be the case next week, so how much will be accomplished and how well will their recommendations reflect the desires and opinions of the residents of Simsbury and not just Konover? Furthermore, our Planning Commission spent almost two years defining their vision for appropriate mixed-use development for that site - should we not be listening to their  recommendations completed after hours of public testimony and input as well as long and thoughtful deliberation as to the development of the site in context to the historic and current land use policy in our town.
  • Why was none of this discussed and conducted in the open, during public meetings as required by Freedom of Information (FOI) law.

We urge all interested residents to check the Dover-Kohl website and come to next weeks public meeting on Wednesday, May 30th at 7pm at Henry James Cafeteria to hear Dover-Kohl's supposedly objective recommendations and be prepared to ask probing questions and to express your thoughts and opinions on what would be appropriate mixed-use development on the CL&P site. 

Your SHARE Steering Committee

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May 20, 2007

SHARE Newsflash: ZC Meeting Reminder

There will be a Zoning Commission Meeting Monday, May 21st, at 7:00 pm in the Main Meeting Room at Town Hall. The SHARE zoning amendment is on the agenda and will most likely be voted on by the Zoning Commission. There is opportunity for further public comment at the beginning of the meeting before the ZC officially closes the public hearing for the amendment. There are other items on the agenda as well so it is unclear at what point in the evening the ZC will finally vote on the amendment. We urge all interested residents to attend the meeting to see how the ZC votes on this and if indeed they have heard the voices of the people they represent.

The SHARE Steering Committee

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May 8, 2007

Just a reminder that the next SHARE public meeting is this Thursday evening (May 10th):  

The SHARE Steering Committee has received requests to hold periodic public meetings to get to know one another better, exchange ideas, and ask/answer questions.  Primarily these meeting will be an excellent opportunity for all of us to meet in person, to hear one another’s points of view and discuss the issues surrounding responsible development in Simsbury and how we believe that River Oaks, with its Big Box store, is not the type of development that is best for Simsbury.  

Where: Reno’s Gathering Place – 20 Tariffville Road, Simsbury
When: May 10th
Time: 7:30 PM
If you plan to attend, please respond to this email so we can get an approximate head count.
We look forward to seeing you.
Sincerely,
Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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May 6, 2007

River Oaks Pre-Application Meeting Summary & Dorset Crossing Update

Summary of River Oaks Pre-Application Meeting - April 25, 2007

Last week Konover Development Corp. had their first pre-application meeting in front of the four land use boards and the residents of Simsbury. The 60 minute presentation of River Oaks by the Konover team included information by their architect, economist, retail, traffic and environmental consultants. Following the presentation the land use boards had an opportunity to ask questions. The public was not allowed to comment or ask any questions.

Overall, the proposal for River Oaks is the same as seen in their glossy brochures, with almost 70% lot coverage (which is well over the town's existing regulations of a maximum of 60% lot coverage by special exception or 40% without special exception), almost 1,000,000 sq ft of buildings, a double roundabout linked by a grassy median on Route 10 and about 2600 parking spaces. The commissioners of the land use boards asked good questions, while the responses from the Konover team did not seem to fully and/or directly answer the questions satisfactorily.  Subsequent feedback from some land use commissioners and many citizens indicated that they felt that Konover’s responses were incomplete and at times, evasive.

One land use board appeared to be silent as there was no question posed by the Conservation Commission on environmental issues of which there are many given the proposed 69% of impervious surface, the three acres of wetlands on the south end of the site and the subsequent management of storm water discharge.  Currently the existing storm water discharge from that property drains into the Farmington River. We can only believe that there will be in depth questioning of this project by the Conservation Commission as the project moves through the application process.Simsbury's Conservation Commission has a long history of being very thorough and advocating for the highest environmental standards with regard to development in town and we expect that will be the case with a project of this magnitude and potential impact on the surrounding wildlife area of Nod Brook State Park and the scenic Farmington River.

Here are some examples of the questions asked by the commissioners and the often obtuse answers by Konover, all paraphrased. For full coverage SCTV has taped the meeting and will be showing it in the near future – check SCTV’s program schedule for showing dates.

Q: A prior building application about six years ago was denied because the buildings were going to be too close to the road and too high which would limit the view of the ridgeline. With your proposal can you see theHublein Tower in a more panoramic way, more than just one snapshot?   - W. Gardner, Design Review Board

A: Yes

Q: To what extent does River Oaks impact the existing neighborhoods and businesses? - J. Loomis, Planning Commission

A:  Not in an overbearing manner, it honors the abutting houses in scale and design. - TJ Donahue, Konover Attorney

Q: Do you plan on building this in phases or all at once?   - B. Mead, Planning Commission

A: We expect to build it all at once, the land use commissioners will help set the parameters, but there's no guarantee of what will ultimately get built. - TJ Donahue, Konover Attorney

Q: What effect will local small shops have from Target? - S. Bednarcyk, Planning Commission

A: We encourage ours not to compete with the small shops but to compliment them. - Konover Retail Consultant

Q: Has the DOT approved the roundabouts? - J. Gallagher, Zoning Commission

A: We have met with CRCOG and the DOT but there has been no formal comment yet. - Konover Traffic consultant

Q: At 10% over lot coverage, how will you handle that? - A. Barney, Zoning Commission

A: We will propose modifications to the plan. - TJ Donahue, Konover Attorney

Q: With high end homes near Target, did you do a needs assessment? - A. Popik, Zoning Commission

A: All market research shows that this type of project is very desirable, look at the success of West Hartford Center. - TJ Donahue, Konover Attorney

Q: Would this project work without Target? - A. Barney, Zoning Commission

A: For small scale retail to thrive you need very high density like New York City. In Simsbury you won't get independent small scale retail to be viable. - Konover Retail Consultant

Q: Is this project in harmony and scale with the community? - J. Loomis, Planning Commission

A: It is consistent with the 1994 POCD. - TJ Donahue, Konover Attorney

Q: Without the rotaries could you keep Route 10 a two lane road? - S. Bednarcyk, Planning Commission

A: No. - Konover Traffic Consultant

Dorset Crossing Presentation – April 30, 2007

Recently two partners of The Keystone Companies (Tony Giorgio and Karl Krapek) presented their proposed mixed-use development, Dorset Crossing, for the Northern Gateway on Route 10, to members of the SHARE Steering Committee as well as members of the Southwest Homeowners Association, the North Simsbury Coalition and the Save Our Simsbury organization. We have summarized the information for you and have attached the map and site plan for your review. At this time they are still in the pre-application process, so there may be further changes and refinements as they continue through the land use review process. 

·   Dorset Crossing will be developed on Route 10 on a 67 acre parcel of land referred to as the Northern Gateway in the new version of the town Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD), abutting the land that the skating center is on.

·   As part of the project the plans include the alignment of one of the main entrances to Dorset Crossing with Wolcott Road. There will be one or possibly two other entrances from Route 10 to Dorset Crossing.

·   The proposed changes to Route 10 include a traffic light with turning lane at the Wolcott Road entrance and another turning lane at the other main entrance. The developer is also proposing a 3 to 4 ft wide green/planted median strip on Route 10 running parallel to the center section of the development. These changes to Route 10 would require approval by the DOT.

·   Dorset Crossing was planned using Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) principles  incorporating a mix of office, retail, residential, and open-space components

·   The current building plan would encompass 33 - 37% of lot coverage which falls below the town's land use regulations of building to a maximum of 40% lot coverage without a special exception

·   The percentages of mixed-use are as follows:

·        10% Commercial Non-Office (retail and restaurant)

·        15% Commercial Office

·        15% Conservancy (protected open space)

·        50% Residential  (includes apartments, townhouses, condos, houses)

·        10% Mixed-Use (small scale shops and office space on ground floor with residential on second floor)

·      The developers stated they had been following the draft of the POCD closely over the past year and have designed Dorset Crossing to fall within the suggested guidelines of the new POCD Northern Gateway Desirable Performance Objectives for percentages of mix of building uses.

·      The largest building planned is a medical office building with a 14,500 sq ft footprint, three stories tall for a total of 37,500 sq ft.

