After some lengthy discussion, the Middletown Planning and Zoning Commission has unanimously approved zoning text changes first submitted by representatives of Centerplan Company, now with substantial amendments. The room was once again packed with members of the public, including many students, faculty, and staff from Wesleyan.
The newly amended changes, in the eyes of the Commissioners, affords the P&Z greater authority to exercise oversight upon actual submitted proposals for development.
As these new changes alter the nature of special exceptions in MX Zones (which include the relevant section of Washington Street), Centerplan will now have to submit a development proposal to the P&Z for a special exception to go forward with their planned development (sans bookstore and in the face of continued opposition by the public). Yes, there will be another public hearing.
The Commissioners’ conversation and amendments to the amendments primarily focused on concerns presented by the public at the previous P&Z meeting, most notably the historic character of the neighborhood, traffic safety concerns, the residential setting, pollution and the environment hazards of development, and the size of developments that would potentially be allowed under the new zoning text.
The Vice-Chair of the P&Z, Nicholas Fazzino, initially presented a number of amendments to the text changes proposed by Centerplan representatives at the last meeting, and these amendments were themselves added to and amended by various members of the commission in attempts to address the above concerns. Some of the new amendments include the elimination of minimum building size requirements, the imposition of new requirements to prevent the destruction or alteration of certain historic buildings (though, according to Jen Alexander ’88, not the relevant ones), and efforts to prevent ‘bleeding’ of traffic into residential streets.
The Commission also discussed (at the suggestion of Alternate Member Elizabeth Emery) carbon footprint evaluations and operation hours restrictions, but the body ultimately decided not to require these restrictions in the zoning code but would instead pursue them by other means.
Ed McKeon’s proposed zoning text changes have been delayed yet again, until the next P&Z meeting in two weeks (7PM on March 27th, City Hall).