2010 News Flashes

April 6, 2009

A Call to Action – Please Email or Write A Letter!

“You've got to seize the opportunity if it is presented to you” – Clive Davis

Dear SHARE Members:

At the March 15th Zoning Commission Public Hearing, the Zoning Commission heard from about 26 members of the public with their opinions on the draft PAD Zoning Regulation.  The vast majority of those who spoke talked about their desire to see greater specificity and metrics in the PAD regulation and they wanted to ensure that the regulation, if approved, allowed for objective and consistent evaluation of any zoning or development application for which the PAD is to be applied.  They wanted to ensure that any new zoning regulation not only leverages the vision of the 2007 Simsbury Plan of Conservation & Development (POCD) but also expands on the POCD through more precise regulatory language with metrics and specificity.  Most people did not want a “you’ll know it when you see it” approach to the regulation language.

The Zoning Commission claimed to have received 18 letters in favor of the PAD regulation as it is currently drafted.  An examination of those documents revealed that most of them are disguised letters from leaders of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce who are in favor of the PAD language regardless of the ramifications of the language to the Town.  For more detail on who sent these letters, please see the email sent to the Zoning Commission from the SHARE President at www.sharesimsbury.com .

As we have said before, SHARE is supportive of mixed-use development – but it must be done right.  And any zoning regulations that allow for it must be written to be specific and detailed to ensure that it is done right. We all know that very often imprecision and loopholes are what problems are made from.

So the purpose of this email is to ask you, as a SHARE member, to tell our Zoning Commission how you feel about this issue.  We encourage you to write or email the Zoning Commission, Mary Glassman and the Town Planner Hiram Peck with your thoughts and opinions on this very important issue.

We have tried to make this easy for you by creating an email link below.  If you choose to send a paper letter, the instructions to do that are below as well.  To use the email method, you can click on the following link to send a form email which will appear in your email program on your computer for you to edit and then send as you choose.  Obviously feel free to modify the email however you choose.

To send an email to the

Zoning Commission,

(if you experience a problem with this link, please refer to the bottom of this email for a cut-n-paste solution)

Please let the Zoning Commission know your opinion on this important issue.

Please send them a letter or an email.

We have been told that the next Public Hearing on this very important issue is Monday April 19, 2010 at 7 PM in Eno Memorial Hall.

Please mark this on your calendar and please attend the hearing if you are able to.

Please send an email or letter even if you will be at the meeting.

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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EMAIL Cut-n-Paste Solution: Please use the following message or one of your own creation to voice your concerns to the Zoning Commission.

Email TO: JGallagher@simsbury-ct.gov; SBarnett@simsbury-ct.gov; BElliott@simsbury-ct.gov; EPabich@simsbury-ct.gov; ASalls@simsbury-ct.gov; JVaughn@simsbury-ct.gov; MGilkey@simsbury-ct.gov;RPomeroy@simsbury-ct.gov; DRyan@simsbury-ct.gov; mglassman@simsbury-ct.gov; hpeck@simsbury-ct.gov; rdecrescenzo@uks.com

Subject: PLEASE - I Want Detailed Metrics and Specificity in Any PAD Regulation

Dear Chairman Gallagher:

As a resident and concerned citizen of Simsbury, I am opposed to the current draft, including the March 30, 2010 revised version, of the PAD regulation.  I very strongly want any PAD zoning regulation that is drafted and adopted by the Simsbury Zoning Commission to have detailed metrics and specificity in the regulation language.  The current draft is void of metrics and standards which are necessary components of properly drafted regulations.  I fear that if this Draft PAD is approved as a zoning regulation, it has the potential to allow inappropriate development, as well as costly litigation, in Simsbury.  I urge you and the members of the Zoning Commission to review the Minority Report of the PAD Subcommittee of July 27, 2009 as well as the comments made by a member of the Simsbury Design Review Board at the Public Hearing on March 15, 2010.  Numerous residents, the PAD Sub-Committee Minority Report and the Design Review Board’s position offer concrete ideas and suggestions to improve upon the existing Draft PAD.  Please consider this thoughtfully and be willing to incorporate metrics and standards before passing this regulation.

