Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Neighborhood Character

Ed McKeon is a Middletown Eye editor, and resident of Pearl Street.  He is challenging the expansion of the MX Zone, and recommended that former residences in the ID Zone be regulated as a residential zone with adaptive reuse allowed.  This is an opinon piece.

 There are those who advocate a change in the MX code who say it won't alter the character of the neighborhood.

Let's say, for example, that a high-traffic, drive thru restaurant is allowed on Washington Street, just South of High.  That means more traffic on High and Pearl.  A big black-top parking lot.  Dumpsters, early morning deliveries, idling cars, illuminated signs, industrial fans and air conditioners.  Noise. Litter. Diesel fumes mixed with the scent of greasy food.  Ugly, right?  And those factors will influence every home within a block of this restaurant.  But advocates say it wouldn't affect that neighborhood.  Here's a little photo essay to give you a sense of the neighborhood it would affect.  You decide, where should the Burger King go?

The Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission meets Wednesday, February 27, 7 PM, in City Hall's Council Chambers to deliberate two significant zoning proposals which could affect this neighborhood, and others.


Anonymous said...

And what occurs on rt 66 won't impact any of those homes, say Ed your fighting a Starbucks, those go in to very affluent towns and demand high design standards. Your position would mean Middletown should bury its head in the sand and not even entertain any proposals, just block everything.

Anonymous said...

Is this on schedule despite the snow stranding many people?

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Absolutely wrong on all counts Anon 7:37. Starbucks goes where the customers are.

What occurs on 66 directly affects several of those homes, and indirectly affects many others. Come on down, I'll show you around, but I might not recognize you, you being anonymous and all.

I've been accused of many things, but I can't quite own up to "burying my head in the sand."

Zoning laws exist to control development, not to accept every developer's proposal willy nilly.

BTW, isn't being anonymous, synonymous with burying your head in the sand?

Anonymous said...

We live in Old Saybrook but previously lived in Middletown so are familiar with the area. I urge you to come down to "affluent" Old Saybrook and check out the "high design standards" of our Starbucks. Ugh. An eyesore that causes traffic problems.

Anonymous said...

I will be there to oppose expansion of the MX Zone. I am against it. It is a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

C'mon can't this discussion be carried out without getting personal and attacking those who choose to remain anonymous and have different opinions? It cheapens the dialog.

joseph getter said...

About the use of an anonymous identity here (and elsewhere), my opinion is it may be needed if a post exposes corruption, discloses evidence of a crime, or if there is a fear of retribution about the post. Thus I see no reason to be anonymous if a post is an argument with someone's position.

Would Eye readers be more persuaded by Anon 7:37's argument if they knew who was making it?

joseph getter said...

The MX zones include much more than these lovely homes near Washington. Have a look at the link to "PDF Version of Zoning Map (Unofficial)" on the City PCD website: http://www.middletownplanning.com/zoningcode/pzcodetoc.html. There are stretches of MX along Broad Street, South Main, River Road, Saybrook Road, the far North End, and Washington Street west of the railroad bridge. Thus, many neighborhood stand to be impacted by these decisions.

Anonymous said...

I agree changing the MX zone is not a good idea, but I think Ed's proposal is not a good one either. Urban is the operative word here- meaning businesses should be allowed. Move to the suburbs if you wants a 100% residential neighborhood.

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Hey, wow, Anon 10:37

So self-righteous in your anonymity.

C'mon out of the closet and join the fray.

Anonymity in the digital age is the last refuge for scoundrels and cowards.

My name is Ed. What's yours?

Middletown Eye (Ed McKeon) said...

Anon 12:10

So urban means business? What about residences and existing neighborhoods. What about suburban sprawl. You're putting words in my mouth. I live two blocks from Main Street. I don't need instruction on urban living, thank you.

David Sauer said...

There must be two Bill Wilson's in town. The Bill Wilson who is the vice chair of the Republican Party and regular contributer to the Middletown Insider certainly isn't going to try to claim he has faith that our elected officials will do the right thing. This has to be another Bill Wilson

Paul said...

There are plenty of places in Middletown to put this kind of development that wouldn't change the character of that area. I love on the South side of Wesleyan and would hate to see that in this area as well. Besides, I'm only a stone's throw from South Main Street. Put the restaurants, etc in Washington St further West or on South Main.

Anonymous said...

Didn't a developer want to place a college bookstore on Pearl Street near the Saint Sebastian's Church? That may be fine & dandy but a retail store would ruin the residential atmosphere near the church. There are plenty of places in Middletown to place retail outlets. Middletown will never learn the mistakes of the past. They eliminated people living on Main Street in the 1960's & 1970's with the Riverview & Metro Square Developments now they want to do the same thing to another neighborhood. History often repeats itself.

Betsey C. said...

I find myself agreeing with Anon 11:23. There are too many vacant storefronts on Main Street. Until those are filled, why expand?

