The West Hartford Town Council passed a resolution Tuesday night to establish a working group to review zoning regulations in the central business district.
By Ronni Newton
The West Hartford Town Council has recently discussed – and rejected – two different proposals for changing the zoning in the town’s central business district, but Thursday night unanimously approved a resolution to move forward by forming a working group to discuss the regulations.
The first proposal, which had been developed by town staff, would have increased the FAR to 1.75 and allowed for buildings of up to five stories provided the upper levels were residential and other provisions were met. That proposal was withdrawn in April, and at that time the Town Council publicly stated that it would provide outreach to neighbors in the West Hartford Center area, many of whom had questions about the implications of the proposed changes.
The second proposal, which was submitted by developer Lexham West Hartford Owner LLC in August, was to increase FAR to 1.5. It was rejected after a public hearing on Sept. 27, citing a need to engage in complete and meaningful discussion with the entire community as previously promised.
The resolution passed Thursday night is the Town Council’s first step in following through with promises to communicate with stakeholders. Director of Community Services Mark McGovern said that the resolution “directs staff to conduct neighborhood outreach. We’re prepared to set up a process working with the neighbors,” he said.
A small working group, of perhaps 10 people, will be established and will include neighbors, representation from zoning, and business owners, McGovern said.
According to McGovern, the outreach will include several public meetings/forums, as well as two workshops. A “planning 101” session will be held to build a greater understanding of zoning regulations, McGovern said. According to the resolution, at least one of the workshops will be held with the Town Planning and Zoning Commission.
McGovern said that the first meeting will likely take place in early November. “We will be back in a few months with findings,” he said.
The town has been working to modify zoning regulations in the central business district for at least a year, McGovern said, and the original proposal was made in accordance with the goals and objectives of West Hartford’s own Plan of Conservation and Development.
Town Manager Ron Van Winkle said that he hopes that a new proposal will be brought to the Council sometime early next year, after the process approved Thursday has been completed.
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