Respectfully yours,

<name and address>

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You can use the text above or any letter you choose to write a paper letter and mail to Simsbury Town Hall.

Please be sure to address the envelope this way:

Zoning Chairman James Gallagher

First Selectman Mary Glassman

Simsbury Town Planner Hiram Peck

C/O Simsbury Town Clerk’s Office

Simsbury Town Hall

933 Hopmeadow Street

Simsbury, CT  06070

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April 1, 2009

Email to the Simsbury Zoning Commission from SHARE President

So what were those 18 letters to the Zoning Commission supporting the PAD?

Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 5:48 PM
To: JGallagher@simsbury-ct.gov; SBarnett@simsbury-ct.gov; BElliott@simsbury-ct.gov; EPabich@simsbury-ct.gov; ASalls@simsbury-ct.gov; JVaughn@simsbury-ct.gov; MGilkey@simsbury-ct.gov; RPomeroy@simsbury-ct.gov; DRyan@simsbury-ct.gov
Cc: mglassman@simsbury-ct.gov; hpeck@simsbury-ct.gov; rdecrescenzo@uks.com
Subject: So what were those 18 letters to the Zoning Commission supporting the PAD?

Dear Simsbury Zoning Commissioners:

At the recent March 15, 2010 Zoning Commission Public Hearing regarding the PAD draft language, the Commission reported publicly that it had received 18 written letters in support of the PAD draft language.

I wanted to write to you as a concerned citizen because I felt the mention of these letters without specific supporting explanation to be at best imprecise and at worse misleading.  I went to Town Hall and reviewed these letters.  I wanted to document my findings:

1)    Letter specifically to Amy Salls from TJ Donohue – in this letter Mr. Donohue was specifically targeting Ms. Salls encouraging her to vote for the PAD language as drafted.  It is widely known that Attorney Donohue represents many landowners and developers and that his advocacy for such issues as the PAD are for hire.  I believe Attorney Donohue may also have family that owns property in a Town area that would benefit from a PAD.

2)    Letter to the ZC from Mike Paine – Mr. Paine is a Planning Commissioner.  In my opinion, it is improper for a voting member of a land use commission to individually advocate for an issue like this.  Mr. Paine had his opportunity to express his support of the PAD as a seated Planning Commissioner and Chairman Loomis spoke to the ZC that night on behalf of the Planning Commission.  I assume people also know that Mr. Paine is a Director Emeriti of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

3)    Letter to the ZC from Dyno Nobel – Dyno Nobel is a large landowner in Town and is entitled to express their opinion

4)    Letter to the ZC from Gerard Toner – Mr. Toner is a resident and is entitled to express his opinion.  I assume it is widely known that Mr. Toner is the Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Simsbury? Mr. Toner is also listed as a Board Member of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce.

5)    Letter to the ZC from Ferg Jansen - Mr. Jansen is a Planning Commissioner.  In my opinion, it is improper for a voting member of a land use commission to individually advocate for an issue like this.  Mr. Jansen had his opportunity to express his support of the PAD as a seated Planning Commissioner and Chairman Loomis spoke to the ZC that night on behalf of the Planning Commission.  To me, the irony in Mr. Jansen’s letter is that he cites “the much heralded 2007 Plan of Conservation & Development” – the irony being that Mr. Jansen voted “NO” in the approval vote of the POCD.  As I recall he was one of two NO votes despite the multiple years of effort by the Planning Commission to draft and create the POCD.  I assume people also know that Mr. Jansen is a Director Emeriti of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

6)    Letter to Hiram Peck from a woman who’s name I can’t make out in the document – she is a citizen and is entitled to express her opinion.  However an important caveat in her letter states “as long as it [the PAD] does not taint or tarnish the charm and aesthetics of the Town”.

