Please note that this page is "under construction" because nothing has happened - yet - we're getting closer!
C E N T R A L P A R T O F T O W N
Global Facilities Committee or Tri-Board makeover for Weston: Not just the Central Part? To be just cosmetic? Or a wider VISION - from @2003 report, for example? Taxes? Kaestle-Boos?
To do physical planning, first you need a base map of the area to
be studied as well as one of the larger area surrounding it. In
this case, the Town of Weston, Assessor's Maps, 1" =200' and area map 1"
= 600' enlarged to show every lot. Did we mention that planning
is as much of an art as a science? We're #2: http://ctbythenumbers.info/2015/07/16/best-suburbs-to-raise-a-family-in-connecticut-most-are-in-fairfield-county/
The official Town Plan 2010 current map here.
- Town Plan 2000.
- Framework and research for About Weston non-official update 2009 HERE.
How long does an update take? We started updating our own version of the town plan @ when P&Z did!
Next - 1999 large open lots (shown above). Some developed, some purchased by the Town since then.
We think there is a need for a sepaarate plan for The Central Part of Town...since this is where all action and infrastructure is! The first step is putting together a base map...
- And how does
that bring in the issues at larger scale, i.e. CT Tax Panel?
CHANGE HAPPENS. WHO ARE SOME OF THE ACTORS?
SO WHERE IS THE TOWN PLAN TWEAK? COMING UP!
But when will it start? MAY 7, 2015 BOARD OF SELECTMEN? Rumor had it it was Feb. 3, Tuesday before "Speak
Up"...it took 2 hours to hire Dr. Lapp and see a power point
First Selectman at a Tri-Board meeting. Below, right, a narrow
vision of "The Central Part of Town." Definition - between
Norfield Road traffic lights?
FIRST YOU NEED SOME DATA...SOME ACCURATE DATA.
AND NO ONE HAS MENTIONED TRAFFIC AND INTERSECTION COUNTS NOR
CAPABILITY STUDIES OF THE LAND ITSELF - THE LESS GLAMOROUS PART OF
The Tri-Board meeting Feb. 3, 2015 (FYI - which is Selectmen, Finance
and Education - does not include P&Z) has hired a planner outside
the P&Z process. However, that consultant is familiar with
Weston's issues and data as he is the former Executive Director of SWRPA for the
past half-dozen years or so, SWRPA being former regional planning agency
to which Weston belonged since 1962.
"TODAY A LEASH LAW"...TOMORROW A DOG PARK ON LACHAT? HOW ABOUT FROMSON-STRASSLER?
Land use report: On Westonites' minds
too, and more than a dozen spoke up. Public Hearing left open. So how do you think the Nature Conservancy will react?
At the Board of Selectmen May 7, 2015...
When it comes right down to it, the answer is to think
smarter, to make lemonade out of a lemon, and remember things could
always be worse - and they will be as soon as this Session is over in
Why do I say that? Because of the usual dog and pony show as time winds down. Weston: Dogs soon
to be on leash? No one is sure yet the further subtractions expected
from our not so grand Grand List by HB6851 ideas plus SB1's new taxing
powers for COG's...
Creating a Strategic Plan for Weston's Future - Phase ONE
Eager to get direction, or see that someone knew what was up, those present did not quite get it, to be polite.
We left the Selectmen's meeting after three hours (including the
early start for Public Hearings) so we don't know what happened
got word on May 15th that the Selectmen had approved funds release to
complete necessary work on homestead heating system. Don't know if they took any action on the
Gun Ordinance. Or tax refunds. Or what the First Selectman
wanted to update folks on.
IT PAYS TO READ THE WEBSITE MEETINGS LIST! THE 7PM MEETING PRIOR TOOK AN HOUR...
Considering that the Town Attorney was present, we think, the Executive Session must have been substantive.
Of the three significant topics on the agenda (other than the usual
appointments/resignations, refunds, minutes), two (#1 and #3) directly
involved the "central part of town..."
