Radar Screen

On the radar screen this week is a new organization formed in June of this year whose stated aim is to reduce local authority over planning and zoning by enacting statewide zoning reforms.

The reforms being proposed will be on the agenda in the state’s next legislative cycle.

The zoning reform organization, called Desegregate Connecticut, says some zoning laws perpetuate racial segregation and is pushing for reforms ranging from eliminating the “character” consideration in housing applications, to standardizing the permitting and hearing procedures statewide.

The organization’s founders believe that arguing against a housing application because it’s inconsistent with a community’s “character” has sometimes become code for racism and classism and that there should be one uniform set of regulations for the entire state.

Opponents argue that this is a local control vs. state control issue. That it is local control of zoning regulations that keeps places like Greenwich with open space, hiking trails, parks, trees, and lots of green. Opponents also feel it is Greenwich’s control of zoning that stops it from becoming even more crowded, keeps it peaceful and safe, protects its wetlands, and supports the quality of town schools.
Dismantling all of that is not something that well-run towns or local leaders seem eager to do.

In our town, where Planning & Zoning and protecting open space are taken very seriously, this is legislation to keep on your radar screen.

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