What do you think New Canaan should look like in 10 or 20 years? How could the town improve the quality of life for those who live here? What makes New Canaan a good place to make a home, raise a family, run a business?
What should be the top priorities? What quality-of-life issues should the Planning & Zoning Commission and other town boards consider when a proposal comes up? What should town officials get to work proposing? What should they encourage or discourage?
The P&Z Commission and other town officials want to know what your concerns and ideas are for the town's next Plan for Conservation and Development, a multiyear guide that officials use to help them make decisions about what the town wants and needs in terms of land use.
So at 7 p.m. on March 21 in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School, the P&Z Commission will hold a public hearing to get your ideas for the plan.
Selectmen approve hiring a consultant
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday unanimously approved a $40,000 request from Planning and Zoning to hire a consulting firm, Planimetrics, to update the POCD.
If the POCD is not updated by June 2014, then under state regulations the town may no longer be eligible for some discretionary state funding such as for bridge repair, town Planning Director Steve Kleppin told the board during the selectmen's regular monthly meeting, held at the New Canaan Police Department.
The POCD is meant to reflect the town's major concerns over the next 10 or 20 years or so when it comes to promoting or discouraging various types of building projects—not just homes and businesses, but schools, cell phone towers, natural gas pipelines and sidewalks.
The last two times New Canaan created such a plan were 2003 and 1984, Kleppin said at a news conference held on Friday to announce the March public hearing.
(A copy of the 2003 Plan of Conservation and Development can be found on the town's website.)
Role of the plan
Each time the plan was updated, officials used aspects of it to help set priorities and goals. In some cases, state law mandates that a plan for conservation and development be consulted by town decisionmakers before deciding on a land use proposal.
The plan, which will be adopted by the Planning & Zoning Commission, "is advisory—it doesn't tell anybody what they have to do," said Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics, speaking at a news conference with Kleppin on Friday. "It's a suggestion of things that would produce positive results for the community."
According to state regulations, towns have until the summer of 2014 to get their plan approved and registered with the state. Kleppin told the selectmen that the town is on track to finish updating its plan by the end of this calendar year or January 2014 at the latest.
"We are always complaining about unfunded state mandates, which this is," ," Selectman Nick Williams said during the Tuesday meeting. "But it strikes me that this is not a bad idea."
Editor's note: Some of the wording in the first paragraph came from the Town of Stratford's announcement asking residents to tell town officials about their priorities for a plan of conservation and development in that town. We liked the questions so much, we used them here.