·      The largest retail building is 13,800 sq ft footprint (currently planned as a pharmacy), with two other buildings (currently planned as restaurants), each with an 8,250 sq ft footprint

·      The footprints of these larger retail and office buildings fall well within the suggested ratio guidelines of the current draft of the POCD

·      There is a Cumberland Farms and gas station currently sited on the southern entrance to Dorset Crossing

·      The residential components are broken down into the following:

§         38 to 42 Townhouses, each about 1,400 to 1,600 sq ft

§         38 to 42 Apartments for rentals

§         43 Single Family with 2 car garage of Colonials and Capes, each about 2,600 to 3000 sq ft

§         13 Executive Condominiums with 3 car garage about 3,500 sq ft each (sited on a cul-de-sac on the most northwestern part of the parcel)

·      The front section of the residential units are clustered around 14,000 sq ft of open space or town green and a large 30,000 sq ft of preserved open space is also sited on the southwestern edge of Dorset Crossing

·      Traffic studies have not yet been completed

·      Environmental issues with Saxton Brook and aquifer will need to be addressed

We will continue to closely follow the application process of Dorset Crossing and provide you with updates as this proposal evolves. The next meeting for Dorset Crossing is scheduled for next Tuesday, May 8th at 5:30 pm at Town Hall for another pre-application meeting with the Design Review Board.

As always we would like to hear your opinions, concerns and questions regarding this new proposal so please email us your responses.

Be sure to check www.sharesimsbury.com for information updates.

Remember, Monday May 7th is the Zoning Commission Public Hearing at 7 pm at Eno Hall for the SHARE zoning amendment to restrict new retail building to 40,000 sq ft. Please attend and let your opinions be heard!

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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May 3, 2007

The zoning commission will be holding a public hearing on Monday May 7 on the SHARE zoning petition to cap the size of retail stores to 40,000 square feet unless they have a curb cut to route 44. 

Any citizen wishing to speak will be given time to express their views

The hearing is at 7pm at Eno Hall. 

Please come and provide your comments to the commissioners.

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April 27, 2007

SHARE News Flash – The “Rebut the Silly Postcard” Edition


All we can say is Oh Brother… like we all don’t have anything better to do than take the time to read some silly postcard that shows up in our mail box as well as write a News Flash to rebut the false statements of the postcard.

For those who don’t know what we’re talking about, we will fill you in, and for those who got a postcard in the mail, we will explain to you why we find this postcard both comical and disturbing.

So What Is This All About?

This week some Simsbury residents received a postcard in the mail from a mysterious and anonymous “group” calling themselves “Citizens For Common Ground”.  This postcard accused your SHARE Steering Committee of a number of very disturbing things.

Apparently these postcards were mailed to some number of people who signed their names to endorse SHARE’s zoning amendment to cap the size of retail development in Simsbury beyond Route 44.  The list of those endorsing this proposed SHARE zoning amendment must have been obtained from Simsbury Town Hall by the person or people creating this postcard.  The names were submitted along with the application for the zoning amendment.

Our Reply to the Postcard

First of all, there’s a good TV show on tonight that we had hoped to watch but instead we must write this email to you to rebut this postcard.  Here are our thoughts on the items mentioned:

Postcard Claim 1

The SHARE Steering Committee has “run illegal credit checks on local officials”

The Truth 1

We have never run credit checks on anyone.  In fact, no credit company like Experian, Equifax, or Transunion will let a third party run a credit check on any individual without validation of a business reason to do so and without having an account relationship with the credit bureau to do so.  In addition, any time a credit check is done on an individual, that person’s credit report stores a notation of the fact that a credit check was done, when it was done, and who ran the report on the individual.  We challenge any town official to obtain a copy of their credit report and show proof that a member of the SHARE Steering Committee has run a credit report on them.  We'’ll be waiting a long time because it never happened.  It’s illegal to run credit reports on people in Connecticut without a valid business reason to do so (the postcard got that part right) and no member of the SHARE Steering Committee has ever done such a thing.

Postcard Claim 2

The SHARE Steering Committee “feed[s] lies to land use commissioners in order to slander fellow board members who do not support S.H.A.R.E.’s agenda”.

The Truth 2

We don’t feed lies to anyone.  In fact, as you have all seen in our numerous News Flashes, we support our statements with facts, articles, research studies, web links, etc.  We don’t slander anyone but rather communicate and interpret what we observe going on in our town.  Sure, we sometimes provide our opinions to commissioners.  Sure we express our dismay when commissioners suddenly flip their positions on key issues without explanation.  Sure we hold elected officials accountable to represent the citizens when it seems as if they are only representing developers.  Sure we sometimes interpret the actions of the commissions and communicate them to other commissioners or board members or the SHARE membership.  But, you know, that’s our right as citizens of Simsbury as well as it is your right as Simsbury citizens too.  We'’ve always encouraged you all to express your opinions, write and call your elected officials, and we have spoken very bluntly at numerous town board and commission meetings about the issues that matter to SHARE -– that’s all of us – the SHARE Steering Committee and all of you as SHARE members.  And, as in any debate, we intend to continue to express our opinions, desires, visions, and wishes to our elected officials to ensure that SHARE’s views are heard.  If our views are contrary to those of an elected official, then so be it, that'’s the democratic process in action.  That isn'’t slander, that'’s freedom of speech.

Postcard Claim 3

The SHARE Steering Committee “threaten[ed] to boycott Simsbury family owned local businesses.  S.H.A.R.E. “muscle” has been visiting these businesses”.

The Truth 3

The thought that we have threatened to boycott local businesses is amazing.  In numerous SHARE News Flash emails we have expressed our grave concern for the impact of Big Box development on our local businesses and we have provided numerous research studies from around the U.S. that show the incredibly detrimental impact of Big Box development on local small town businesses.  We have certainly never threatened to boycott local business but rather have tried to educate everyone that Big Box development in Simsbury could be the end to some of the small businesses, particularly in the Simsbury town center.  We want our town center and local businesses to survive and thrive and we have been very vocal saying so.  As for the comment about our “muscle”, we have had several SHARE Steering Committee members walking around downtown Simsbury talking with local business owners, handing out copies of material that show how damaging Big Box development is, and getting feedback on the concerns of the business owners.  We have heard a pretty unanimous voice of concern from these business owners for what Big Box development in Simsbury could mean to them.  And, if you saw those of us doing the walking around town, you would hardly call them “muscle”… one male member of the SHARE Steering Committee doing most of the walking and talking probably weighs around 160 pounds!

Postcard Claim 4

The SHARE Steering Committee “conspire[d] with the Planning Commission to create a Plan of Development designed solely to deny land use applications before they are filed and considered fairly”.

The Truth 4

We certainly didn'’t “conspire” with the Planning Commission (PC) to deny land use applications before they are filed.  SHARE Steering Committee members have on several occasions provided materials and spoken at Planning and Zoning Commission meetings to address concerns about a variety of POCD and other matters and most of those speeches and presentations were publicized on SCTV.  We have actively provided written and verbal information to the PC for the POCD about the things that matter to SHARE (like metrics in the POCD).  Recently the PC voted to include certain metrics in the POCD and such metrics were widely preferred by town residents who also spoke at numerous Planning and Zoning Commission meetings.

In addition, as you know, we also submitted language for a proposed zoning amendment which about 3000 Simsbury residents signed their name to support.  To do this we used a perfectly legal technique to file an application for an amendment to change zoning regulations to place a size cap on retail development in Simsbury beyond Route 44.  The law allows such proposed amendments to be filed with the town.  To submit this proposal, SHARE paid a fee to the town along with the necessary documents, and hearings are being scheduled by the Planning and Zoning commissions to review, discuss, and vote on the proposed amendment.  It is true that if this is passed, it would “deny” land owners the right to build retail buildings above the proposed size cap.  But if this happens we hardly call this a “conspiracy” but rather the will of the people and of course, to become regulation, it has to be approved and voted on by our elected officials.  To do all this is perfectly legal and it is our right as citizens of Simsbury to try to make this happen and it is part of the democratic process.