7)    Letter to Hiram Peck from Charity Folk, Executive Director, of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce – the Chamber’s advocacy for the PAD is unambiguous as they have been very vocal supporting the PAD

8)    Letter to the ZC from Michael Girard of Girard Brother Corporation – Mr. Girard is a landowner and resident and is entitled to express his opinion.  I assume everyone knows that his wife is Charity Folk, Executive Director of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?  I assume people also know that Mr. Girard is a Director Emeriti of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

9)    Letter to the ZC from Rick Wagner of Simsbury North LLC – Mr. Wagner is a landowner and resident and is entitled to express his opinion.  I assume people also know that Mr. Wagner is on the Board of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

10)  Letter to the ZC from Pamela Bowman, President of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce – I believe Ms. Bowman is not a resident of Simsbury but is a Simsbury business owner and she is the President of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce.

11)  Letter to the ZC from Pamela Lacko, President of Smart Clicks LLC – Ms. Lacko is a resident and Simsbury business owner and is entitled to express her opinion.  I assume people know that Ms. Lacko is also on the Board of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

12)  Letter to the ZC from Jeff Euting of Stewardship Capital Ltd - Mr. Euting is a resident and Simsbury business owner and is entitled to express his opinion.  I assume people know that Mr. Euting is also on the Board of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

13)  Letter to the ZC from Nick Mason – Mr. Mason is a resident and Simsbury business owner and is entitled to express his opinion.  However I wonder if Mr. Mason’s position on the Simsbury Board of Finance is similar to what I say above for Planning Commissioners?  Also, I assume people know that Mr. Mason’s wife Connie is the Immediate Past President of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

14)  Letter to the ZC from George Rafael of the Connecticut Home Builders Association – this letter is self explanatory

15)  Letter to the ZC from Ramon Padron of Prudential Connecticut Realty – Mr. Padron is a resident and local real estate agent and is entitled to express his opinion.

16)  Letter to the ZC from Betty Fiora – Ms. Fiora is a resident and landowner who was involved with the development of the Hoffman Property in recent years and she is entitled to express her opinion.

17)  Letter to the ZC from Robert Rossetti of the Homes Company of Simsbury – Mr. Rosseti is a resident and Simsbury business owner and is entitled to express his opinion.

I wasn’t able to find an 18th letter but perhaps I miscounted or I wasn’t distinguishing one of the documents at Town Hall correctly.

I also find it striking that the PAD Subcommittee had 9 members and 4 of them did not vote in favor of the work product of the Subcommittee and the Minority Report that was drafted and signed by the 4 dissenting members/voters.  This was certainly not a strong endorsement of the Subcommittee’s work product.  In fact, it was a one vote majority.

I also note that one of the speakers at the meeting who spoke in favor of the PAD was Chip Houlihan who is a member of the Planning Commission.  The same comments I made above for Mr. Paine and Mr. Jansen apply here as well.  Also, is Mr. Houlihan an active officer of the Government Affairs Committee of the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce?

In conclusion, I will leave it to you as the reader of this email to determine how many independent people or entities actually wrote those 17 letters. Contrast this with the many opposing views against the current PAD draft expressed live as speakers at the March 15th meeting - most of those dissenting speakers are independent citizens to the best of my knowledge.

Respectfully,

John Lucker

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March 11, 2009

Reminder of Very Important Simsbury Zoning Commission Public Hearing

Public Hearing on Simsbury

Planned Area Development (PAD) Zoning Regulation

Monday March 15th – 7 PM – Eno Memorial Hall

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped” – Tony Robbins, Ultimate Power

It is essential that concerned SHARE members go to this public hearing to voice your views about this PAD zoning regulation.  For background on this PAD regulation, go to www.sharesimsbury.com and read the March 8, 2010posting along with the attachments.  This is the same content that was sent to all SHARE members last Sunday.

Please bring your family.  Bring your neighbors.  Bring your friends.  Please go to this very crucial Zoning Commission public hearing.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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March 7, 2009

A Sleeping Giant – the PAD Zoning Regulation

Public Hearing on Simsbury

Planned Area Development (PAD) Zoning Regulation

Monday March 15th – 7 PM – Eno Memorial Hall

We need all SHARE members to understand this issue and make a difference.

