Letter: Home Rule for Planning and Zoning

To the Editor:

Thursday night April 29 at their regular meeting, the Easton Republican Town Committee unanimously endorsed the following resolution. This in response to the actions taking place in Hartford attempting to take Planning and Zoning out of the hands of our local government. Their goal is to have Hartford make our decisions for us. We will not stand by and watch that happen.

WHEREAS, Connecticut’s towns and cities successfully use local zoning and planning processes to balance private property rights, the community’s interests, infrastructure demands, housing needs, and economic growth; and
WHEREAS, local control and decision making by Connecticut’s towns and cities allow resident taxpayers to carefully create zoning policies that reflect the town or city’s unique geography, economy, housing market, and other elements; and
WHEREAS, local zoning and planning ensures that local officials are accountable to the taxpaying community for the decisions they make; and
WHEREAS, local zoning and planning processes give the local affected residents the greatest opportunity to provide specific, unique and important information on the potential impacts of zoning changes upon their community that only they could have knowledge of; and
WHEREAS, local public hearings enable neighbors and residents to provide beneficial suggestions, identify errors and maximize the acceptability of zoning proposals to the community; and
WHEREAS, the town of Easton is geographically unique, being home to two storage and a terminal reservoir and over four thousand acres of watershed land that are crucial to supplying most of Fairfield County with drinking water; and
WHEREAS, the town of Easton is home to over 20 family farms and is an important source of locally grown organic produce and Christmas trees; and
WHEREAS, Protecting Easton’s watershed land and preserving our family farms and our rural character are best achieved through local control of planning and zoning; and
WHEREAS, proposals have been introduced in the Connecticut General Assembly to strip local planning and zoning processes from towns and cities; and
WHEREAS, proposals have been introduced in the General Assembly to allow BY RIGHT multi-family development; and
WHEREAS, proposals have been introduced in the General Assembly to allow outside Housing Authorities within a 15-miles radius of Easton to develop affordable housing projects within our town; and
WHEREAS, BY RIGHT multi-family development can lead to exponential market value overbuilding and can cause adverse impacts to neighboring property values; and
WHEREAS, BY RIGHT such development gives outsized power to builders and non-local Housing Authorities over other property owners and prevent local Planning and Zoning Commissions from studying the potential impacts of their projects and imposing conditions upon a developer to address those impacts; and
WHEREAS, eliminating public hearings and community input on zoning matters would have unintended consequences such as, erosion of Easton’s unique rural character, ; and
WHEREAS, each Connecticut town and city already has the choice to modify its zoning ordinances to best serve the community’s interests through its local electoral process, with the assistance of elected town and city government officials; and
WHEREAS, proposals have been introduced in the General Assembly that would allow SPOT zoning for multifamily housing in single family districts, effectively bypassing local Zoning Boards; and
NOW BE IT RESOLVED that the REPUBLICAN TOWN COMMITTEE of the town of Easton, Connecticut, opposes any State Mandated, one size fits all, Zoning Legislation.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the REPUBLICAN TOWN COMMITTEE of the town of Easton, Connecticut opposes the ability of any outside housing authority to have jurisdiction over our town’s Affordable Housing plan and any similar legislation that would further overrule, remove or diminish local control and decision making related to planning and zoning or affordable housing within the town of Easton; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution shall be sent to all State Representatives and State Senators representing Easton, to the Governor, all members of the State Legislature’s Planning and Development, Finance, Transportation and Housing Committees, and to all legislators sponsoring bills that remove local control of planning and zoning and affordable housing.

Wendy Bowditch

Easton Republican Town Committee Chair

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