Some Other Comments

The postcard accuses the SHARE Steering Committee of breaking the law.  Our response to this accusation is that if a law is broken it should be reported to the appropriate authorities and should be dealt with properly.  We have not broken the law and we are confident of that especially since we have many lawyers advising us.

We consider this postcard episode to be an unfortunate example of the bizarre series of events that continue to occur with regards to the Big Box and River Oaks issues.

For a very long time our town has done everything possible to develop carefully, methodically, and respectfully to ensure that the charm, character, and way of life that most of us love and cherish is preserved.  We think Simsbury should stay the course and continue to be a special place and not transform itself into a retail and commercial strip like Route 44, the Berlin Turnpike, or Buckland Hills in Manchester.

While there is a small number of residents who think Big Box development would be a positive thing for Simsbury, SHARE’s mere existence and size (at last count we have over 3000 members) indicates a strong opposition to Big Box development in town.  Both sides are entitled to their opinion and both sides should continue to express their opinions to our elected and appointed officials.  Our officials then have an obligation to listen to everyone’s views and opinions and sort out what is best for our town.

Your SHARE Steering Committee has always been open and honest with you and we have gone out of our way to find and share information we find meaningful to all concerned.  We believe in fact that we have provided you with a great deal of information which some elected officials would never have otherwise provided to you.  All of our information has been obtained by researching public documents and Internet resources and we have used the Freedom of Information Law to obtain documents that are not readily available.

And we have always operated within the law - and we will continue to do so.  To do otherwise, would be reprehensible.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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April 22, 2007

Dear Fellow SHARE Members:

For the past one year and nine months you, the voice of Simsbury, have been supportive and contributory in the effort to prevent a BIG BOX development project from taking place within the Town of Simsbury.  After several iterations of the proposed RIVER OAKS development our resolve is the same.  We do not oppose development, we oppose that Simsbury is transformed into a BIG BOX environment. 

  1. Konover develops BIG BOX retail and malls.
  2. Konover has failed to get approval for BIG BOX development in Canton and most recently in Watertown and Groton.
  3. The current design of River Oaks is touted as Traditional Neighborhood Design.  There is no such thing as Traditional Neighborhood design with a 130,000 square foot retail anchor.
  4. Konover, as a developer, does not plan to build out the residential aspect of the project.  This will supposedly get farmed out to other developers.
  5. Konover, as a developer, does not plan to build out the office aspect of the project.  This will get farmed out to other developers.
  6. Konover will only develop the retail structures and the area infrastructure.

On Wednesday April 25 at 7:00pm there will be a pre-application meeting in the Simsbury High School Auditorium.  Konover will explain the development to those in attendance and to the Simsbury Land Use commissions.  Only elected officials will be allowed to ask questions or add comments.  During this meeting there will be no opportunity for the public to comment or ask questions. We ask you, is this what we as citizens should be subject to?  Is this is how our rights should be respected?

Regardless of our ability to ask questions, our presence at meetings speaks volumes.  We ask all of you to attend this meeting on Wednesday April 25.  It will not be an anti-development effort, just an ANTI-BIG BOX show of support.

Some supporters of Konover have claimed that SHARE is anti-development.  This could not be further from the truth.  As you know, we are ANTI-BIG BOX.  Good development is beneficial to Simsbury.  BIG BOX DEVELOPMENT is detrimental to our Town.  Let’s take this opportunity to show we care about how our town looks – please attend this meeting and let’s fill up the Simsbury High School Auditorium.

We get few occasions to show our town officials how strongly we feel about this issue.  You’ve written hundreds of letters, attended several meetings previously, and made many phone calls.  As Konover’s BIG BOXbecomes more talked about and gets presented to the town, you will need to increase your personal effort to get involved and express your disapproval.  The time to show our town officials our strong opposition to Big Box development in Simsbury is now and in the future.  See you on Wednesday!

On another note, there is an informal presentation scheduled for this Tues., April 24th at 5:30 pm at the Town Hall Main Meeting room to the Design Review Board by Keystone Co. for a proposed mixed-use development called Dorset Crossing to be built in the Northern Gateway on Rte 10 on the land by the skating center. At this time we have very little information about this project, although it is our understanding that it encompasses about 65 acres of land and will include about 165,000 sq ft of retail and office buildings with an additional mix of condominiums, apartments and single family houses with dedicated land to open space, including possibly a town green. While much attention has been focused on River Oaks the SHARE Steering Committee will try to keep everyone up to date regarding this proposed development as well. We encourage anyone interested to attend the Design Review meeting this Tues to learn first hand about this proposed development and let us know your impressions.

Regards,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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April 15, 2007

SHARE News Flash

Upcoming Important Town Meetings:

Tuesday April 17

Planning Commission Special Meeting – 7:00 PM

Simsbury Town Hall - Main Meeting Room

Wednesday April 18

Zoning Commission Special Meeting – 7:00 PM

Simsbury High School Amphitheater

(Note that this meeting is in the Amphitheater and not the Auditorium

which is located past the auditorium and up the stairs)

Wednesday April 25

Pre-Application Meeting for Konover’s River Oaks proposal

Place & Time TBD

Planning Commission:

As many of you may have heard Greg Piecuch has resigned from the Planning Commission (PC).  Greg was the Republican member of the PC who was not in favor of having certain specific metrics and parameters in the town Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) for the CL&P parcel.

The Republican Town Committee must now nominate a replacement for the Planning Commission.  SHARE urges any registered Republican to send a letter to the editor of the local papers and/or write the Republican Town Committee Nominating Committee Chairman (Tom Rechen, 20 Ox Yoke Drive, Simsbury, CT  06070 or at trechen@pepehazard.com) to recommend that they nominate either Mark Drake or Brad Mead, the current Republican alternates to the PC, for the position as a voting member of the Planning Commission.  Both Mr. Drake and Mr. Mead have been extremely involved with the drafting of the new Town Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) over the past few years and have a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the POCD.  It would only make sense to move one of those alternates up to a full commissioner status rather than bringing in someone new this late in the process.

On Tuesday April 17th (see meeting notice above) the PC will be discussing and voting on the last sections of the town POCD.  It appears likely that there will be no controversy regarding the remaining sections.  If it is all voted on and approved at this meeting, the POCD will go to print and be sent to the CRCOG organization (Capitol Region Council of Governments) and the Simsbury Board of Selectman for review.  We commend PC Chairman Loomis for his leadership and the other commissioners for their dedication to the process.  The other item on the agenda is a zoning amendment submitted by Bill Miller on behalf of SHARE that the PC will be discussing and possibly voting on as a referral to the Zoning Commission.  SHARE has collected almost 3000 signatures from residents in support of this zoning amendment that would limit the size of new single use retail buildings to 40,000 square feet except on Route 44.

SHARE is of course interested in seeing how the Planning Commission and the Zoning Commission treat this retail size limitation zoning amendment given that it is supported by so many town residents. Incidentally, some PC commissioners have publicly expressed in PC meetings that they have heard from many residents their concern about Big Box retail development in Simsbury and how undesirable it would be for our town.

Zoning Commission:

We wanted to inform you of something that happened at a recent Zoning Commission meeting which we think was very unfortunate.  On April 2nd the Zoning Commission (ZC) held a regularly scheduled meeting.  On the agenda was one item for a site plan and then an item listed as "Other Business".  Due to the limited agenda, and the non-specificity of agenda items, there was very little turnout by the public for this meeting.  In fact there were only four people in the public audience.  Fortunately there were two SHARE members in attendance.

When the ZC reached the section of the agenda for "Other Business", the Special Counsel to the ZC, Dwight Merriam made a 40 minute presentation to the ZC introducing his draft of a PDD (Planned Development District) zoning regulation along with accompanying reading material for their consideration.  To refresh everyone’s memory, this new PDD zoning regulation is critical to SHARE's mission for responsible expansion as it will be a determining factor in the outcome of the size and scope of River Oaks. The draft of the PDD presented by Mr. Merriam will allow a developer to build a mixed-use development in a place anywhere in town deemed appropriate by the ZC.  It was stressed by Mr. Merriam that once enacted, the PDD regulation is "virtually unappealable".  As it is currently written (see attached draft) the SHARE Steering Committee believes it gives ‘carte blanche’ to developers in terms of size and scope of what is built.