A Planned Area Development (PAD) Regulation is VERY CLOSE to being passed…

As written, it is a regulation that allows DEVELOPERS to decide how THEY want Simsbury to grow, while we as a community risk standing on the sidelines hoping that our elected Zoning Commissioners, without having the proper tools to judge, will “know it when they see it” – Good vs. Bad Development…

As written, it is a regulation that is devoid of standards and boundaries for decision making…

Please attend the Public Hearing and let our Zoning Commissioners know that WE, THE RESIDENTS, want regulations that produce outcomes desirable to us and that adhere to our adopted Plan of Conservation and Development and are consistent with the recent Town Survey!

“The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” – Confucius

Fellow residents and SHARE members:

Trouble is brewing again in Simsbury which could enable very bad development in our town.  It’s a complex issue so to summarize, we will list the basics below:

·         A Planned Area Development (PAD) is a mixed-use development.  Your SHARE Steering Committee conceptually is in favor of mixed-use developments.  If done well and done in the right place with the right parameters and guidelines, such developments could be quite compatible with our town.  But there must be rigid guidelines and metrics in PAD regulations to prevent developments like River Oaks to be built in Simsbury.

·         It appears that since the defeat of the River Oaks proposal, a small number of people in our town and developers seem determined to enable large scale development another way.  That is through the passage of zoning regulations that are so non-specific and vague and devoid of metrics that virtually any development could be allowed.  The PAD zoning regulation proceeding through the approval process is just such a regulation.  It is a drop-in zone and also a zone-free-zone.

·         In short, the draft PAD zoning regulation does not have specific development guidelines in it.  The language is vague and imprecise.  It is ironic that the Zoning Commission is crafting such a regulation because when the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) was being drafted several years ago, SHARE and many residents were outspoken to get metrics into the POCD but the Planning Commission and some politicians and business groups insisted not to have metrics in the POCD because they said such precision belongs in the resulting zoning regulations.  So here we are, down the road a few years, and now the Zoning Commission is putting forward for a Public Hearing a draft PAD regulation devoid of precision and metrics!  If passed this will be great for developers but bad for the Town.

·         Several constituencies in town have pushed our elected officials and commissioners to quietly move this zoning regulation through the process.  Over the past few months, various SHARE Steering Committee members have been working to expose the problems in the PAD draft regulations.

·         We admit that this is a fuzzier issue than the Big Box issue.  There is no gigantic mall proposal like River Oaks being discussed - yet.  Rather, to the untrained eye, it’s just some tedious zoning regulation.  But that zoning language could facilitate the proposal for another gigantic mall by some developer.  And next time, we residents may have a lot less say in the matter if the PAD zoning regulation says it’s OK.

We need you, SHARE members, to please read the attached materials to get better informed on what’s going on here.  Because this could be very bad for our town.

And please put on your calendar the March 15th date at 7 PM in Eno Memorial Hall for the Zoning Commission public meeting.  We need you to come to the meeting.  Bring your family, bring your friends and neighbors.  The more people at the meeting the better.  Come speak your mind about this PAD zoning regulation.

Please please please take the time to read about all this.

And please be prepared to speak your mind about this issue at the public meeting.

Here are descriptions of the attached material for you to read:

1.      Attached Speech by our SHARE President at the Board of Selectman meeting – February 8, 2010 – “John Lucker-BOS Speech-Feb 8 2010-v2.pdf”

2.      Attached Speech by our SHARE President at the Board of Selectman meeting – February 22, 2010 – “John Lucker-BOS Speech-Feb 22 2010-v2.pdf”

3.      Attached Draft Planned Area Development (PAD) Zoning Regulation to be discussed at March 15, 2010 Zoning Commission meeting – “Simsbury DRAFT PAD Zoning Regulation for Public Hearing-Feb 1 2010.pdf”

4.      Attached Letter Prepared as a Minority Dissenting Report from the PAD Sub-Committee – “PAD SubCommittee Minority Report July 27 2009.pdf”

Thanks for reading all this.

As always,

Your Devoted SHARE Steering Committee

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February 8, 2010

John Lucker

88 Blue Ridge Drive, Simsbury

Good Evening.