- Town Attorney present to review Dog Ordinance? Leash
law? Pooper Scoopers? At the Selectmen Dog Ordinance coming
up for "second reading" - although I can't recall when I've seen
anything before this (the first reading - but maybe they aren't
referring to the public doing the reading)...
- Then there is the Godfrey Road Bridge, which is going to be replaced in the Spring - bus routes will have to change?
- And then, almost last, the report of how the Lights
Committee made out so far. There will have to be remediation at at
least one neighbor's property, as the testing did not meet the absolute
TRI-BOARD MEETING FEB.3, 2015 DISCUSSES ISSUES THAT AFFECT GROWTH - VOTE FOR ENTERTAINING DISCUSSION OF CHANGE
Demographics report in power point; FORUM article reporting on it.
WMS LIBRARY (Finance, left, Selectmen, center, analysis, right).
Tri-Board meeting at WMS Library: Board of Selectmen votes for
planning study, Board of Finance questions it and they compromise on wording.
Finance Board member questions meeting action legality.
Apparently we all, as an entry point for discussion, need to analyze the latest NESDEC numbers...
WE WATCHED ON OUR COMPUTER UNTIL @9:30PM...
The Board of Education had a report plus power point that they
didn't show because of time constraints. It, the report, as discussed at previous Board of Education workshop, is posted here:
"WHAT IF" DISCUSSION: RESPONSE TO SELECTMEN'S LETTER.
Further discussion by the Board of Education...in advance
of Tuesday, Feb. 3rd...a break after 2 hours or so and they will be on
to the budget next.
BOARD OF ED BUDGETS IN OUR DRG COMPARISON - IN THE FORUM, GREAT STORY!!!
We are still processing all the tons of info we gleaned Thursday at a
6pm Board of Education workshop on space needs, occasioned by this letter, sent after Dec. 22, 2014 Selectmen's meeting. Photos above from a
devoted and serious Board of Education, Jan 22 in the midst of budget workshops, working through the numbers,
trying to come to grips with what space might actually be available for
the town as well as the Senior Center.
Tune in for the Tri-Board
Meeting Thursday Jan. 27, 2015 on Channel 78 or watch it streaming (if
the WMS can get their system to work).
OMG! No January 27th open meeting at 7:30pm at the WMS Library because of "blizzard" - re-scheduled. Feb. 3 : Watched it on live streaming from the Board of Education website.
- Above is a big locomotive, perhaps representing the Town
administration. It is headed somewhere. But the general
public has not seen the train's schedule.
- How much money does Weston have to spend in order to pay
for needs the Town has, and how much can we spend, separately, on
Schools? Are there alternatives? What's the plan?
- When the Town approved the $79 million bonding in Nov.15,
2001 it was understood that we needed to keep an extra large fund
balance to maintain a AAA rating. Is this still the case13 plus
years later? How much do we owe, much of it on that bond,
now? Page 279 of this report
says $56 million plus. Grand list growing slowly. With so
many questions still out there about what is going to be proposed for
new bonding, it is more than time for a little "transparency..."
- How do you measure the cost impact of having to supply infrastructure balanced against the benefit...is there any?
2015 LONG SESSION BIGGEST STORY? Department of Revenue Services report on new taxes: http://www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?Q=567762&A=1463
So what happened to the various parts of SB 1 ? WESTON MIGHT MAKE OUT OK BECAUSE OF FORMULA!
On May 18, 2015 this SUBSTITUTE was recorded: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/FC/2015SB-00001-R000844-FC.htm
Background newspaper reports from Darien Times:
Substitute Senate Bill No. 677, Public Act No. 15-57 - Its purpose as a
Proposed Bill: To encourage the use of incremental property taxes to
construct public infrastructure, to promote development and
redevelopment opportunities and to expand municipal tax bases. And a surprise... http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB7019&which_year=2015
Which ended up as...