As you may recall, this was the topic of one previous widely attended and emotional ZC meeting in Eno Hall.  Your SHARE Steering Committee was concerned about the subtle way this extremely important and previously addressed topic was slipped into the ZC agenda.  As always, we encourage and expect our elected and appointed town officials to conduct the Town’s business in an open and transparent manner so we hope this unfortunate incident will not reoccur.

SHARE will be submitting recommendations to the ZC to be included in their consideration of the writing of this extremely important zoning regulation. The next meeting of the ZC is scheduled for this Wednesday April 18 at the SHS amphitheater at 7 pm (see notice above at the top of this email).  Discussion of the PDD draft is on the agenda. We urge any interested residents to attend in order to hear what is presented and discussed as this is a key new piece of legislation that will impact the town of Simsbury for years to come.  There will be no opportunity for public questions or comments at this meeting.  A public hearing will be scheduled in the near future.

Following the April 2nd Zoning meeting, your SHARE steering committee sent the Zoning Chairman a letter regarding the inadequate public notice for the PDD discussion. The Zoning Chairman replied that there would be future opportunities for the public to hear discussion by Mr. Merriam regarding this very important issue. It is unfortunate that the next opportunity for the public to hear the PDD presentation by Mr. Merriam, which was just posted Fri. April 13th, has been scheduled as a Special Meeting for next Weds. April 18th during the school vacation week when many residents will be unable to attend due to vacation plans. We hope there will be other opportunities for the residents to attend informational meetings regarding the PDD zoning regulations before the Zoning Commission schedules a public hearing and takes a vote on this very important legislation in order to facilitate a cooperative and inclusive approach to this process.

River Oaks Pre-Application Meeting:

At this time we have very limited information regarding this meeting.  We do know it has been scheduled for April 25th and that Konover Development will be presenting a more detailed site plan to the Zoning Commission, Planning Commission and Design Review Board.  The commissioners will be allowed to ask questions however it does not appear that there will be any opportunity for questions from the public.  It is however a first chance to see what Konover is actually proposing as so far we have only seen glossy brochures and watercolors.  It will also give the public a chance to see how the land use boards react to this massive development which will be one of the largest in the entire state.  We encourage as many residents as possible to attend and see for themselves what is looming on the horizon and to judge the reactions of our elected officials who will be ultimately making the final decision on what is built on the CL&P property and how our Town evolves in the years to come.

Lastly, and at the risk of being redundant, please write and/or email your elected and appointed officials to express your opinion about what is going on in town with these issues.  Please always be sure to copy the Simsbury Town Clerk (Carolyn Keily–email address ckeily@simsbury-ct.gov) to be sure your letter becomes part of the public record.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

P.S. Please reply to this email with any of your ideas, thoughts, concerns etc.  We always want to hear from you! 

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April 11, 2007

Just a reminder that the next SHARE public meeting is tomorrow:  

The SHARE Steering Committee has received requests to hold periodic public meetings to get to know one another better, exchange ideas, and ask/answer questions.  Primarily these meeting will be an excellent opportunity for all of us to meet in person, to hear one another’s points of view and discuss the issues surrounding responsible development in Simsbury and how we believe that River Oaks, with its Big Box store, is not the type of development that is best for Simsbury.  

Where: Reno’s Gathering Place – 20 Tariffville Road, Simsbury
When: April 12 (and May 10)
Time: 7:30 PM
If you plan to attend, please respond to this email so we can get an approximate head count.

We look forward to seeing you.
Sincerely,
Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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April 4, 2007

SHARE News Flash

Planning Commission Moves Town Plan Forward Voting in Line with Residents' Vision

In order to foster a truly community-based plan, residents’ concerns and ideas need to be shared with local officials. Often residents have an intimate understanding and awareness of the issues in their communities.”(p. 3) “A strong planning process gives ordinary citizens an avenue through which they can influence the development of their community. Why is community input so important? A home is probably the largest investment any of us will ever make, and decisions made at the municipal level profoundly affect that parcel’s value and the overall quality of life in a community. Aside from the periodic trip to the ballot box, there is no other way for the average citizen to voice his or her opinion on development matters on a comprehensive basis.” (p. 30) Building Livable Communities: A Community Design Handbook for Connecticut Towns  prepared by the Regional Plan Association and Connecticut Land Use Coalition

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The Planning Commissioners have heard the resounding voices of the residents and have taken a bold step towards limiting the possibility of a Big-Box store from being built on Route 10. Their proactive planning approach will help ensure that Route 10 remains a two lane road and that the precious characteristics and lifestyle of our town, that we all cherish, are kept intact for years to come. 

On Tuesday March 27, 2007, the Planning Commission (PC) voted in favor of a draft revision with specific language and performance objectives for the "Form Districts", Special Areas section of the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). The form districts include the Planning Commission's vision for mixed-use development for the Northern Gateway (100 acres by the skating center on Rte 10) and the Southern Gateway (60+ acres on the CL&P parcel on Rte 10) where Konover Development has been promoting the River Oaks development. The specific language in the POCD includes such desirable performance objectives as a greenbelt along Rte 10 running the length of the CL&P parcel the width of a soccer field (150 to 300 ft), suggested ranges of percentages of building types in order to achieve a true mixed-use of residential, retail and office, and guidelines for building width and depth in relation to building height in order to maintain a village type development with human scaled design and avoid large out-of-scale buildings. The attached document contains the approved draft.

The vote for the "Form Districts" went as follows: Commissioners Bednarcyk, Gardow, Loomis and Mead (alternate) voted in favor of language that includes such desirable features and Commissioners Houlihan and Jansen voted in opposition. Commissioner Mead was sitting in as an alternate for Commissioner Piecuch who was absent. While the vote carried 4 to 2, it is important to know that the other two alternates, Commissioners Drake and Cole were also in favor of the draft and that shows a clear majority of Planning Commissioners in favor of a plan with specific language to guide mixed-use development in both Gateways.

Your SHARE Steering Committee is pleased that the stalemate is broken; a stalemate which began in late December, when Commissioners Piecuch, Houlihan and Jansen called a special meeting to rescind an earlier PC vote that had passed a completed draft of the POCD. The POCD, already three years overdue, can now move forward. It would be a great disservice to the town and the residents if any of the opposing commissioners (Piecuch, Houlihan or Jansen) attempted to derail the momentum of the POCD at this time by returning to the prior tactics. We applaud Chairman Loomis and the other commissioners for holding firm in their beliefs and putting the best interest of the town and the residents first.

With this action the Planning Commission's vision for the Southern Gateway is now complete. In the Single Use Districts, Special Areas section of the POCD it states that the preferred strategy for development of the CL&P property is I1 (Light Industrial) or Office. SHARE strongly agrees with this as potential development that falls in the Office category, and its many desirable subcategories, will be most beneficial to the town in terms of net tax revenue with the least impact on traffic and other quality of life issues for the residents.

The next step is for the PC to vote on the remaining Special Areas sections of the POCD in order to complete the final draft format at one of their next meetings and send it off to the Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) and the Simsbury Board of Selectman (BOS) for their review. The BOS has many options as to how to proceed with the draft POCD. They can review and discuss it, make recommendations to the PC regarding the draft, and/or opt to vote on either sections of it, all of it or not take a vote at all. The BOS also have the option to hold a public hearing on the draft. Whatever actions the BOS take, are advisory only and the PC has the final decision as to voting the POCD in as written or with changes. Once CRCOG has received the draft, they will review it and make their recommendations to the PC. The PC will hold a final public hearing, scheduled a minimum of 65 days or later from the time that CRCOG receives the draft. We will continue to follow this and keep you posted about any upcoming meetings.  It is essential that the SHARE membership keep a close eye on these developments and continue to urge our elected and appointed officials to represent the interests of the residents.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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March 21, 2007

SHARE News Flash – Bits & Pieces Edition 1

This News Flash is going to be a bit different than prior editions.  There are a number of announcements and issues we want to tell you about so this is going to be a communication of miscellaneous topics.

