“Let’s worry LESS about protecting the individual property owner in their quest to maximize their land values, and let’s worry MORE about balancing the needs of our community.”
The Republican members running for P&Z are typically pro-development, hiding within the language of “protecting property rights of owners”. I will follow up more later but REPUBLICAN FRED RICH (previously on P&Z, but not re-elected last election; his wife is also running for re-election as Woodstock treasurer unapposed) & Republican Dexter Young (currently on P&Z running for re-election; his son excellent engineer also a principal of CME Engineers, a local company working with many developers) voted to approved the Pulpit Rock Development, which included nine (9) amendments by the P&Z board!?!? Pulpit Rock Road was a flagrant example of the “good old boy” network trying to push a completely unacceptable development through PZC when development applications were obviously flawed. It was not so much a question of needing new P&Z rules as it was a question of FOLLOWING THE EXISTING RULES!!
Some examples of past Republican Control of PZC are:
(1) incomplete developer plans being accepted for review,
(2) accepting LATE applications,
(3) NEVER forcing the developers to completely address or answer citizen’s comments and/or outside engineering comments,
(4) utilizing/hiring “weak” consultant engineers to review developer plans for P&Z – allowing questionable development to occur,
(5) allowing public safety concerns with traffic to NOT BE ADDRESSED, and
(6) attempting to approve incomplete and flawed plans by “offering amendments” rather than having the developer/engineers rework/re-submit their complete plans and suggesting that these issues could be managed sufficiently well through the Woodstock inspection system.
All of these issues can and should be addressed by P&Z in the review of developers plans … and they can force the developer to spend additional FUNDS and P&Z can hire outside experts. Since the developer is charged for whatever outside specialists PZC needs to hire in reviewing the plans, why wouldn’t Woodstock want to hire the VERY BEST??
Trust me, Connecticut does not lack in pro-business lobbies nor does the building industry lack representation in impacting the rules and regulations governing the building process. So let’s worry LESS about protecting the individual property owner in their quest to maximize their land values, and let’s worry MORE about balancing the needs of our community. Woodstock cannot stop development through the PZC process, but Woodstock can and should raise the bar regarding the regulations which developers must meet to “slap in houses”. The Town of Woodstock, up until the least election, was seen as an easy target for developers with a pattern of “low cost, easy and fast to get through the approval process”. This has changed somewhat since the new PZC members were voted in last election.
We need to elect smart non-construction, non-development affiliated individuals to the PZC board to help us manage growth (though demographically/economically- most of the huge growth will probably not return for many, many years. How does one spell Woodstock Building Associates in Chinese anyway?)
The other big issue in managing development/growth in Woodstock is protection of wetlands through the Inland Wetlands Commission whose members are unfortunately appointed (and re-appointed) by the Woodstock Selectmen. As I understand it, Republican operatives, Charlie Snow and Dan Very, continue to lead that organization and, if the Pulpit Rock Road fiasco serves as an example, developers can laugh their way through the approval process since rarely, if ever, have wetland permits ever been denied to developers and everyone living in Woodstock KNOWS a significant amount of land within the town is considered “wet” … that is, except the ‘leaders’ of IWWA. But don’t bother hiring an engineer to explain a different prospective to them. They won’t even bother to address the comments. Why would they? One of these individuals, for the record, claimed to recognize where glaciers retreated during the “ice age”. With that amount of wisdom suppose no one should be surprised that they don’t really bother listening to others’ opinions.
Do I still sound bitter? YES SIR! It feels like watching a criminal walk around the community after seeing them rob MY house … but no one wants to enforce the rules.
Thankfully, the entire story isn’t over yet, and the best is yet to come!