An Act Establishing Tax Increment Financing Districts: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/ACT/PA/2015PA-00057-R00SB-00677-PA.htm
An Act Concerning the Minimum Budget Requirement - sHB7019
We follow the Planning & Development Committee, for the
most part - but other Committees such as Education make a big difference
for Weston, too. What's up with MBR? How about this...from the ABOUT TOWN column draft for June 18, 2015 edition of the FORUM:
...Just when I had been wondering whether
Weston would ever catch a break in Hartford, at the Legislature, it may
actually have happened!
IT PASSED! MINIMUM BUDGET REQUIREMENT: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/ACT/PA/2015PA-00099-R00HB-07019-PA.htm
Although I might be a bit premature, some very good news may
be in the offing. Apparently no one, including proponents of the
facet of “substitute HB7019” that relates to “MBR” (“minimum budget
requirement”), can say for sure. So I’ll whisper this -- we may
have a big win!
“MBR” is something that has always confused me. It
would seem to be a good example of the kind of bureaucratic alphabet
soup that is often seen whose main effect is to confuse those wanting to
actually understand what government is up to. You can fling about
initials until you are blue in the face in our blue state, and
seemingly never run out of government activities that match up. So
what is “MBR?”
Until now the State has not provided school boards with a
great deal of motivation to seek out efficiencies in their
budgets. Towns could only request approval from the State
Department of Education for MBR reductions based on a melding of
increases in efficiency and reductions in enrollment. This new
bill, which as this column is being written appears likely to take
effect on July 1, 2015, seemingly removes all limits on how much school
budgets can be cut in high performing school districts.
Exactly what does “high performing” mean? As indicated
in an analysis by the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, it
means having a “District Performance Index” (DPI) in the top 10%.
“DPI” being based on mastery tests in reading, writing, and mathematics
given in grades 3 through 8 and 10 or 11, and science in grades 5, 8,
and 10 or 11. Under sHB7019 districts in the top 10% are excused
from meeting MBR standards. Period.
So Weston would seem to have received a budget “hall pass”
from the Legislature to be creative in making cuts. Will our Board
of Education see this as an opportunity? And just as
significantly will this law provide a mechanism we have all been hoping
for to lessen the paperwork burden on our educators and let our teachers
BACKGROUND: Our own thinking...
IS IT LEGAL FOR A TOWN TO ZONE FOR INCREASING ITS TAX BASE AND USE EMINENT DOMAIN TO TAKE PROPERTY IF NECESSARY?
Yes, it is, especially in "redevelopment" areas. Of
course, one person's "blighted property" (a requirement for a "taking")
is another persons home. Historical redevelopment included
rezoning poor neighborhoods for industrial
development and discouraged home ownership.
Could the Supreme Court overturn the Kelo decision?
By Colin A. Young, The DAY
Published June 22. 2015 7:01PM
Updated June 23. 2015 9:29AM
New London — Ten years ago today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a
ruling that has been called “unpopular” and one in a list of “mistakes
of political judgment.”
And that’s just from the justices who decided the case.
Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the court’s majority opinion in
Kelo v. City of New London, upholding the New London Development
Corporation’s use of eminent domain to seize property in the name of
economic development, has said there is no doubt the Kelo decision was
the most unpopular opinion he wrote in his 34 years on the U.S. Supreme
“Indeed, I think it is the most unpopular opinion that any member of the
court wrote during that period,” the now-retired justice said in a 2011
Stevens also acknowledged he made a mistake in interpreting previous
case law that related to Kelo, though he said the correct interpretation
would not have changed his vote.
...So if a Supreme Court decision is acknowledged to be wildly unpopular
even by the justice who wrote the opinion, and polls show a majority of
the public disagrees with the decision, might the Supreme Court
overturn its ruling?
“What we can decide, we can undecide,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a
decision in another case handed down by the court on Tuesday...story in
Fort Trumbull primed for development, RCDA says
By Colin A. Young, The DAY
Published June 22. 2015 6:55PM
Updated June 23. 2015 9:29AM
New London — To the naked eye, Fort Trumbull may look today like a
barren tract of land that has not seen much progress in the decade since
the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of eminent domain by the city and
its development corporation to make way for major projects.
But the Renaissance City Development Association, formerly the New
London Development Corp., says the peninsula is primed for development.