Public SHARE Meetings To Be Held

The SHARE Steering Committee has received requests to hold periodic public meetings to get to know one another better, exchange ideas, and ask/answer questions.  Primarily these meeting will be an excellent opportunity for all of us to meet in person, to hear one another’s points of view and discuss the issues surrounding responsible development in Simsbury and how we believe that River Oaks, with its Big Box store, is not the type of development that is best for Simsbury.  So here are the details for our upcoming meetings: 

        WhereReno’s Gathering Place – 20 Tariffville Road, Simsbury

        WhenMarch 29 and April 12 and May 10

        Time7: 30 PM

Just so we can get an approximate head count for the meetings, please reply to this email if you plan to attend.

Do I Get To Vote On River Oaks?

We get a lot of questions about this issue.  Unfortunately, the answer is NO.

Whether or not the CL&P parcel gets rezoned from Light Industrial to Mixed Use (also known as a PDD or a Planned Development District) is entirely under the jurisdiction of the Simsbury Zoning Commission.

How the language reads for a newly created PDD zone to accommodate River Oaks (since River Oaks will require such a zone) is entirely under the jurisdiction of the Simsbury Zoning Commission with some limited input, but no veto rights, from other town boards and commissions and citizens.

Whether or not River Oaks gets approved to be built is a more complex issue and series of events, but the primary decision maker is again, you guessed it, the Simsbury Zoning Commission.

So this is why the Simsbury Zoning Commission needs to hear from you now and later, loudly, and often.  Write letters to zoning commissioners and when you do, and this is very important, always send a copy of each and every letter you send to the Simsbury Town Clerk at Simsbury Town Hall so that your letters can become public record.  We continuously hear from certain elected officials that they haven’t been hearing any opposing opinions about these issues.  We know this is not true!  If the letters are sent to the Simsbury Town Clerk also, they become public record and the zoning officials will have a tough time saying that they haven’t been hearing from the residents.  We know that they have been hearing from you, but they don’t seem to want to admit it, so with official proof, there is little they can deny.

The March 12th Board of Selectman Meeting

If you haven’t been watching recent Simsbury Board of Selectman (BOS) meetings on SCTV, you should, because they are far more informative than many shows on network TV.  In the recent March 12, 2007 BOS meeting, two important issues were discussed in a public hearing and voted on by the BOS.

Senior Tax Relief - One issue was property tax relief for senior citizen residents of our town.  The BOS had a public hearing on resident’s views on a reduced package of tax relief submitted to the BOS by the Board of Finance (BOF).  Most of the residents who spoke on this issue were upset with the reduced tax relief plan created by the BOF and they were urging the BOS to reject the proposal and ask the BOF to reconsider the proposal that was originally forwarded to them by a fourteen member bipartisan senior property tax relief study group.  In the end of the meeting, despite the vast majority of the views of the citizens who spoke, the BOS accepted the reduced plan from the BOF by a 4-2 vote with selectman John Romano (R) and John Hampton (D) voting to reject the plan in order to send it back to the BOF to have them adopt the original, more substantial senior tax relief plan.

Developers To Pay For Studies - The second issue was for a new ordinance proposed by the Board of Selectman, to require the applicant, upon request from the town’s land use commissions and staff, to pay for necessary independent studies or consultants when an applicant submits a proposal to the town that has issues which are too comprehensive, complex, or arcane for the town to study themselves.  Examples of such studies and consultants would include review of engineering, traffic, environmental and economic issues.  SHARE believes this concept is essential for responsible development in Simsbury because we believe that developers are incented to provide studies which may not provide complete and balanced facts and figures on a particular issue.  Clearly a developer will only provide a paid study to the town that is favorable to their proposal.  Why would a developer ever provide the town a study that disclosed latent issues which are important to the town but may be unfavorable to the developer?

During the public hearing the town attorney expressed concern that the ordinance, as written, might be legally unenforceable.  We find it disconcerting that an ordinance proposed by the Board of Selectman, a board with several attorneys as selectman, did not meet the legal standards of the town attorney prior to being discussed at a public hearing.  In the end, the BOS tabled the issue in order to have it redrafted in order to meet appropriate legal standards.  We expect this issue to be returned to the BOS shortly with revised language.  An interesting fact described to the BOS by the town planner is that there are about 30 towns in CT with such ordinances including towns like Canton, Farmington, Granby, and Avon (who is drafting one currently).  SHARE believes Simsbury should adopt such an ordinance and citizens should not foot the bill to study important issues about a development’s net economic impact and impacts from traffic, crime, environmental issues, light and noise pollution, etc.

Food For Thought – SHARE wants to say one thing about the reduced tax relief package for seniors.  We understand the concerns of Simsbury’s seniors as some of us are seniors too.  We believe that responsible development in Simsbury can help seniors by providing positive net economic benefits to the town.  However, and this is important, SHARE has provided the town with numerous studies from all over the US that show that Big-Box retail creates little, if any, net economic benefit and often, as these studies show, Big-Box retail actually costs a town more than if the development didn’t get built.  In other words, the economic impacts from Big-Box retail can actually cause taxes to increase directly because of the development!  To read some of these studies, go to www.sharesimsbury.com.

The March 13th Planning Commission Meeting

The Planning Commission (PC) once again addressed the Northern and Southern Gateway Special Areas section of the town Plan of Conservation and Development. Discussion focused on yet another revision that included what SHARE believes to be critical language that would include the use of specific standards to describe the expected outcome for a mixed-use development on either end of Route 10.  During the course of the three hour meeting, there was no change in the commissioners’ opinions of this debate.

Firmly planted on the side of the majority of Simsbury residents who believe the Plan should contain specific language to ensure the appropriate development of the two gateways are Commissioners Bednarcyk (R), Drake (R), Gardow (R), Loomis (R), and Mead (R).  The three commissioners opposed to listening to, and respecting the will of the residents, are Commissioners Houlihan (D), Jansen (D) and Piecuch (R). Commissioner Cole (D) was absent.  Although this clearly shows a majority approval for specific language in the Plan, Commissioners Drake and Mead are alternates and therefore do not have an opportunity to vote on the issue except in the absence of a regular commissioner.

It is unfortunate that the Plan, already three years overdue, continues to be held up by a minority of commissioners on the PC – a minority that does not seem to be listening to the voices of Simsbury residents.  This is especially troublesome in view of the fact that there had been approval of the Plan at a PC meeting back in December 2006 prior to the actions of Commissioners Piecuch, Houlihan and Jansen who called and held a special PC meeting during the Christmas vacation week in order to rescind the earlier vote that would have sent the Plan to the printer.  We can only hope that at some point in the near future the Planning Commission will find a way to approve the Plan drafted with specific language that expresses the will of the residents in order to move it to the next step in the approval process.

What Would Be The Impact on Police Activity at River Oaks?

SHARE believes this is an important issue and is clearly one that we all are concerned with.  Obviously, until a development is built we won’t know the true direct impact on crime and other police activity.  However we can extrapolate statistics from similar developments.  Recently SHARE obtained a report of Canton police activity from the Shoppes at Farmington Valley.  In the next SHARE News Flash we will provide a more detailed review of these materials.  However we wanted to say for now that the numbers are ominous.  From January 1, 2006 to March 6, 2007 there were approximately 750 separately logged police activities at the Canton mall – some insignificant and others serious.  Keep in mind that the Canton mall is a lot smaller than Konover’s proposed River Oaks.  As we’ve said all along, prior studies show that malls like River Oaks generate crime.  It is nonsensical for a developer or town officials to say otherwise.  The statistics speak for themselves and Canton has seen it with their own eyes - more on this later.

The Glossy River Oaks Brochure – We Want To Hear From You!

By now we’re sure you have reviewed Konover’s glossy River Oaks brochure that was sent to everyone’s home.  In a future email we will write about this brochure in more detail.  However, for now, we would like to ask you to email us your comments.  The brochure has 7 quotes from people who favor River Oaks.  We would like to publish in a future email quotes from SHARE members with their thoughts about River Oaks and what they see in this brochure.  If you don’t want your name published with your quote then please tell us or if you do, please tell us that too (if you don’t specify we will not publish your name).

