May 2, 2019
Zoning implements plans.
Weston’s original Town Plan dates from 1969. Zoning regulations were updated the very next year.
So might we expect some changes to our current zoning regulations in the near future? Will some result from mandates emanating from Hartford?
The answer appears very likely to be “yes.” For one thing, “cluster zoning” must be mentioned now. Two-acre zoning is no longer the standard for places without sewers or public water supply. That standard having been reduced slightly.
But this isn’t bad news for Weston. Why? Because almost all potential building lots in town have been spoken for. We’re pretty much fully built up.
A related question is how might Weston grow in population? And do we want this to happen?
Might higher densities be allowed near the center of town?
The main concern in that regard figures to be avoiding over-burdening the groundwater supply. And likewise with respect to septic systems that would serve potential developments in that area.
And before any such ideas gain acceptance we must be certain that neighbors, and their natural environment, are protected. From an aesthetic standpoint, and even more importantly with respect to their health and well-being.
How can this be assured? Through a new section or two in the Zoning Regulations. These would tap into the thinking underlying our present subdivision rules and regulations regarding “natural characteristics.”
I am optimistic that such considerations will be taken into account by our municipal officials. That optimism stems in part from the excellent public outreach undertaken in the ongoing Town Plan update process.
And something is new this time. Our Selectmen are actively participating in the Plan update process. It is perhaps another stroke of good fortune that this Board of Selectmen includes a former member of the Conservation Commission and a former Chair of Planning & Zoning!
Special permit regulation was introduced in Weston in 1970. The Town then proceeded to exempt itself from all zoning requirements on its own property.
Per Section 8-24 of the State Statutes, though, proposals that would affect Town-owned land in any of a great many specified ways must be presented to the Planning & Zoning Commission, which would provide its opinion in the form of a report. And if the report reflects a negative vote by P&Z on the proposal, the matter would be sent to Town Meeting where a simple majority can overrule the Commission’s position.
Also in 1970 the then new regulations provided for “Neighborhood Shopping Centers,” with site plans being required for approval to be granted. Perhaps it would be a good idea for zoning regulations to be updated in 2020 to better reflect present-day traffic flow in our town center area. Perhaps consideration should even be given to providing some separation between those access routes used by cars and by trucks.
Generally speaking, it seems to me that Weston’s town center area provides multiple opportunities for creative zoning, involving various parcels of land, buildings, and potentially vacant schools as well.
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