Council approves conservation and development plan

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TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

Plainville recently adopted the 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development, which went into effect on Saturday, Dec. 7. During the previous meeting of the town council, Town Planner Garrett Daigle discussed the plan and how the 2019 version differs from the 2009 POCD.

The goal of a POCD is to serve as a statement of policies, goals, and standards for the physical and economic development of the town. It also establishes guidelines and recommendations for development of land in the town, as well as informing the budget and capital improvements. A POCD, governed by state statutes, must be reviewed by the Planning and Zoning Commission and updated every 10 years.

One new aspect of the 2019 POCD is the identification of a planned development district. Daigle explained that a planned development district is essentially a new zone, and the property must be identified in the plan. Plainville has chosen the former White Oak Property, the Tyler Farms property, and the former Parsons Buick property “as sites with unique characteristics that would lend themselves to this planned development district.”

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Daigle explained that the planned development district process is a public one, and should any of the sites receive interest from a developer, the process would begin with an informal discussion with the planning and zoning commission. There would be a public hearing process, and all people within a 200 foot radius would be notified of the potential zone change.

“There are recommendations in the plan for each site that is identified. For the Tyler Farms property under possible approach, “commercial or retail development on this site would not be appropriate, although office development could be compatible with adjacent uses,” said Daigle.

Daigle said that the plan looks at several key factors, including population, housing, economics, and the development of the existing land.

According to the study, Plainville’s population growth spiked post World War II but is expected to remain constant (between 17,000 and 18,000) over the next 20 years, but the town’s population continues to grow older. The average age is expected to increase from 41.9 years old in the previous POCD to 44.7 by 2040. The older population means fewer children as household size decreased from 3.38 people per household in the 1960s to 2.32 per household in 2010.

About 60% of the housing in Plainville is single family, and the median sale price is about $200,000. The town boasts 9,730 jobs. Businesses make up about 20.6% of the tax base.

The plan is broken down into three themes—conservation related issues, development related issues, and infrastructure related issues.

Plainville has committed approximately 11% of its land for open space and continues a commitment to grow this land along the Pequabuck River Channel, the Quinnipiac River corridor, and the Metacomet Ridge corridor.

“We also identified the Farmington Canal Greenway and it will connect to open space, which meets the goals of the plan,” said Daigle. “These trails and open space corridors would promote sustainability and efficient use of resources by making sure that open space is located where people can access it and people don’t need to go out of their way to access the areas.”

In analyzing the downtown area, the report highlights a core area about a quarter mile long, which is walk-able in about 10 minutes. According to Daigle, the goal is to promote active uses in downtown and that can be better done by dividing the downtown area, currently zoned central commercial, into two zones.

“It would be a core downtown area and a fringe downtown area, and the goal of the fringe would be to allow multi-family housing,” said Daigle. “We currently allow multi-family with commercial on the bottom. Additionally to increase foot traffic, and to allow outdoor dining— I believe that would be something we’d have to work with the town council on as the sidewalks are owned by the town, they’re not privately owned.”

Public copies of the 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development are available in the office of planning and economic development, and the town clerk’s office in the town municipal center, through the town website, at the Plainville Public Library, and copies are available for purchase through the Freedom of Information Act.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@PlainvilleObserver.com.