About 30 people turned out for the District 7 POCD workshop in the Cone Room at town hall on Tuesday night.
Included in the mix were residents from neighborhood surrounding Greenwich High School. (Their concerns are reflected in the list below.)
Director of Planning and Zoning Katie DeLuca said there are four ways a plan gets implemented in Greenwich.
“The cheap and easy way is the zoning regulations,” she said, referring to the fact the commissioners are volunteers who go through the zoning regulations to make sure applications comply.
Second, plans emerge from the the Capital Improvement Program. However, she said, “Every year there is only a finite amount of resources.”
The third way is through public-private partnerships such as the Greenwich Pool at Byram Park.
Lastly, she said plans can be made possible through grants.
DeLuca said the Dept of Public Works recently sent out an RFP for work to be done on Greenwich Avenue.
“The RFP was sent out and they said, ‘Let’s figure out, once and for all, what we need to do with Greenwich Avenue?’ It needs to be paved. Do we just pave it, re-stripe it and be done with it? Or, do we take up the whole road, fix all the infrastructure underneath, create porous pavement where necessary, create tree wells where necessary, appropriate electrical resources where necessary. Money. Money. Money. Money,” she said. “If you’re mind’s not thinking that way, it should.”
DeLuca said the last POCD was in 2009, but that she had studied all the preceding plans, and noted they shared four basic themes: “We are predominantly a residential community and want to stay that way. We want to support our business environment, protect our natural and cultural resources. And we want housing diversity,” she said. “I don’t suspect those four things will change or that we want to become like Stamford or White Plains.”
DeLuca said the community needs to envision Greenwich’s future and the best example is the Post Road corridor.
“We do want housing, bike lanes and pedestrian safety, but we don’t want density and we don’t want to push traffic to the signalized intersections so much, because then you push traffic into residential neighborhoods,” she said.
“Something needs to give. We need to figure out what that is. It can’t be the Planning department. It can’t be the First Selectman. It can’t even be the RTM even though you are the ones to approve the POCD,” she said. “We need to ask the community as a whole.”
Ms. DeLuca conducted the workshop in the same format used by consultant, John Houseal, of Houseal Lavigne, Associates, a firm based out of Chicago. The tab for the consultants, for the year and a half process is $175,000.
First she asked everyone to write down three top issues that face the town, which resulted in a list of about 40 concerns.
Later she asked attendees to say, if money was not an object, what they would tackle first if it was their decision.
The top priorities were similar those from the January POCD workshop led by consultant Consultant John Houseal (see below).
Concerns from District 7 POCD Workshop Feb 27
- Parking & traffic: 17
- Real estate taxes: 15
- Loss of historical buildings / tear downs 14
- Impact of state economic policy on the town: 9
- Lack of traffic enforcement on Hillside Road: 8
- Eversource project: 8
- Aging infrastructure: drainage, storm drains, utilities 5
- Town disregarding agreements with neighborhoods, specifically with the Greenwich High School: 6
- Environmental issues on public school fields: 6
Though the issue of empty retail stores on Greenwich Avenue didn’t make the list at this workshop, one resident lamented the situation, saying, “Shopping on Greenwich Ave is less attractive to residents and attracts out-of-towners. All the stores are high-end and luxury. They drove out the hardware store, which would be useful to have. We don’t need another expensive women’s boutique.”
Concerns that emerged previously at the January workshop led by Mr. Houseal at Cole Auditorium at Greenwich Library.
- Traffic: 25
- Affordable housing: 20
- Historic preservation: 19
- Zoning and building regulations: 13
- Parking: 13
- Keeping taxes low: 13
- Over development: 11
- Energy management planning: 11
- Aging infrastructure: 10
- Drinking water supply: 10
- Federal RR Administration bypass: 8
- Preserve and acquire open space: 7
- Outdated school facilities: 7
- Shrinking grand list: 7
- Cardinal stadium rehab and lights: 5
On the Town of Greenwich website, there is a link to all things POCD.