PLAINVILLE — Preservation of open space and the creation of a new zoning designation to encourage guided economic development are the main goals in the town’s newly adopted plan of conservation and development.
Adopted by the Planning and Zoning Commission last month and presented to the Town Council this week, the plan covers zoning, land acquisition and provides projections to help plan for the town’s future. State regulations require that municipalities draft a new plan once every 10 years.
“Any municipality is made up of dozens of boards and commissions … but the value of the plan is I think it focuses everybody on common issues and a common vision for the future,” said Glenn Chalder, owner of Planimetics — the contractor the town hired to assist in the drafting of the document.
Town Planner Garrett Daigle said now that the plan is in place he’ll begin work on drafting new regulations and revising existing ones to comply with it.
The plan calls for the creation of a Planned Development District — a new zoning option that would allow a greater variety of uses while providing the PZC more authority to guide any development on in the new district.
The plan targets three properties to be rezoned to the PDD: the White Oak property adjacent to the Town Hall, the Tyler Mill Farm property and the former site of the Parsons Buick Company on East Street.
Planned development districts have grown in popularity around the state, Daigle said, and could allow developers to approach the town with business plans not currently permitted by existing zoning, while leaving the PZC the authority to informally meet with developers to fine tune an application.
During the presentation of the plan on Monday, Town Council member David Underwood questioned if the zone would give members of the Planning and Zoning Commission disproportionate power. Daigle responded that public hearings are required during the process.
The document also recommends reevaluating uses permitted in the downtown area to focus more on buildings with mixed uses.
The plan found that the Senior Center is already struggling to meet rising demand and lacks space at its current site to expand, raising the possibility of a relocation.
Daigle said the plan also places a greater emphasis on acquiring new open space than the 2009 Plan of Conservation and Development, particularly in the eastern side of the town along the Metacomet ridgeline. Almost the entirety of the Metacomet Trail, which follows the ridgeline through the state, is on private property.