Anonymous said...

why not just post a disclaimer on this site that says opposing opinions not allowed, will not be published, and will be taken down if found?

Have a bit of honesty for goodness sakes.

Jennifer Proto said...

Expanding zoning to allow for commercial development on Washington Street (Rt. 66) will most definitely negatively impact my home (my backyard abuts two properties in the Washington St Historic District) and the rest of my neighborhood.

Strip malls appear because developers have figured out it’s cheaper to buy residential homes (especially in the wake of a home mortgage crisis) and get a zoning change than to buy an existing commercially-zoned property (for which Middletown has many – just check out those vacant store-fronts!). The developer interested in putting in a Starbucks isn’t responding to public demand (I already can walk to several downtown coffee spots) – he’s looking for tenants to foot the rent for his company’s office space located on the 2nd or 3rd floor.

Any thriving city needs a balance of residential and commercial areas. Middletown’s problem is we don’t have enough homeowners – some downtown neighborhoods have less than 14% owner-occupancy! The associated consequences of absentee landlords, blight and crime extend beyond the boundaries of the neighborhood itself to the city as a whole. Putting in a poorly conceived retail building where it does not fit will only serve to drive more local homeowners like me away.

It is my understanding that Ed’s proposal would protect current residential properties, but would also allow adaptive reuse by special exception. Thus, on a case-by-case basis it could be determined whether something like a law office could convert a residential home…but a traffic-inducing drive-thru establishment would be prohibited. His proposal makes perfect sense for protecting the fragile, historic character of Middletown’s gateway while offering some flexibility for changing times.

Bill Wilson said...

I think the Planning and Zoning department should deal with these by a case by case and not a text change that you want Ed. I have faith in those who were elected to do the right thing for the citizens of Middletown. You should have the same faith in them as a sitting elected official.

Note from the Eye: Sorry! We accidentally deleted your comment the first time around, Bill! Oops, -JA

Anonymous said...

I think architect Jeff Bianco is wrong in doing this. He is the chair of Historic preservation in town and this seems like he is selling out his own neighborhood. If this is the case and this passes, we need someone else to watch out for the historic buildings in town.

Anonymous said...

I for one appreciate the thought you've put into this question. However, throwing around terms like "cowards" and "scoundrels" hardly encourages people to shed their anonymity. This is an important issue, but as our President has said, we should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. We all share this wonderful town, we've all had a rough couple of days. Let's keep things in perspective.

Bill Wilson said...

Where is the criticism in Jeff Bianco who sits on the Middletown Preservation and Design Review Board. This is his project but also someone who has many ties in the Village district. I am just wondering why his name is being left out of this, especially now that Wesleyan has pulled out of this project.

Mr. Sauer I believe in the Planning and Zoning commission as a former member of the commission and have great respect for the job they do. I don't have that same feeling for some other officials and I am the first one to admit it.

I speak my mind and use my name either in blogs or on one of the two cable access hows on the first Friday of the month or the fourth Tuesday of the month.

Thank you for putting my comment back up. I thought I was booted for speaking my opinion that didn't agree with others on here. Good to see the First Amendment is still upheld here.

Anonymous said...

Tetragrammaton here: I disagree mildly with Ed McKeon’s attitude toward anonymous contributions.

Many people have good things to say, but no interest in getting into the arena. Abusing them for that combination of qualities (“cowards”) is pointless and unkind.

(It's good to hear the word "scoundrel" exhumed.)

That much said, a few observations:

Anonymous contributions tend to be of lower quality than signed ones, because, essentially, people don’t get dressed up to talk on the telephone. Without attribution, a writer is tempted to skimp on spelling, punctuation, restraint, and accuracy.

One guideline for anonymous contributors is “write as if you were signing the comment.”

Advice for ill-intentioned anonymes (ad hominoids, cowards, name-callers, scoundrels, shills, trolls): save your typing fingers for picking your nose.

It should be a specific understanding that anyone who submits anything anonymously to The Eye agrees to censorship and editing in the judgment of the editors. That should be the deal.

It might be a good idea if anonymes became pseudonymes: “This is the Whacked-Out Warrior. ‘Aphrodite’ misunderstood my previous comment. ‘Ground game’ referred to turning out voters, not to venison burgers.”

This would obviously permit counterfeits (identity theft), but the real "Whacked-Out Warrior" could disown the fake entries. (Let's see how many "Tetragrammatons" start making comments.)

Ed's use of the time of publication as an identifier is another example of his resourcefulness.

Last comment: many people don't get the difference between hot, passionate controversy on public issues on one hand and incivility on the other. If someone disagrees with you, it is not an insult. It is a thing called "argument" and one of the joys of living.

Anonymous said...

even if this gets 90% half the buildings you show Ed remain.

Anonymous said...

what? please restate your comment 1136am it is incomprehensible