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Planning Board Minutes 01/04/05
Public Hearing on Backlot Development Zoning Alternatives
January 4, 2004
Tolland Planning Board
Hearing Minutes


Approximately 45 Tolland residents participated in a Public Hearing on alternatives for back lot development under consideration by the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee.  The meeting, chaired by Planning Board Chair, Steve McAlister, lasted for 2 ¼ hours.  Gloria Gery, Chair of the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee presented alternatives after Mr. McAlister defined the meeting objectives.

Hearing Objectives

§       Educate about issues and alternatives
§       Obtain resident priorities and a “sense” of the community priorities and goals
§       Determine whether the Zoning Committee should proceed with a bylaw draft to permit backlot development.

Main Points

§       Backlot development under a changed zoning bylaw would be by Special Permit only
§       Issue is being explored because of some resident interest in being able to develop lots for their children
§       The tax consequences of~back land development for back land owners who do not wish to develop their land are unclear – but taxes would most likely increase.

Resident Issues, Questions and Opinions:  High Level Summary

§       Some would like to develop lots for their children; Gloria Gery mentioned that legal lots and requirements would still have to apply because lots ultimately can be sold.  Road ownership and maintenance is critical

§       The vote on common driveways and Flag lots was negative: 6 in favor out of 45 present.  There was no support for allowing common driveways.

§       Strong sentiment was expressed for maintaining the rural character of the town was expressed.

§       Residents who bought without backlot development as an option felt strongly that such development should not be allowed in the future.

§       Recognizing numerous combinations and permutations were available, the most interest was expressed in flexible development with open space set aside requirements (Figure 4).  The major difference between Flexible Development and Mini-Sub-divisions is the requirements for access roads and whether they would be Common Driveways, Private Roads or Town Roads  The interest was in preserving Open Space and the Open Space Committee will also be addressing opportunities and vehicles to do such.

§       Sub-Division regulations could address back lot development through mini-subdivision and provide specific requirements for roads and road maintenance..  Over half attending expressed desire to review the 1988 Sub-Division Regulations.  Planning Chair McAlister agreed to establish a group to review Sub-Division Regulations which address roads and other engineering, financial and technical requirements of dividing property..  He emphasized that we cannot stop development, but can manage it. Mini-subdivisions will be considered.

§       Sub-Division Regulations can be changed by the Planning Board after conducting Public Hearings.  All minimum acreage, setbacks and frontage requirements would apply to dwellings and structures within a sub-division.  Sub-division Regulations can be apply to two or more houses.

§       While we cannot stop growth, Tolland’s zoning bylaws do not need to incent it.  Backlot development would be such an incentive.

§       Overall consensus is that the current minimum footage zoning without backlot development has been the major reason Tolland has retained its rural character and that we should “stick with it”.  Little negative feeling was expressed about “bacon strip” driveways.

§       A warning was made to be cautious with Open Space set asides and Conservation, Forest, Recreation or Agricultural restrictions.  There are many restrictions in doing such that aren’t always initially apparent.

§       Town Center development was briefly discussed; there was little or no interest expressed in changing it from its current character.

§       Former long-time ZBA Chair, Dick Pustinger, recommended not “Opening a can of worms” with this type of regulation when Sub-Division regulations could address it.


Decisions and Next Steps

The Zoning Bylaw Review Committee and Planning Board has decided not to propose Zoning Bylaw changes to  permit backlot development.  


The Planning Board will conduct a review and subsequent hearings on current Sub-Division regulations




 
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