Town Plan nears adoption
DARIEN — Planning experts are in the final stretch before the town’s Plan of Conservation and Development goes up for adoption by Planning and Zoning.
Chalder began by outlining the purpose of the plan, describing it as an “advisory document to help guide the physical development of a community.” The plan outlines suggested methods of change in areas like maintaining/enhancing downtown, maintaining/enhancing community character, coastal preservation and economic and commercial enhancement.
In discussing the enhancement of downtown commercial districts, Chalder pointed out the potential for transforming places like Noroton Heights.
“It’s quite possible that we could transform Noroton Heights into a walkable, pedestrian-scale village,” he said. A pedestrian-friendly model may benefit Noroton Heights and the Western side of town in general, Chalder said, because traffic is worse there than on the Eastern side, which has more road crossings.
“We lag some of our peer communities in our commercial development. And we’re seeing right now the effects of the state economy and how that enhanced commercial development can really help to stabilize the local tax situation,” First Selectwoman Jayme Stevenson said, citing the governor’s proposed cuts to Darien’s Educatinal Cost Sharing grants and the resulting decision to raise the town’s mill rate by the boards of Selectmen and Finance.
Among other issues the plan seeks to address, Chalder said, is Darien’s changing age composition as greater numbers of young families are drawn to the town by the school district’s reputation and as baby boomers begin to leave because of high taxes. A recent uptick in births and school enrollments trends against other municipalities around the state.
“I think one of the key lessons from the plan moving forward is not what’s going to happen to our population or how it might change or fluctuate over time, but it’s really to keep an eye on the changing age demographics in the community.” Chalder said.
To that point, Stevenson expressed her support of welcoming young families into the community.
“Many of us are here because of the great schools and the opportunity that this community provides for public education. And just because my kids have benefited from it, I don’t want to exclude that benefit from being available to other people who might be looking at coming into our community. I’d like to make sure our community stays open and welcoming to all people. We want to accommodate aging adults so that they do have the ability to stay here, but not to the detriment of families and children,” Stevenson said
Before voting to unanimously endorse the plan as it moves forward, each of the selectman voiced their thanks to Ginsberg and Planimetrics.
“I too want to compliment you on this extraordinary work that you’ve done that’s going to guide us for the next 10 years. Particularly I want to thank the outreach, you’ve really been aggressive in trying to engage everyone in the community multiple times. I think because of that the byproduct is a terrifically comprehensive document that’s really going to help us manage the changes that are inevitably coming,” Stevenson said.
The public hearing on the Plan of Conservation and Development is at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Town Hall auditorium.