Two members of the public spoke against the guiding principles. Both of them are long-time citizen activists who have studied Planning and Zoning documents and frequently attend public meetings to express their support or opposition to P&Z actions.
Eleanor Kelsey opened the discussion with a complaint that the POCD documents were inaccessible on the web site, and when she asked for a copy from the town clerk's office, the clerk also had no copy. Laurence Buck echoed this complaint, and added that the POCD as written or as proposed, does not have a 'guiding principles' section. He concluded that the notice for the public hearing ("Proposed update of Guiding Principles of the Plan of Conservation and Development") was illegal.
Neither Phipps nor Deputy Director Michiel Wackers said that the guiding principles were on the web site (the Planning Department has an extensive and nearly exhaustive set of POCD documents, but as far as I can find, the guiding principles are not there, my report on the discussion on principles is in the September 24 Eye, but final language of the guiding principles was developed after that meeting, by Bill Warner).
Kelsey expressed her concern that some of the language in the guiding principles might prevent a land owner from using their land in a way they see fit, "You would have stripped landowners of their rights without compensation." She also objected to an encouragement of alternative forms of transportation without any encouragement of better auto traffic patterns, "We need to connect streets to create cross-town connections. We need to address more than just buses, bikes, and walking."
Kelsey urged the commissioners to hold the public hearing open to allow other members of the public to comment. The Commissioners agreed with her, and continued the public hearing until the April 28 P&Z meeting.
A two lot subdivision at 309 Chamberlain Hill Road was approved without controversy. This subdivision will divide a 20 acre active farm with one house, into a one acre lot with the existing house, and a 19 acre lot with the farm and a new house.
The Commission scheduled a public hearing on a proposed zoning Code text amendment regarding the "sale or dispensation of marijuana and/or medical marijuana." This hearing will be at the April 28 meeting.
Commissioner Barbara Plum returned from her annual 4 month Hawaii hiatus, attending a meeting of the commission for the first time since November.
The controversial February P&Z decision to allow The Public Nightclub on Main Street to continue operating was discussed briefly. Mayor Giuliano, who strenuously opposed the P&Z approval, initiated an appeal by the City of the P&Z decision in Superior Court (Middletown Press coverage). Chairman Phipps reported that he had spoken about this issue at the April Common Council Meeting.
Phipps told his fellow Commissioners that The Public had closed since the lawsuit was filed, and thus the appeal by the City was moot.