George Bernard Shaw once said that “Democracy is a device that insures that we shall be

governed no better than we deserve”.

So what do we deserve for economic development?

Much of what we want and don’t want for future economic development was clearly articulated

in the 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development, in the 2008 Town of Simsbury Survey and

the recent Town Center Charrette which also touched on other areas of town. A main

conclusion was that residents want to preserve the character of our community.

These are important as our town was named as the 57th best place to live in the 2009 CNN

Money.com survey and was named to the National Trust’s Top 12 Distinctive Destinations for

2010.

Last Fall Simsbury had a great experience with the Town Center Charrette. We have seen the

excellent draft report and recently received the first draft of the zoning regulations from the

Charrette consultant.

However, without waiting for the draft mixed use regulations from the Charrette, the Zoning

Commission under the leadership of mostly Republican commissioners is plowing forward with

adoption of a Planned Area Development or PAD mixed use regulation of their own.

Why is the Zoning Commission rushing so fast? Why are the mostly Republican

commissioners pushing so hard for this?

Several people I know have heard a rumor that the owner of the Southern Gateway property

may be interested in building a development of mid-sized retail stores. Stores similar in size to

the Kohls and Dicks in Canton. Will this be the Mini River Oaks?

Is the Zoning Commission rushing to develop this PAD amendment for this purpose?

Four members of this past summer’s PAD subcommittee wrote a minority report listing

problems in the PAD draft language. The biggest problem was the lack of specificity and

metrics in the draft. It does not reference the Plan of Conservation and Development. The

draft is very vague in how it’s written and not specific enough for zoning regulations. It is the

language that law suits are made from.

The Zoning Commission has long said that Developers, Property Owners, and Residents

deserve regulations that are understandable and predictable… this PAD draft is neither.

Let me switch briefly to politics.

We all know this is a busy election year. One active campaign is for the US House for

Connecticut’s Fifth District where there are eight candidates - six Republicans, one

Independent, and one incumbent Democrat.

One of the Republican candidates happens to be Mr. Mark Greenberg of Goshen. The same

Mark Greenberg who owns the Southern Gateway CL&P property in Simsbury and who

engaged Konover Development to try and build River Oaks.

To me, it seems pretty early in the campaign cycle to pick a preferred candidate among the 6

political newcomers. However some people in town are clearly lining up to support Mr.

Greenberg.

Recently the Torrington Register Citizen printed an article that Mr. Greenberg has been

formally endorsed as a candidate for US Congress by our own Republican Selectman Moira

Wertheimer and Republican Selectman Robert Hensley.

In mid January there was also a fundraising party for Mr. Greenberg at the Simsbury home of

the former CEO of Konover Development who tried to build River Oaks. Also present at the

party was Konover Development’s former in-house attorney, the former chairman of the

Simsbury Republican Town Committee and several other local Republican leaders. The party

pictures are viewable on Mr. Greenberg’s Facebook page.

Also, a quick review of Mr. Greenberg’s recent campaign filing shows big donations from the

Konover Development CEO, from Simsbury resident and River Oaks attorney TJ Donohue who

recently chided the Zoning Commission for how hard it is to get development done in Simsbury,

and other local architects, developers, builders and land use people. In fact the vast majority of

all of Mr. Greenberg’s campaign donors state-wide are in the real estate or development

business.

Not that there is anything wrong with all this.

But I do think it presents an appearance. Why is there so much Simsbury Republican focus on a

candidate who is only known as the man who tried to build River Oaks? Back then, why were

so many Simsbury Republican leaders in favor of River Oaks when the vast majority of the

town was so against it?

Does any of this have anything to do with why the Republican Zoning Commissioners are

pushing for this imperfect draft PAD so hard and so fast? Why not wait for the Charrette mixed

use regs to be finished?

Fellow residents, please pay attention to these issues. Do not forget what this town went

through with the River Oaks experience.

If we don’t pay attention to what’s going on and what can result from it, we could find ourselves

no longer the quintessential New England town. And then we could find ourselves getting what

we deserve, not what we want.