Conclusion

We’ve taken up enough of your time for now and your eyes are probably weary.  In future emails we will cover more topics.  We hope this type of email with a variety of items is of interest to you.

If you are interested in reading about how other ‘SHARE-like’ groups in other towns are dealing with issues similar to those in Simsbury, look at: 

            http://www.ccwatertown.com (Konover is trying to develop Big-Box there too)

            http://www.cantoncare.org

            http://www.ctsmartgrowth.com/frontPage.do

            http://www.staffordfirst.org/ (Konover tried to develop a Big-Box store there too)

As always, we ask that you write letters to our public officials expressing your opinion.  Don’t forget to send copies of all your letters to the Simsbury Town Clerk so they become part of the public record.  Also, please feel free to email SHARE with any questions or comments.  You can reply to this email if you want or send an email to newsflash@sharesimsbury.com.

Please support SHARE by telling your friends and neighbors to join SHARE.  They can join through the www.sharesimsbury.com website.  Ask everyone you know to support SHARE and register on our website.

We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming public meetings.  We’ll be back to you soon with another email.

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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February 21, 2007

SHARE Newsflash: Summary of 2/13 PC Meeting

This past Tues., 2/13 the Planning Commission met to discuss the Special Areas, Southern Gateway section of the Plan of Conservation and Development. SHARE had submitted a proposal for the Southern Gateway Desirable Performance Objectives for the mixed use development option for the CL&P property. The SHARE recommendations included the use of ratios to set parameters for building and street size and the requirement of a greenbelt the width of a regulation soccer field extending the length of the entire CL&P parcel. SHARE believes that specific language is necessary in a form based Plan in order to achieve a successful outcome for a mixed use development.

Design Review Board Chairman Dahlquist, who, over the past few years, has worked extensively with the Planning Commission, sharing his knowledge and expertise of form based approach as it applies to the drafting of the Plan, also submitted a proposal. Mr. Dahlquist proposed designating both the Southern and the Northern Gateways as "village districts" and establishing "character" guidelines for each Gateway. This includes the use of mixed use percentages, ratios and a defined greenbelt or central green in the Gateways. The SHARE Steering Committee believes this proposal would provide the residents, the landowners, the developers and the town with a proactive Plan that promotes smart growth and responsible development for Simsbury particularly in the two remaining largely undeveloped parcels, at the Northern and Southern Gateways.

However, in listening to the commissioners speak at last Tuesdays meeting there has been fundamentally no change in the commissioners' positions since the last meeting regarding the inclusion of specific standards or metrics in the Plan. While there was no vote on the Special Areas section Tues. night, the commissioners each spoke articulating their thoughts on the issue and here is how we interpreted their remarks. Chairman Loomis, Commissioner Bednarcyk, Commissioner Gardow, Commissioner Mead (alternate), Commissioner Drake (alternate) and Commissioner Cole (alternate) all embraced specific language for the Plan. Commissioner Piecuch, Commissioner Houlihan and Commissioner Jansen were adamant in their opposition to specific language in the Plan although their rationale differs.  Commissioners Houlihan and Jansen oppose placing any limits on developers while Commissioner Piecuch now insists on two points:  (1) Planning Commissioners are not competent to articulate specific standards for future development, and (2) it is more important to adopt a POCD consistent with the wishes of the Zoning Commission than to adopt a plan consistent with the widely acknowledged wishes of the residents. This results in the continuation of a stalemate, a three - three split on how to best define the desirable performance objectives for a mixed-use development on the CL&P property.

Because the Planning Commission continues to be deadlocked on the Special Areas section of the Plan, the completion of the new Plan is now delayed further, probably for at least another three months. Therefore, Konover's pending application for River Oaks, will most likely be reviewed under the guidelines of the now outdated town Plan, which does not contain an alternative mixed use option for the CL&P parcel. It is our understanding that if Konover submits a proposal before the new Plan is voted in, they will need to request a zone change and will submit a zoning amendment for a mixed use zone for the CL&P parcel. Konover will still need to go before the Design Review Board, the Planning Commission and for the final approval, the Zoning Commission.

The discussion and vote on the Special Areas section of the Plan will be continued at a later meeting probably in early March. We will let you know when and where the meeting will be once we have that information. In the meantime we will continue to keep you up to date about important meetings and events as we hear about them. Thank you for your continued interest and support.

Your devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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February 11, 2007

SHARE Newsflash: Important PC Meeting 2/13

Reminder: There is a Planning Commission meeting this Tues night, Feb. 13, at Eno Hall at 6:30 pm. While the meeting officially starts at 6:30 the discussion regarding the Plan of Conservation and Development, Special Areas section is the second item on the agenda. The first item is discussion of Capital Improvements for 2007 - 08 and may take a half hour or so. There will be no opportunity for public comment at this meeting, however we urge you to attend in order to show your support of the SHARE proposal that recommends including specific metrics and standards in the Special Areas section of the Plan. Thank you for your continued support of our efforts to work with the Planning Commission to establish a Plan that meets the needs of the community and will guide the growth and development of Simsbury in a responsible way for the next ten years.

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February 2, 2007

Nightmare on Hopmeadow Street 

This SHARE News Flash is a must read!!!

As Joni Mitchell once wrote in the famous song Big Yellow Taxi:

They paved paradise

And put up a parking lot

With a pink hotel, a boutique

And a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go

That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone

They paved paradise

And put in a parking lot

 

Your SHARE Steering Committee urgently wanted to bring to your attention the latest information, we have obtained, because we feel that this is one of the most startling and disturbing documents we have obtained to date.

The information contained in this News Flash, the documents in the attached PDF file and the details in the full document on the SHARE website reveals that Konover Development may not have been forthcoming with our town so far with regards to the massive plans they have for River Oaks.  In fact, based on the attached document, Konover plans to build out River Oaks to include nearly 1 million square feet of various types of structures.  This would make River Oaks one of the largest developments in Connecticut and we find this to be a truly horrifying concept for our town!

The attached PDF file is a portion of a document we obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request from the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT).  We had suspected that Konover Development had discussed alterations to Route 10 with the DOT for some time and our instincts held true.  Please take a few minutes to look through this document to see what Konover Development has in mind for the Southeastern Gateway to Simsbury. 

The attached document can also be downloaded at:

http://www.sharesimsbury.com/Docs/DOT/DOT_FOI_Newsflash.pdf

 

The Full document can also be downloaded at:

http://www.sharesimsbury.com/Docs/DOT/DOT_FOI_News_Flash-Full_File.pdf

Here are a few preliminary comments we would like to make based on our review of these documents:

  • Konover has said for 1.5 years that they had planned about 200,000+ square feet of retail plus some offices and residential buildings.  In general their plans for the amount of square footage being contemplated was fuzzy.  It was hard to interpret their plans based on the watercolor pictures in the River Oaks brochure that was sent to all residents and the vague language in the text.  However, as you can see from the chart on the fourth page of the attachment, these plans call for about 444,000 square feet of retail, 268,000 square feet of offices, 30,000 feet of motel, 26,000 square feet of high turnover restaurant, and about 250,000 square feet of various forms of residential units comprised of 329 individual dwellings (we used an average unit size for all residential units of 750 square feet so all the residential numbers in the table are multiplied by 0.75 for our calculations).
  • We can’t even begin to imagine the gridlock that this proposed traffic configuration will create for our town.  Can you imagine the current traffic load on Route 10 plus the additional load due to an additional 1,000,000 square feet of buildings?  The traffic volumes listed on the fourth page of the attachment appear to be significantly lower than the estimates we have obtained from another traffic consultant.  One point that supports the assertion that these numbers may be flawed is the difference in the numbers on Konover’s chart between the non-Christmas Season and Christmas Season traffic for the Big Box – a difference of only a few hundred cars a day during Saturday Peak.  We ask you, were there only a few hundred more cars on a Saturday during holiday season versus a non holiday season weekday at the new mall in Canton?  Our observation was that the traffic volumes were much much greater during holiday season than during other times of the year at that shopping center.
  • Our research shows that the Konover traffic volumes indicated on page four of the document are markedly lower than other traffic volume studies we have seen.  There are numerous references for Traffic Impact Analyses (TIA) and the most used reference is the Institute for Transportation Engineers’ Trip Generation Manual.  One academic website we found with some interesting information is located at:

http://www.lic.wisc.edu/shapingdane/facilitation/all_resources/impacts/analysis_traffic.htm

which lists several tables of traffic volumes.  From this reference, just the 316,000 square foot Shopping Center listed on the table on page 4 of the Konover document is expected to generate an average number of daily trips in a range from 12 to 270 daily trips per 1000 square feet.  Even if we use the minimum number in this range, this results in 12 * 316 = 3792 trips per day.  This number is 1730 trips per day higher than the Christmas peak number of 2062 in the Konover study.  This number is approximately equal to Konover’s estimate of the total number of car trips for the entire development on a peak Christmas Saturday.  In short, we have significant questions regarding Konover’s traffic volume numbers.