“It’s ready to go,” John Brooks, RCDA’s Fort Trumbull development manager, said.
The electric, water and sewer utilities have been upgraded and buried
underground, roads in the former neighborhood have either been fixed or
entirely rebuilt, and the land has been rid of environmental
contaminants, Brooks said.
“Much of that would have to get done if any residential, hotel, that
type of development is going to occur,” he said. “Just to redevelop the
area, you would have to have a lot of infrastructure built and in place.
The streets that were there before were inadequate for handling the
In total, about $75 million has been spent to make the 90-acre area
covered by the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan ready for a
developer to break ground on a project, Brooks said...story in
For lead plaintiff, ‘What they did was wrong then, and it’s still wrong today’
New London DAY
Published June 21. 2015 6:59PM
Updated June 22. 2015 8:43AM
From her home in Groton, Susette Kelo can look across the
Thames River at New London and see the peninsula where her little pink
house once stood in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood.
The land remains vacant to this day. Her old garden plot now grows only
weeds. Feral cats have taken up residence where Kelo and others once
lived. Though some of the land at Fort Trumbull has been cleaned of
contamination, some roads have been replaced and the utilities have been
upgraded, virtually none of the promised developments have come to
“Seventy-eight million dollars they wasted down there pushing dirt
around,” Kelo said in an interview last week in New London. “And for
what? Roads to nowhere, sidewalks to nowhere.”
A decade after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the city and its
development corporation could legally take Kelo’s home and 14 other
properties in the working-class neighborhood to make way for a luxury
hotel, office space and parking lots, she reflected on her experience as
the "Kelo" in the famous Kelo v. City of New London case.
From Kelo's perspective, the city and the New London Development Corp.
took hers and others' homes away to create a "HIP little city," which
she says stands for "higher income people..."
Story in full: http://www.theday.com/local/20150621/for-lead-plaintiff-what-they-did-was-wrong-then-and-its-still-wrong-today
Take from the poor ("Motel 6") and give to the rich ("Ritz-Carlton")
From The New London DAY's article about tenth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court Kelo v. New London case. Property rights was the issue.
...Wesley W. Horton,
the Hartford attorney who wrote the briefs and argued the case on the
city's behalf before both the U.S. and Connecticut supreme courts,
believes people's anger over the Kelo case has been misdirected.
"It seems to me people are focusing far too much on coming up with a
bright line," he said. "If it's for private economic development it's
bad, but as long as the city owns it, it's good. If a road was to run
through Mrs. Kelo's house, no one would have said a word."
There should be scrutiny whenever condemnation is used to take property,
Horton said, even when it's for a more accepted public use like a road
or a school.
In the New London case, the development plan for Fort Trumbull was
evidence that there was no pretext, he said, proof that the intent was a
stronger city tax base.
"The anniversary is a chance for people to reflect on what really is the
precedential value of this case, and the precedential value is it put
all kinds of restrictions on all kinds of condemnations," Horton said.
"So why are we focusing laser-like attention on one kind of
Michael Joplin, who was president of the NLDC for more than a decade,
including in 2005 when the Kelo decision was made, said that for the
development corporation and the city, Fort Trumbull was always about
improving the city's tax base.
"It was quite
obvious that the financial structure of the city had to be radically
changed and that it was time for real action," he said, adding that the
Rowland administration's decision ultimately to pump more than $120
million into the neighborhood was evidence that the state was of like
Now, a decade after the Kelo decision, most of Fort Trumbull is barren.
Significant public improvements like new roads and sidewalks,
streetlamps, improved drainage and brownfield remediation have occurred,
but for the most part, the commercial development envisioned hasn't
happened. Pfizer did build its global headquarters but then vacated it a
decade later, just as the tax breaks it had been granted were expiring,
further exacerbating hard feelings.
Story in full: http://www.theday.com/local/20150620/need-to-boost-new-londons-tax-base-lost-in-fight-over-eminent-domain--
OLR Bill Analysis -
SB 1045 (File 661, as amended by Senate "A")*
AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL PLANS OF CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT.