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February 22, 2010

John Lucker

88 Blue Ridge Drive, Simsbury

A wise person once said that “One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a

problem before it becomes an emergency”.

I want to speak to you, Mrs. Glassman as our First Selectman, and to the rest of the Board of

Selectman tonight about the problem I see evolving in our town which I am confident will

become an emergency if not dealt with. I strongly believe that this problem, if left unmanaged,

will over time destroy the character of our beloved Simsbury. We can say goodbye to our

“Quintessential New England Town” as we spiral into ubiquitous suburban sprawl.

Tonight I want to outline some of my concerns about the PAD zoning regulation currently being

drafted and finalized by the Zoning Commission for a public hearing on March 15th. I believe

this PAD regulation is perhaps the most flawed work product ever produced by the Simsbury

Zoning Commission in memory. I have spoken to numerous knowledgeable people about the

current draft and they have all uniformly said that the PAD draft is an incredibly flawed

regulation that will inevitably cause our town to develop in extremely negative ways and will

cost our town a fortune in litigation from developers seeking fair and consistent treatment from

one development proposal to the next.

My observations and concerns are as follows:

1) the PAD as drafted is devoid of metrics and standards. It can mean different things to

different people in different contexts and circumstances. It is a nearly entirely subjective

regulation which provides users with nothing but ambiguity. My prediction is if the PAD in this

form passes, Simsbury will incur significant litigation in the future or will suffer bad

development to avoid litigation. I think an essential question to ask our Town Attorney is could

he successfully defend the Town of Simsbury in court over all sections of this PAD? I don’t

believe he would confidently say Yes.

2) the PAD as drafted, is a Zone-Free-Zone. It would overlay on top of any existing zone and

allow a vague, unspecified proposal to circumvent more specific underlying language like the

Charrette’s zone regulations or any vision or direction for another parcel from the Plan of

Conservation and Development. A PAD regulation like this makes the Charrette and the POCD

irrelevant.

3) if we must have a PAD, it should serve all the constituents of Simsbury – landowners,

business people, developers and residents. This current PAD draft appears to only serve certain

landowners, certain politicians with odd motivations and the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce

who has been inexplicably lobbying for the PAD.

4) any PAD draft, or any zoning regulation draft, should be reviewed by and discussed with a

land use attorney before the regulation goes to public hearing. Our Town Attorney is not a land

use attorney.

5) I continue to question why we are creating a PAD regulation at all versus waiting for the

Charrette process to complete and for the excellent draft mixed-use zoning regulation that has

already emerged from the Charrette consultants to be enacted.

6) other towns embrace predictability in their zoning regulations. Other towns’ zoning

regulations give their commissions specificity and guidance. Why not this PAD? What is

motivating the Simsbury Zoning Commission to ramrod this regulation through the process?

7) our Zoning Commission should be drafting regulations that tell developers and landowners

what the Town wants. Regulations should make this clear and achievable. Rather the Zoning

Commission seems to be focused more on providing a “we’ll know it when we see it” approach

which is more expensive for developers, creates uncertainty and ambiguity for the approval

process, and virtually guarantees the approval process and public hearing process will be

controversial and acrimonious.

Lastly, Mrs. Glassman, I assume you want Simsbury to have the reputation as a town of

rationality with a responsible development infrastructure. I assume you don’t want Simsbury to

be a town headed towards sprawl. I assume you wouldn’t want to be remembered as the

Simsbury First Selectman under whose leadership Simsbury became like everywhere else. Mrs.

Glassman, in my opinion, and in the opinion of other residents who are knowledgeable in land

use issues, you are allowing the Planning Director Hiram Peck and the Zoning Commission to go

astray. You cannot make the excuse that the Zoning Commission doesn’t report to you because

Mr. Peck does report to you and those of us watching this process have seen loud and clear that

Mr. Peck is a strong driver and influencer of this process. Mrs. Glassman, I think you should be

very nervous about what is going on here. I think you need to provide leadership to the land use

commissions by providing direction to Hiram Peck and reminding him and the commissions that

we must not jeopardize the character and lifestyle of our town for the sake of expediency or

political influence from a small contingent of self-interested parties.

