Bethel to overhaul zoning rules

BETHEL -- The Planning & Zoning Commission will unveil at a Sept. 29 meeting revisions it is proposing to clarify zoning regulations.

It will seek public reaction during the meeting.

Planimetrics, the consulting firm from Avon, the town hired to help with the revisions, will run the meeting and provide a short overview of the potential changes before asking for comments.

"As a commission, we put an enormous amount of time into revamping the regulations with a consultant to make them clearer. We hope the public takes the time to review them and come out to provide input Sept. 29,'' commission chairwoman Patricia Rist said Friday.

"There is a lot to read. Overall, I think people will be pleased. These are basic regulations that not only do we use in making decisions, but they are for the public in general and ... will remove any ambiguity when they are moving forward with a project."

The regulations have not been revised for decades.

"It's a comprehensive look at the regulations in relationship to the recommendations of the Plan of Conservation and Development," town planner Steve Palmer said Friday.

The commission will vote separately, likely before the public hearing, on whether to adopt its own proposed change to building sizes on Route 6.

The new regulation would allow 7,750 square feet of floor space per acre, which could be spread out over one story or up to four stories or 50 -feet high in any number of buildings. It would make way for big-box stores not allowed in current regulations.

Much of the revisions are to clarify the language, he said, but there also are some changes to current laws. There are graphics and tables and charts as well.

For instance, the commission proposes to change the way it determines the number of lots permitted in a subdivision.

Now the regulations take wetlands and steep slopes into account when calculating the number of lots. The proposed change would also take into account the roads and open space required in the development, which could result in the same or fewer lots than present regulations allow.

"It provides a more realistic expectation of the number of lots in a subdivision,'' he said.

Another proposed change would be to create a new village center zone .

"It's an effort to preserve the historic character of the downtown residential and commercial buildings,'' Palmer said.

The proposed village zone regulations would dictate the new construction or remodeling of building exteriors in the designated area.

Palmer said the commission heard from engineers and attorneys about the changes they wanted to see and incorporated them into the draft.

"Many felt they were not clear, that there was too much room for interpretations,'' Palmer said. "We feel that we've addressed those issues."

Contact Eileen FitzGerald


or at 203-731-3333.