  • We believe that it is essential for the town to require Konover to reimburse the Town of Simsbury for the town to hire impartial, expert consultants to study the impacts of River Oaks on net tax benefits, traffic, crime, noise, light, environmental factors, town infrastructure, etc.  In short, a development of this magnitude will clearly have a huge impact on our town and our elected and appointed officials must be sure all the facts are available and understood.
  • Konover’s prior claims that the traffic impact of River Oaks will be minimal are absurd.  Remember, the entire reason these types of developments are built is to generate traffic.  Why would a retailer want to locate their super-store in a development with minimal traffic?  We believe Konover’s claims about manageable traffic volumes cannot possibly be valid.
  • The maps and drawings of the alterations to Route 10 are horrific.  Can you imagine what it would be like to enter or leave our town on Route 10 with a development of this size, with traffic volumes of this magnitude, and with Route 10 configured in this fashion?  We have heard from most of you that you want Route 10 to stay a two lane road but we assume that also means a two lane road without numerous traffic circles, without five curb cuts and without other traffic slowing obstacles.  Since there are very few traffic circles in Connecticut, we believe that drivers’ unfamiliarity with traffic circles will likely cause a significant slow down in traffic and possibly an increase in accidents.  It already takes too long to travel down Route 10 to/from Avon – we can’t imagine what this journey would be like with a development of over 1,000,000 square feet of buildings.
  • Notice that much of the parking for the development is practically right on Route 10.  There is no wide greenbelt separating the roadway from the parking lot.  Given this diagram we don’t see how there could be the types of roadside greenery, stone walls, trees, and walkways envisioned in Konover’s watercolors.  This is why SHARE has been strongly advocating that a wide greenbelt be specified in the Plan of Conservation and Development for any development on the property.  As you drive down Route 10 as envisioned here, all you will see are acres and acres of parking lots – the worse kind of sprawl imaginable!
  • The information revealed in this document absolutely reinforces the necessity of having specific numbers and metrics in the town’s new Plan of Conservation and Development, Special Areas, Southern Gateway.  Please remember to support SHARE’s proposal for specificity in the Plan by attending the upcoming Planning Commission meeting on February 13th at 7:30 PM (location to be announced soon).  You should also send your own letters voicing concern and support for specific size metrics in the Plan of Conservation and Development.  Your letters must be received at town hall no later than February 7th.  Send your letters to Hiram Peck, Simsbury Town Hall, 933 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury, CT06070.

Rarely do we find ourselves speechless.  As your volunteer advocates for responsible expansion in Simsbury it is our job to speak out about how outrageous this document is and the negative impact River Oaks might have on our town as envisioned here.  But we can’t do this all alonewe need your help… all of you!

As we’ve said before, the most effective way to get our elected and appointed town officials to stop and listen is for you to call, write, and speak to them.  So we encourage you to do just that.  You can find the phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses of all elected and appointed officials at the www.sharesimsbury.com website (click on the Contact Town Officials box on the left of the main page).

Contact any and all of our elected officials and tell them what you think of this.

Finally, please, please, please continue to speak out.  Your voice is all you have here. You will not get to vote on this issue.  Please realize that – again, you will not get to vote on this issue – it is not the way the legal process works for this type of development.  Whether or not River Oaks is built to forever change the quality of life in Simsbury is entirely the decision of our town’s land use commissions (Planning, Zoning, and Design Review).  So speak up, SPEAK LOUDLY and tell them what you think.  Do it now.  Don’t wait to later.  Later may be too late!

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

P.S. - We need funds to help pay for SHARE’s activities and research.  Please send your donations to SHARE, P.O. Box 594, Simsbury, CT  06070

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January 24, 2007

Dear SHARE members,

Recently several SHARE Steering Committee members viewed a presentation on the proposed re-development of the Hoffman Auto property located on the corner of Bushy Hill Road and Rt. 44 in Simsbury. An important goal of SHARE is to be aware of and educated on all major developments occurring in Simsbury. Below is a summary of what we learned:

Throughout the meeting, we noticed that the developer took great care to address concerns of neighboring residents. We feel that the developer has taken a sincere approach in proposing a re-development plan that will benefit the Town of Simsbury, while still maintaining its character. 

  • The development will include:
    • New Honda and Toyota showrooms and service centers
    • A new Nissan showroom and service center, combined with a new Auto Body Shop
    • A new Munson's store
    • A new Best Buy store

As of now, the Design Review Board voted unanimously to recommend approval to the Zoning Commission of the site plan application and the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend a zone change to the Zoning Commission with a few conditions agreed to by the developer, such as continuing to completely restrict any commercial access to or from West Mountain Rd. The town of Simsbury Economic Development Commission has also unanimously approved the redevelopment proposal and sent a letter of recommendation to the Zoning Board.

Now to go into a little more detail: 

  • The existing Toyota and Honda showrooms and service buildings will be re-developed. All three "octagonal" buildings will be removed. The new showrooms will meet Toyota and Honda guidelines which, as a starting point, require a "standard" design so that the franchise can be identified by the building instead of a large sign.  The developer, with guidance from Town staff and Simsbury’s Design Review Board, negotiated with Toyota and Honda to modify the buildings to fit the context of Rte 44.  Our sense was that the height of both buildings will visually appear shorter than the existing "octagonal" buildings.
  • A Nissan dealership and new Hoffman Auto body shop will be added at the northwest corner of the property as a 2-story structure built into the hillside.  With a 12-foot downward slope from Rt. 44 to the rear edge of the Hoffman site, this will significantly reduce the visual impact of this two story building, as its visual height from Route 44 will essentially mirror that of the single story buildings closer to the front of the property.
  • The Best Buy will be a 30,000 sq. foot building, with an attached 3,000 sq. ft. Munson's. Following meetings with the Design Review Board, Best Buy agreed to modify its large yellow sign so that it will not be the same pronounced sign seen on most Best Buy stores.
  • They will not add any curb cuts to W. Mountain Road.  All traffic will continue to enter / exit their existing curb cut to the 4 lane Rt. 44, our region’s major traffic infrastructure.
  • The distance of the redesigned Toyota and Hoffman dealerships to residential neighbors will not change.  The plan though calls for significantly buttressing the existing 50-foot buffer between their property andW. Mountain Road.  For example, the pines in that location have thinned out at the lower heights over the years, such that the visual buffer into the Hoffman site has been diminished.  The plan calls for enhancing this buffer to increase privacy to neighbors. Also, while this buffer is maintained as a conservation easement, that easement expires in a few years. However the developer seeks to make this conservation easement permanent.
  • All "activity" at the site is focused inward or towards Route 44 with the intent of minimizing disturbance to neighbors.
  • Additionally, the developer is working with a lighting design expert to bring to the site custom designed lighting, known as “full cut off”, to reduce "light pollution".  A positive benefit of site redevelopment for local residences and the overall appearance of the site, this is also consistent with the "dark skies" initiative that the Town of Simsbury is in the process of adopting.  Full cut-off lighting is designed to minimize the impact of commercial lighting on residential neighbors, by not spilling over site boundaries
  • From an environmental perspective, some of the additional land they're looking to acquire will be used for a new water detention basin (located toward the back of the property), which they stated will exceed the new DEP water quality requirements. 
  • In addition some attention was given to separating pedestrian traffic from vehicular traffic  by adjusting traffic flow and road design in order to allow safe pedestrian traffic between the auto showrooms, Best Buy, Munson's and the neighboring McDonalds.
  • With respect to concern for neighbors, the exterior walls facing W. Mountain road will be painted a mute beige color, as opposed to a bright white, and the Honda dealership will forgo the "blue wave”.
  • For the Toyota and Nissan dealerships, the materials used will be similar to that which is used at their Audi dealership in East Hartford.
  • The developer has already performed a traffic analysis of the redeveloped property and found that there would not be a significant impact on current Route 44 traffic. Some of facts supporting their claim are: 
    • Auto dealerships by nature are not large traffic generators. People come in & out at different times, with the only peak hours being drop-off & pick-up, which already exists at the site
    • Munson’s does a good business but is not a big traffic generator.
    • Best Buy, while considered a Big Box, does not generate the type of traffic as a Wal-Mart, Target, or supermarket because Best Buy is more of a durable goods store.  How often will one return to Best Buy to purchase another TV?  Wal-mart, Target, supermarkets, and other such stores offering non-durables generate far greater traffic.  The heaviest traffic for a Best Buy would be during the holiday shopping season, and on Sundays (when new sales start), while the car dealerships are closed that day.
  • The developer has performed an extensive economic impact analysis that indicates that there will be an increase to Simsbury's tax revenue of approximately $350K per year, with one time fees paid to the town of $225k, all of which we believe will far exceed any additional drain on town resources. 

