Katie DeLuca, the town’s director of Planning & Zoning, stopped by the Retired Men’s Association last week to discuss the 2019 Plan of Conservation and Development, and how it will be implemented.
The POCD is essentially a blueprint for the future. It’s a community vision that guides Greenwich both physically and economically, and sets new policies that direct future growth and development. It also helps aide town leaders in coming up with strategies to make thoughtful decisions for the community.
The plan is written by residents, and after months of workshops and meetings, it was finally approved last December.
DeLuca talked about the importance of the plan, which is put together every 10 years.
“People don’t tolerate change well in this town. So what do you do when you go to the public and say, ‘We have this great town, what should we do about it,’ and the answer is, ‘Nothing, it’s great, just keep it the same,'” she told the crowd. “That’s great, but you can’t keep things the same by doing nothing. You do have to recognize that we have to have some turnover, some growth, and we have to keep things moving in order to stay a top community.”
The vision statement of the plan is, “To preserve Greenwich as a premier residential community by enhancing our exceptional neighborhoods, schools, environment, culture and recreational amenities while focusing investment in the town’s infrastructure, school facilities, storm resiliency measures, and the downtown core as the means to increasing the town’s value.”
The structure of the plan is based around six guiding principles: to preserve community character and sense of place; to develop housing opportunities for the future; to provide top quality educational facilities; to sustain and improve the natural environment and landscape; to maintain economic vitality and thriving commercial centers; and to provide the best quality infrastructure, municipal facilities, cultural institutions and health services.
“With any good plan, it’s only as good as the implementation,” DeLuca added, noting that implementation has its challenges because of a decentralized government with a lot of moving parts.
Generally, the plan is carried out through zoning regulations, and the budget process, as all capital projects that are put forth must be in compliance. But DeLuca said the town is “looking to do something slighly different” with the 2019 plan.
“What we’ve heard for many years through outreach is that there’s no planning in planning and zoning; there’s no coordinated approach. Who’s in charge?” she said.
As part of the implementation, there are three action items: priority, vision and education.
Priority action items, DeLuca said, are things that are tangible — for example, updating lighting or signage regulations in town.
Vision items deal with the promotion of events that are going on around town. Education involves perhaps explaining how zoning regulations work to realtors, or working with the historical society to educate people on what the town is doing with historical structures.
DeLuca said the town must work together to better coordinate between the various town bodies.
DeLuca gave a current example of how a group comprised of members from the RTM Architectural Review Committee, town tree warden, Department of Public Works, town Tree Conservancy, Greenwich Green & Clean, Planning & Zoning, and the state of Connecticut, are meeting to try and figure out how to enhance greenspace along the Post Road corridor.
Additionally, the Planning & Zoning Commission has planned quarterly meetings, and will report annually to the Representative Town Meeting on how the implementation process is going. Bi-annually, P&Z will go to the RTM to confirm that the town is still aligned and on track with the POCD.
“I think how you add value to a community that already has such tremendous value, is you continue to work together and you have great communication and you continue to work on creating this sense of place,” DeLuca said. “I think with this new effort that we’re putting forth as starting to work on being the point group on how to get projects planned for and effectuated in town, we’re taking baby steps along that path. We have checks and balances in place, and we want to make sure that we’re doing right by the community.”
The entire RMA video can be viewed at greenwichrma.org. For more information on the POCD, go to greenwichct.gov.