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?  TaxesKaestle-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/
BACKGROUNDERS







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 from the 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 PLANNING

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 Hartford.
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 re:  Lachat...but 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..."
  1. 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)...
  2. Then there is the Godfrey Road Bridge, which is going to be replaced in the Spring - bus routes will have to change? 
  3. 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 "0" required.




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" DISCUSSIONRESPONSE 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.



  


THE QUESTIONS...




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 teach?




BACKGROUNDOur 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 Court.

“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 lecture.

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 full:  http://www.theday.com/local/20150622/could-the-supreme-court-overturn-the-kelo-decision--



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 development.”

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 full:  http://www.theday.com/local/20150622/fort-trumbull-primed-for-development-rcda-says





For lead plaintiff, ‘What they did was wrong then, and it’s still wrong today’

New London DAY
Colin Young
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 fruition.

“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 condemnation?"

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 mind...


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.

SUMMARY:

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 technical change.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage
- not yet (5-22-15)

OLR reports
Amendment onehttp://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.
http://ctviewpoints.org/2015/05/07/its-time-for-connecticut-to-break-its-bad-budget-habits/




Why isn’t Weston selling?

Weston FORUM
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.




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...


Selectmen's Meeting Thursday September 3, 2015 - no decision until next Selectmen's meeting when all three will be there.

  
INTERVIEWS

The last 2 - making a total of ...37 according to my count...




Selectmen's Meeting Thursday August 20, 2015 - decision Th
ursday, Sept. 3rd...or the 2nd, a Wednesday, so that all members of the Board of Selectmen may participate.

Agenda:    http://www.westonct.gov/media/file/Revised082015BOSAgenda.pdf

             

INTERVIEWS:
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...

  1. Code of Ethics?
  2. How about the Town Plan? 
  3. How about links to Dominski-Oakrock and/or the Weston Water Resources Guide? 
  4. Robert's Rules of Order for running meetings?
  5. How about rules regarding posting notices of meetings, keeping minutes - and what constitutes a meeting (i.e. quorum)? 
  6. Will they have online meetings via video conferencing or Skype?  How can the public watch these?
  7. F.O.I.A. - the link here:  http://www.aboutweston.com/FOI.html

You 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 meeting.

8 interviewed



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...
 
14 interviewed


Special Selectmen's Meeting June 15, 2015
           
This 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...



6 interviewed