October 11, 2010

Mayor McCoy supports Job Growth In Vernon around exit 67-- Journal Inquirer Towns Vernon- Must have Misssed the meeting?

Journal Inquirer Towns Vernon Mayor McCoy supports Job Growth In Vernon around exit 67

VERNON — Mayor Jason L. McCoy spoke to the Planning and Zoning Commission regarding his administration’s proposed to promote economic growth in the area, to promote private job growth and expand Vernon’s tax base by correcting restrictions on a parcel off Interstate 84 at exit 67. The Town has been working to lower the local unemployment rate for area residents and keep the Town off Connecticut's Distressed Municipality list. This effort is one more step to encourage investment in the Town.

The property is a 40.5-acre parcel owned by Lee and Lamont real estate with frontage along Reservoir Road. The present regulation only permits a 40,000 square foot building footprint on the 40.5 acre piece or property.

In 2005 the PZC adopted the regulation that reduced the size of any building that could be placed on the property to a 40,000 square foot footprint. At the time the PZC restricted the size of any building it was done over the recommendation of the PZC's consultant Planimetrics. The proposal that Mayor McCoy and the Town's Economic Development Director spoke to the PZC about is the same proposal as was proposed by the consultant in 2005. However the proposal did not go back to the pre-2005 regulation.

The request by the Town Administration was done in response to the Metro Hartford Alliance bringing a distribution company to the Town. The distribution company has placed Vernon on its top three choices in Connecticut. Mayor McCoy said "this change is brought to you by the Town Administration because we did not feel it was fair to anyone to lead interested parties on, cause interested parties to waste money, waste time and cause citizens to do the same if there is no interest in the change."

Even though the in 2005 the Town Administration supported the restrictions, it is now recognized that the 2005 change created a significant fiscal impact to the area, impacted area job growth moreover due to the Town's limited land area there is a impact on the tax based. According to the Journal Inquirer Mayor McCoy leads the charge.

McCoy first explored the correction to the 2005 zoning amendment in May of this year, but asked that the proposal be withdrawn to “look at the issues … look at it and bring it back.”

At the PZC’s meeting on Aug. 19, Mayor McCoy urged the commission to correct the amendment and undo the restrictions for the good of the town’s tax base, for job growth; to keep the town off the Connecticut distressed municipality list, as well as the local economy.

The Economic Development Coordinator Marina Rodriguez and Mayor McCoy said there was “significant interest” in the parcel from a refrigeration company that wanted to build an 180,000-square-foot facility and create 140 jobs. “This project may not go at this particular site (Vernon- its competitive) , but this site without the change in this buffer zone makes it really no good for anything but skyscrapers, and a 40,000-square-foot footprint doesn’t work,” McCoy told the commission. The distributor was not proposing a sky scraper.

Council person Democrat Marie Herbst began yelling and screaming, and protesting as McCoy began speaking, saying that town officials should speak to commissions as private residents only, during public participation. McCoy corrected Herbst, as she was confused by the factual situation. Herbst apparently misunderstood a ruling by Town attorney Hal Cummings. The ruling by the Town Attorney related to a private application by a private land owner. Herbst and other council members were allowed to speak at a later meeting, only after they emphasized that they were commenting as private residents.

But PZC Chairman Lester Finkle would not acknowledge Herbst, and McCoy shouted over his shoulder to her that as mayor he was exempt from that rule in this situation because it was a Town Application, “and I’m speaking on behalf of the town, how else would the information get to the commission if not from the Mayor as the Chief Executive officer or one on the department heads.”

McCoy reiterated that there had been interest in the parcel from a company, and taxes are the only way to pay for essential services like a police, fire department, schools, roads and sanitarians.

“The legislature only gave us so many ways to raise revenue, largely based upon property taxation, that is the only way to pay for those essential services,” McCoy said. “Responsible development is something the community has to embrace or you’re just going to be forced to raise taxes or reduce services, especially considering the financial bind the State is in.”

Tundermann the Town Planner explained that the Town can utilizing “low-impact development” techniques on the parcel to minimize the flow of water runoff from buildings and pavement into the Tankerhoosen. Such development uses engineering strategies that mitigate storm water runoff, including permeable pavement, rain gardens, and grass drainage swales.

These regulations already exist in the Town regulations. McCoy supports the low impact development regulations that already exist in Vernon's PZC regulations, but Mayor McCoy has opposed turning over low-impact development in the zoning regulations to some group outside the Town, creating duplicate regulations, a position he reaffirmed Thursday, saying they “take local control away” from the Vernon residents.

Chairman Lester Finkle opened the application up to public comment, but only two individuals had a chance to speak before the hearing was continued to the next meeting on Oct. 21.

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