Otherwise, I am confident that this Board of Selectman and its First Selectman will go down in

Simsbury history as the management that made it possible for sprawl to take over our town - the

town that is one of the 2010 Dozen Distinctive Destinations.

Lastly, please review the attached graphic showing some of the numerous current commercial

and retail vacancies in Simsbury, Avon and Canton. These pictures were taken last Friday

February 19th. Please provide the necessary leadership for this Zoning Commission problem

before the inevitable emergency happens later. We don’t need any development just to say we

did, we need the right development – development we want, development we will enjoy and

development that we will all economically benefit from now and in the future.

Thank you.

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MINORITY REPORT

PAD SUBCOMMITTEE

July 27, 2009

Page 1 of 5

OVERVIEW

The PAD Subcommittee concluded work drafting a Planned Area Development

Regulation on July 21st, 2009 with a motion and majority vote to send the draft to the full

Zoning Commission for further action at today’s meeting.

The final count from members submitting a vote was four in favor and three opposed to

forwarding the draft as written with several modifications to be amended to the

document as the Town Attorney and Planning Director deemed appropriate. It should

be noted that the final document submitted today has not been reviewed by the

Subcommittee.

The PAD Subcommittee found common ground in the principle of promoting future

sustainable development. As a very simplified definition, sustainability means that

future generations of Simsbury residents will enjoy the same choices in Land Use that

we do today.

However, beyond that common purpose, there were at least two strongly held and

competing viewpoints for the role of a PAD regulation on how best to achieve

sustainable development:

1st As primarily an enabling mechanism for mixed-use development with broad,

generalized requirements and undefined expectations resulting in outcomes to

be determined – a re-active response to implementing policy and preserving

business as usual

And the alternative viewpoint:

2nd As an effective tool to shape new places and stimulate redevelopment sites by

emphasizing what we, as a community of stakeholders, specifically wish to

protect and want to build – a pro-active response to implementing policy

consistent with the 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development

The two approaches are fundamentally different and most likely irreconcilable.

The 1st viewpoint is a simplified notion of regulating settling for “knowing what we don’t

want in Simsbury” being more important than “requiring what we do want”. This

MINORITY REPORT

PAD SUBCOMMITTEE

July 27, 2009

Page 2 of 5

viewpoint eliminates specificity and represents a negative approach to regulating relying

instead on the full discretionary powers of the Zoning Commission to eventually make

the right decision without benefit of a means to measure good versus bad qualities of

development. This position is supported by a Zoning Commissioner, two Economic

Development Commissioners and a Conservation Commissioner.

The 2nd viewpoint promotes a forward-thinking positive approach beginning with building

on what we have to determine what Simsbury wants and then how best to regulate to

achieve that result. This 2nd approach is one that has gained increasing attention

across the country in communities dealing with the same issues we have searching for

effective means to offset the issues related to suburban sprawl. This position has the

full support of a Zoning Commissioner, a Planning Commissioner, a Zoning Board of

Appeals Commissioner and the Design Review Board Chairman - all of whom

participated on the Subcommittee.

The Planning Director’s attempt to bridge some of the gap between the two viewpoints

to achieve a “balance” of competing ideas unfortunately created less clarity and more

confusion within the current draft, and consequently not to the satisfaction of either side.

The current PAD draft regulation is predominantly representative of the 1st viewpoint.

As an important note a good PAD regulation should be considered as a development

engine, but ironically the current draft dismisses arguably the single, most important

factor to both commissioners, Town residents and to the developer and that is

predictability. Without predictability there is reduced certainty for approval which is

counter to our best interests as well as the developer.

KEY OBSERVATIONS

What rules and regulations should govern and establish the boundaries of permissible

decision making for a Planned Area Development?

