This essay was written to be sent to the Editor of Villager Newspapers for publication. I didn’t send it there because I think Jeff Gordon and others on Planning and Zoning are working very hard; these are not persons concerned solely with their own interests and they strive to do what will benefit the many rather than the few. I thought it best to publish here. I hope it prompts discussion. Thanks
Woodstock’s Planning and Zoning Commission Chair, Jeff Gordon’s essay on zoning published January 7 in the Villager Newspaper, while informational, has little relevancy to the town’s current state of zoning. Woodstock has one small “Industrial” zone in an area of 62 square miles. The remainder is labeled “Community District.” The whole of the Community District is considered mixed use. Applications for all uses are taken out under a “special permit.” Because current zoning regulations are both broad and vague, all special permits are granted.
Gordon chairs a commission that, since elected, approved an application for a large-scale development that was promptly suspended by the Army Corps of Engineers due to inherent environmental concerns. Recently, we saw this same commission approve partial paving of a scenic road with cast-off, bargain basement paving material. A town ordinance written to protect such roads from such acts was ignored by the commission. Woodstock has regulations for sub-divisions that stand as a model in the state of Connecticut because of the 50% set-aside of land. Its goal is simple: land and resource conservation. However, when our planning and zoning commission isn’t occupied with dubious approvals, they tear at the edges of the sub-division regulations calling them, “unfair.” Striving to amend or rescind the one solid zoning tool we have, the commission further undermines its core mission. The present sub-division regulations benefit us now and will continue to do so in to the future.
Rather than read theoretical essays on zoning, I’d like to see Woodstock’s Planning and Zoning commission members uphold and enforce current regulations. Beyond that, I’d like to see the commission do long-range planning, research zoning measures, hold public discussions, and develop-to-adopt adequate zoning that supports defined growth and protects all we value about Woodstock.