This bill extends, from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016, the deadline by
which municipalities must comply with the statutory requirement to
update their plans of conservation and development (plans of C&D) to
remain eligible for discretionary state funding. By law, these plans
must be updated at least once every 10 years.
The bill requires municipalities to identify in their plans of C&D
the general location and extent of areas where sewer systems exist, are
planned, and are to be avoided. The requirement applies to plans
scheduled for adoption on or after July 1, 2015. In identifying these
areas, municipalities must consider the existing requirements (1)
applicable to municipal plans of C&D and (2) concerning priority
funding areas (see BACKGROUND). Current law allows municipalities to
include recommendations for the general location and extent of sewer
systems in their plans.
The bill also makes technical changes.
*Senate Amendment “A” (1) extends, by one year, the deadline for
municipalities to update their plans of C&D and (2) makes a
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage - not yet (5-22-15)
Amendment one: http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=SB1045&which_year=2015
Underlying bill: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/BA/2015SB-01045-R000661-BA.htm
From the same source as CT21...don't judge a book by its cover, and Ex-Gov. Rowland started this project, IIRC.
Why isn’t Weston selling?
By Patricia Gay on May 6, 2015
At various meetings in the past few months in Weston, concerns have been
raised by town officials and the public, wondering why property sales
are down in town and why more families aren’t choosing to move to Weston...story in full: http://www.thewestonforum.com/47742/why-isnt-weston-selling/
OPPORTUNITY DEFINITION/METHODOLOGY: Weston, at right, is centralized according to Trinity College study: http://trendct.org/2015/04/14/commentary-why-mapping-opportunity-matters/
Bethany CT planning of a financial nature: 5-year example
What's in a Plan? Is it physical, fiscal or tables/matrices developed as the result of Committee work?
Required reading for any Westonite is the follow up to the Domnski/Oakrock Weston Environmental Resources Manuel - the Weston Water Resources Guide.
CRAFTING A "STRATEGIC PLAN" (NOT A REDEVELOPMENT PLAN?) FOR WESTON'S FUTURE - QUESTIONS: Link to part of New London DAY story.
they sell tickets to Planning and Zoning meeting tonight, June 8,
2015? They should have, as the "mission statement" got a working over!
How far can or will the Town of Weston push their "exemption" from
zoning on Town owned property? With P&Z Co-Chair. now, not too
far, one might think.
Is it the job of either the Planning and Zoning Commission or the Board
of Selectmen OR any new body to take it upon themselves to act like the
New London Redevelopment Commission and TAKE property
of lesser value to reward others who promise high valuation and grand
list growth on the redeveloped property? Discussion of "tax base" not in the "Mission Statement" - but a sub-committee might be in charge of this...
Remember Kelo decision from the Supreme Court? "The specter
of condemnation hangs over all property," said Justice Sandra Day
O'Connor in a compelling dissent. "Nothing is to prevent the state from
replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall
or any farm with a factory."
- How things look - built environment - is important to Westonites.
- What was our thinking at the time the Town Plan was done prior to 2010?
This device below wanted to be interviewed too, but couldn't prove Weston residency...
INTERVIEWS: Some questions...some may call them
quibbles! Perhaps when we see the revised "Mission Statement" as
it was reworked prior to the next Selectmen's meeting when interviews proceed, some of the
items below will be answered...
- How do ethics in government laws apply to this ad hoc body? Especially with a contested Board of Selectmen race coming up?
- Do you see a major problem ahead with record keeping,
especially for the projected three (3) subcommittees? Minutes of
these sub-committees will probably read "came to order, minutes approved
from last meeting, discussion ensued, meeting adjourned." F.O.I.
if no info about what was discussed? We see a problem with
this...how much will be conducted via e-mail? Via telephonic
- There already is the question in my mind that this is a
quasi-governmental body - will it be an "in-crowd" bunch of
appointees? Will there be spots for unaffiliated voters? Oh,
well, maybe it is just a way to get a new generation of residents
involved in running our volunteer form of government! Keep tuned
in (see below) as the collection of longer-time residents open to change
and newer arrivals who picked Weston because it is the way it is go
through the process...according to the FORUM 7-2-15 page two recap of
Board of Selectmen, interviews to resume after summer vacation...but things change.