We think a PAD regulation should have:

Linkage to an adopted public policy

Clearly defined boundaries for decision-making

Specific standards to guide developers, commissioners, and staff alike

Sufficient physical detail to allow for predictable outcomes

MINORITY REPORT

PAD SUBCOMMITTEE

July 27, 2009

Page 3 of 5

The challenge in crafting a new regulation lies beyond simply enabling a mixed-use

since that could be done easily in a few paragraphs using a conventional zoning format.

The challenge for Simsbury is to build well, and building well means in the best long

term interest for Simsbury that includes provisions for mixed-use developments. That

said there are desirable as well as undesirable mixed-use developments, and those

distinctions should be identified and made clear.

The challenge is also to understand the nature of what is being regulated. Mixed-use

can be anything and everything between a single building on a single parcel to a full

blown village on multiple lots with multiple owners and all the levels of complexity

between. Would a single 2 acre lot carry the same regulatory requirements as a 50

acre contiguous series of parcels? That is a rhetorical question of course.

Zoning discretion has always played a part in our community and will continue to do so.

The answer to how much discretion lies somewhere within the continuum from complete

zoning flexibility to total rigidity.

The issue then is not whether to preclude flexibility or discretion, but how far it should be

permitted to go. Well-defined boundaries can ensure uniformity of application, equal

treatment, yes – predictability, and the retention of legislative authority in legislative

bodies where people can exercise some control.

A system works best that balances flexibility with restraint or, in other words flexibility

with specifications. In the end when considering how much or how little specification,

the discussion may reduce to a planning argument: To what degree should we specify

in advance what land uses should be where and what criteria should guide decision

makers in making discretionary decisions?

Specifications come from a planning process, supported by legislative action, offering

policy guidance and criteria for decision making by competent administrators. That

action plan was laid out in the adopted 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development.

The fundamental position of the minority members is that the plan or vision must

precede the regulation – the Town must decide what is physically desirable before

deciding how to build it and certainly before trying to regulate it. Boundaries within the

two extremes are then defined by specifications both in amount and in detail. The

distinctions are very important even critical for success.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The minority members recommend the following seven action steps:

MINORITY REPORT

PAD SUBCOMMITTEE

July 27, 2009

Page 4 of 5

1. Temporarily defer further action on a PAD regulation to allow Zoning

Commissioners time to:

(a) Benefit from the learned experiences for the Simsbury Center Form-Based

Code

(b) Gain needed expertise from the commissioned design professionals in

crafting the regulation

(c) Secure a commitment from the Board of Selectmen to provide financial

resources needed to engage a land use attorney with recognized expertise in

developing both mixed-use and form based type regulations

(d) Allow the residents to see the Simsbury Center process and encourage local

ownership to ease the PAD implementation as an extension of the new Code

2. Elaborate on and more fully develop the Purpose section to include Smart

Growth Principles as recommended by the State of Connecticut, the possibility of

a Traditional Neighborhood Development, and basic site planning standards

3. Refine the four primary organizing districts or Special Areas described in the

2007 Plan of Conservation and Development in more detail as representing the

most likely sites for a PAD “Floating” zone application to land

(a) Cluster (Edge), Hamlet (General), Village (Center), and Town Center (Core)

(b) Specify Public Space Standards for each of the four Special Areas to include:

• Streets, civic places, sidewalks, street trees, street furniture, etc.

(c) Specify Building Form Standards for each of the four Special Areas to

include:

• Configuration, placement, features and functions of buildings that

define and shape the public realm

4. Adopt the basic components of the 2007 Plan of Conservation and Development

Special Areas Map as the basis for a town-wide regulating plan

(a) A Plan should accompany the Text for a complete regulatory document

MINORITY REPORT

PAD SUBCOMMITTEE

July 27, 2009

Page 5 of 5

5. Prepare a comprehensive Glossary

(a) Definitions of uncommon technical terms and phrases used in the code

targeting parallel with town center form based regulation to be produced from

the charrette

6. Endorse a revised draft by ZC vote then schedule / conduct public hearing

7. Consider public input and revise the draft accordingly - vote on final draft

Submitted by: Julie Meyer – Planning Commission

Emile Dahlquist – Design Review Board

Bruce Elliott - Zoning Commission

John McCann - Zoning Board of Appeals


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