Town previews conservation plan
Updated 5:21 pm, Friday, February 26, 2016
DARIEN — Protections for the town’s 60 miles of serpentine coastline, enhanced access for people and boating, and increased views of Long Island Sound are among improvements in the draft of a consultant’s Plan of Conservation and Development for the town.
Planimetrics President Glen Chalder presented highlights of the plan at a special Representative Town Meeting Monday night. Planimetrics, an Avon-based general contracting company, was hired by the Planning and Zoning Board as a consultant in the development of the newly designed plan.
Chalder outlined the five-point plan, the elements of which include conditions/trends, conservation strategies, infrastructure, development and implementation.
The process to update the town’s previous plan, which was adopted in 2006, began in 2014. It was prompted by a state law stipulating that any town with a Plan of Conservation and Development older than 10 years would not be eligible for discretionary grants. The town would be ineligible effective July 1, if the current plan were not approved.
Beginning with a series of community meetings and interviews in 2014 with Darien residents, Planimetrics and the Planning and Zoning Board compiled a broad-reaching set of issues important to the community.
“We wanted to cast a wide net,” Chalder said.
The list was whittled to a first draft, first available in November, and refined until a second draft was crafted, the details of which Chalder discussed at the meeting,
Because 97 percent of land parcels in Darien are developed or committed to other uses, according to Chalder, much of the plan is focused on enhancing Darien’s existing resources.
Members of the commission and Planimetrics staff said they also hope to maintain the town’s residential character while focusing on pedestrian friendliness, especially downtown and in Noroton Heights. A shift toward pedestrian and bike friendliness and increased use of public transportation could also ease the town’s transportation issues caused by a limited number of crossings of Interstate-95 and the train tracks for motorists, Chalder said.
Also important in the plan is the funding of educational and community facilities, both of which were top concerns of polled community members. Darien is one of only 16 towns in the state with an increasing school enrollment. The plan would make a point of easing stress on overburdened schools in the district.
Each strategy outlined comes with its own set of implementation recommendations, detailing suggested courses of action and naming the individuals whose job it will be to execute the project.
The plan will be further revised by the Planning and Zoning Committee based on community comments March 8, followed by a public hearing and tentative adoption in June, ahead of the July 1 state deadline.
The full plan is available at the library, the Planning and Zoning office and at darienct.gov/townplanupdate.