|Wadsworth Street is at the bottom,|
parking for the Park is across the street
The Conservation Commission supported the public access, Director of Planning Bill Warner, as well as two nearby residents, opposed it, and the P&Z sided with Warner and the residents.
The developer of these 9 lots agreed to donate over 4 acres of land, mostly not suitable for building, to the city to be protected as open space. Publicly owned open space, especially that not used for active recreation (ball fields and playgrounds) is overseen by the Conservation Commission, which is composed of residents appointed by the mayor, and is advisory to the Planning and Zoning Commission. The Conservation Commission is supported by staff in the Planning Department.
The Chair of the Conservation Commission, Ellen Lukens, spoke at the public hearing, and praised the donation to the City of open space along the river. Lukens told the P&Z Commission that after careful consideration, the Conservation Commission recommended that the developer also grant a 30' easement along the western edge of the development, so that in the future the city could build a trail that would provide public access to the protected land along the river. Lukens said that the city has very little protected open space that is flat, and this trail would allow people with disabilities or strollers to gain access to the city's land along the river. The developer readily agreed to this request.
Peter and Claudia Marsello, neighbors who might be impacted by a potential future trail, expressed their strong opposition. Peter was concerned about people bothering livestock on his property and leaving garbage along the river.
Bill Warner, the Director of the Planning Department, told the P&Z Commission that his vision for the open space was different from that of the Conservation Commission. He said he wanted the open space to be an undisturbed area for wildlife, not necessarily an area where the public would walk.
The P&Z Commission approved the subdivision without the easement for access to the open space, the vote was 6 in favor, 0 opposed, Commissioner Les Adams abstained.
Before approving the subdivision itself, the Commission voted 5 to 2 to approve a waiver of the requirement that new subdivisions include sidewalks. Commissioners Les Adams and Molly Salafia voted against granting the sidewalks waiver.
Author's Disclaimer: I am providing information about P&Z meetings, as I have done since 2008, on a volunteer basis for The Eye. I am now a candidate for the Planning and Zoning Commission, and I will continue to cover P&Z until the election in November, because my motivation as a volunteer and one of my goals as a candidate is to increase community understanding of and involvement in land use decisions. The Eye welcomes coverage of P&Z (and other municipal meetings) by any correspondent, including all candidates for office; I would be thrilled to divest myself of The Middletown Eye's P&Z "beat".