From what we have been presented with, this appears to be a great example of “responsible expansion” for the Town of Simsbury, the re-development of an existing commercial site:

  • The developer has reached out to neighbors and is striving to enhance their current circumstances. 
  • This redevelopment improves a commercial site by reducing light pollution, enhancing buffers to the neighbors, instituting higher environmental standards, and integrating safe pedestrian walkways. 
  • The site IS ON Rt. 44, the appropriate infrastructure for this type of development in our region, with the ability to handle traffic generated by such national retail stores.
  • The types of businesses are all low generators of traffic in relation to many of the other uses traditionally seen on 4 lane roadways such as Route 44, and the peak traffic hours for the business are at different times of the day & week.
  • There appears to be a positive tax gain from both one-time payments to the town, as well as recurring tax revenue.
  • This development coincides with SHARE’s zoning petition signed by 2200 Simsbury residents.  It asked to limit large scale, single use retail to 40,000 square feet, unless there is a curb cut on Route 44.  The proposed Best Buy is both under 40,000 square feet and enjoys direct access to Route 44.

Now for the most important and crucial issue this proposal faces before obtaining final approval from the Zoning Commission:

The developer (Hoffman) is seeking a complex zone change in order for their re-development proposal to work. Currently the existing Hoffman property is partially zoned commercial and partially zoned residential. Additionally, their current “lot coverage” (or the amount of land that is covered with an impervious surface) is 70%, which has been accepted as pre-existing non-conforming coverage. The Town of Simsbury currently has a limit of 60% lot coverage under special exception. In order to reduce their lot coverage, the developer has an option to purchase an additional 6 acres of land to the north of their property. This land is currently zoned residential. The developer is seeking to “join” both land parcels into one continuous land parcel zoned commercial. This is where things get complicated. There is a 50-foot wide strip of land owned by an abuttingCanton resident that bisects and divides the two land parcels. This creates a considerable issue facing our town Zoning Commission which must decide whether the non-contiguous nature of the two parcels prevents the town from considering both parcels as one for purposes of lot coverage.

We will bring you additional information as it becomes available.

The developer will go before the Zoning Commission on Monday February 5th to present their plan, and request a zone change. In the meantime we encourage you to write our Town Zoning Commissioners to express how you feel about this proposal.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Your devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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January 9, 2007

In order to keep all SHARE members as informed as possible, we wanted to update you on some recent events.

Following the December 28, 2006 Planning Commission meeting that we informed you of in our last SHARE News Flash, we met with Greg Piecuch, Planning Commissioner, to  listen to his concerns about the former POCD language and to discuss with him our issues and what we felt the POCD needed to accomplish in articulating a vision for the Southern Gateway.  Mr. Piecuch was interested in SHARE's input after the December 28, 2006 meeting.  After these constructive dialogues, SHARE sent the attached document of suggested POCD revisions to John Loomis, the Chairman of the Simsbury Planning Commission.

We expect that these suggestions will be discussed in the January 9th Planning Commission meeting.

Please note that the attached file only lists the language for those sections impacted by the recent Planning Commission discussions.  The changes that SHARE is suggesting are in red font in the document.

Sincerely, 
Your SHARE Steering Committee

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How We Want To Grow - Special Areas

December 29, 2006

Page 94

 SOUTHERN GATEWAY DESIRABLE PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES (continued)

Design Context (continued)

Create a compact, physical settlement/workplace village center surrounded by a protected greenbelt used

for recreational and environmental purposes as well as for the protection of the pre-existing adjacent

residential neighborhood

Establish a deep, wide continuous roadside greenbelt along Hopmeadow Street as open space

resource protection meeting the following objectives:

be a central design element that creates a park or green space with a variable depth from

the street equivalent to the width of a regulation soccer field where residents will have the

opportunities for significant and varied active recreation;

maintain a substantive transition area between the mixed-use development and

residences to the west; and

project the sense to those driving along Hopmeadow Street that the roadside greenbelt

and a continuous view of the ridgeline vista—and not the mixed-use development—is the

defining feature

Restrict the roadside greenbelt with a conservation easement

Define the Village Center edges with open space to secure site identity.

 Land Use

To encourage a mixed-use development, recommend that the Zoning Commission consider granting a

density bonus to a development proposal meeting these criteria (perhaps by increasing the maximum

coverage limit from 40% to 50%).

Recommend to the Zoning Commission that the mix of uses contain a minimum amount of public, core

commercial and residential uses (perhaps including the following guidelines for concentrated uses) as a

percent of the Village Center area:

Civic: 10%

Mixed-use: 12-30%

Office: 10-20%

Non-Office Commercial: 0-10%

Residential: 40-50%

How We Want To Grow - Special Areas

December 29, 2006

Page 95

 SOUTHERN GATEWAY DESIRABLE PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVES (continued)

Land Use (continued)

Use areas:

Conservancy Areas - Protected open space, including, e.g., greens, commons, and private noncommons

on parcels used for agriculture, public recreation, and gardens.

Residential Area - Variety of housing options with a broad range of housing types such as

apartments, townhouses, duplexes, and small lot single family

Mixed-Use Area - The primary intention is to provide uses that meet the retail and service needs

of a traditional community center and its vicinity and may contain other compatible uses such as

civic and institutional uses of community-wide importance and second-floor office and/or

residential uses. The following are intended to establish guidance for overall form and scale:

Locate commercial activities within a consolidated core area for walkability and

convenience with the following objectives:

o Create a strong sense of streetscape between building setbacks and streets

(including internal travel ways that function like streets).

o Emphasize an internal network of two-lane streets that are as narrow as

possible.

o Move building frontages toward the street and generally next to the sidewalk

in order to reinforce the human scale and walkability of the mixed-use

core.

o Create attractive streetscapes with combinations of wide sidewalks

and street trees;

o For buildings that oppose each other across the street, encourage a 2:1

ratio where the separation between the front facades is twice the

building height.

Provide for a complementary mix of building sizes between one-and-a-half and twoand-

a-half stories above grade for variety, visual interest, and human scale proportions:

o Avoid the monolithic and repetitive types of structures

o For guidance purposes in representing human scale, maintain a ratio

of maximum building dimension of width or depth to height, such that

the maximum dimension of either the width or the depth varies from

1.5 times to 4.5 times the building height.

o For human scale reference, the main building footprint of Simsbury

Town Shops is about 26,000 square feet, the adjacent Starbucks is

2,000 square feet, and the Prudential Realty building is 2,400 square

feet.

o For guidance purposes in representing human scale, building height

should be about 25 feet for a one-and-a-half story building and about

35 feet for a two-and-a-half story building.


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