- Nope - vacation is over, 37 interviewed and decision due at Sept. 17th meeting of the Selectmen...
Selectmen's Meeting Thursday September 3, 2015 - no decision until next Selectmen's meeting when all three will be there.
The last 2 - making a total of ...37 according to my count...
Selectmen's Meeting Thursday August 20, 2015 - decision Thursday, Sept. 3rd...or the 2nd, a Wednesday, so that all members of the Board of Selectmen may participate.
Eight more names...Faith Florer (did not show - on
vacation but not at phone when Selectmen called), Dough Olin (in the
Vineyard on speakerphone), Thomas Glass, Bill Douglass, Elena Haliulin,
William McKinney (did not show), Anita Dinwoodie, Mark Davis
How close are they to a 5-5-5 balance? Questions
of procedure to select 15 members (38 to have been interviewed as of
Thursday August 20th end of meeting, including vice-chairs):
What kind of basic packet or links to information should
everyone who serves on a Committee, Board or Commission receive? Some thoughts below...
- Code of Ethics?
How about the Town Plan?
links to Dominski-Oakrock and/or the Weston Water Resources Guide?
Rules of Order for running meetings?
How about rules regarding
posting notices of meetings, keeping minutes - and what constitutes a
meeting (i.e. quorum)?
Will they have online meetings via video
conferencing or Skype? How can the public watch these?
- F.O.I.A. - the link here: http://www.aboutweston.com/FOI.html
can see that we are concerned that rules are observed for open meetings
PLUS not doing anything that gets the Town of Weston in trouble with the
F.O.I.A. - and those who might bring challenges - we note that this can and did happen to Weston not that long ago.
Selectmen's Meeting Thursday, July 30, 2015 - First candidate sounds like...publisher of Weston Magazine?
STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE INTERVIEWS CONTINUE - neither co-chair.
present - Chair. of P&Z sits in for Vice-Chair. First
Selectman notes that as we heard it, changes that go too far from what
Weston is right now not a good thing - but I suppose with a group of
statistics folks, PR people and all smart cookies this shouldn't be
necessary...you could tell that the Board of Selectmen is beginning to
grasp for the 5-5-5 mix we had suggested would be perfect (plus it was
implied that everyone who wanted to participate in sub-committees would
be welcome). More to come August 20th...decision Sept. 3rd
Selectmen's Meeting Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - Item #9.
STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE - CO-CHAIRS TO BE FROM P&Z AND SELECTMEN (second set of interviews)
Fourteen (14) Westonites of all sizes and ages as well as the full range
of time spent living here - from just moved in to lifetime (almost) sat
for their interviews.
This second night included experts in: Business, real estate,
management (of town commissions, budgets), technology, municipal debt,
CEO, education administration, home office consulting, regional affairs,
consensus building, communication, planning, history of Weston,
attorney and longest in residence here! Co-Chair. must be thinking
("Is it reasonable to eliminate anybody?") and there is yet another
bunch of 15 waiting to be interviewed in a third grouping! Need to
hold over interviews until that segment of the population that is away
on vacation returns, with final decision perhaps September 3rd...
Special Selectmen's Meeting June 15, 2015
first group of 6 had a fireman, a dad, a consultant, an attorney, a
media specialist and a real estate agent. Co-Chair. is impressed
and so is 2nd Selectman.
STRATEGIC PLANNING COMMITTEE - CO-CHAIRS TO BE FROM
P&Z AND SELECTMEN
15 total members meeting for two years and
coming up with...one-year renewals if necessary; remind you a bit of the long titled group w/subcommittees
dealing with a non-sewer solution for schools? Is our
"Sustainability Study" is what we should be doing, too, perhaps
first? This link to ABOUT TOWN'S "starter" project...