Sunday, March 10, 2013

Jamming the Brakes On Reckless Development

On Monday, March 11, between 4:30 and 5:30 PM, neighbors and residents who will be affected by a proposed zoning change, will gather on the corners of High Street and Washington Streets in Middletown to demonstrate against a proposed zoning change.

If the proposed zone change is passed, and planned development takes place, the planned development will cause serious traffic issues, destroy a historic neighborhood, and lower the value of neighborhood properties.

Route 66 was recently declared one of the most unsafe highways in Connecticut.  Residents and opponents of the proposes zone change feel that the resulting development will put the roadway in virtual gridlock nearly every day.  What’s more, residents feel that vehicular and pedestrian hazards will increase, and that deadly accidents will be the result.

Neighbors have organized around the proposed change of the MX Zone in Middletown.  Local developer, Centerplan, has proposed a commercial development on Washington and Pearl Streets, including high-volume restaurants with drive-thru windows.  In order to facilitate development, Centerplan has proposed a zone change with a special exception that will make it easier for such a development to go forward.

On February 27, more than 150 residents jammed a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to protest the change.  Forty residents offered evidence that the zone change will be detrimental to neighborhoods, to Middletown’s character as a New England destination, and to the important gateways into the city.  In addition, traffic and safety issues are a major concern.
On March 13, the Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 7 PM in Middletown’s City Hall to deliberate and vote on the proposed change.



Anonymous said...

Honestly, continuing to refer to it as a "strip mall" is purposely misleading and only meant to incite people. The regulation does not permit a strip mall. It would have to be more urban, with buildings along the sidewalk. There are numerous good examples of quality urban in-fill projects. Why don't you focus on requiring a good design there instead of merely trying to obstruct. You may end up with a used car lot there, currently permitted by the zoning code.

Jen Alexander said...

Hi Anon @ 9:31 am,

I also thought that the new code did not allow "strip malls", but in fact it does.

For example, on a closer reading of the code itself, I learned that it DOES allow parking alongside and in front of the buildings if it's not possible to fit it all behind the building - and if the developer can show that it makes things better for pedestrians (a completely toothless clause, as it is entirely subjective.)

The code encourages assembling multiple properties, demolishing them and constructing large buildings in their place. That's how a developer could take advantage of the new commercial uses - otherwise the properties are generally too small, with very few exceptions.

The only requirement in the code which might dispute the "strip mall" label is the requirement for 2 stories - but there are actually lots of strip malls that have 2 stories and it does not make it "urban". For example, the Fox Run mall in Glastonbury.

-Jen Alexander

Bill Wilson said...

I agree with anonymous 9:31 am. This could turn out to be much worse than a "strip mall". You have to look at the big picture of those who own the property and those who are interesting in developing the property.

I know a number want nothing to be done. Why don't you pool your money together and buy the properties and then you can do what you want with it.