Tuesday, January 12, 2021
7:30 p.m. – VIA ZOOM
Present: Toby Welles, Chairman; Dan Barrett; Chuck Cilo, Alt.; Anda Cumings; Steve Gagnon; Regina O’Brien; members of the public.
Absent: James Bacon, Alt.
Also present: Aimee Pardee, Land Use Director; Julia Pemberton, First Selectwoman
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.
I. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – Meeting of December 8, 2020
On the motion of S. Gagnon and the second of A. Cumings, the Commission voted unanimously to approve the 12/8/20 Meeting Minutes.
1. Referral from Zoning: 32 Lee Lane. Alexander Cooper and Nicole Jacoby (owners, Andrew Bartolotta, Studio Bartolotta LLC (agent). Request for a Special Use Permit for an Accessory Apartment. Public Hearing scheduled for January 13, 2021.
Chairman Welles reviewed the request for a Special Use Permit noting it could be included in accessory apartment inventory.
On the motion of T. Welles and the second of D. Barrett, the Commission voted unanimously to send a positive referral to the Zoning Commission as it comports with the Town Plan of Conservation & Development.
2. Kenneth Swenson & Robin Lamont Swenson, 36 Cross Highway. Request for modification of scenic road to install fence along right of way.
Mr. Swenson was present via ZOOM. Chairman Welles reviewed the request to install a fence and stating that per GIS maps, the town right-of-way extends 15-16 feet into the property from the road. The house starts at 20 feet in from the road.
Mr. Swenson described the proposed fence and the desire for increased privacy from road noise. Flags are placed at the proposed edges and Commissioners will conduct individual site inspections. Discussion will continue at the next meeting.
3. Referral from Board of Selectmen: Proposed Blight Ordinance.
Members of Enhancing Redding’s Future (ERF) were present via ZOOM. Chairman Welles noted initial concerns stating that key provisions to trigger the application of the ordinance are vague and subjective in nature. Jim Lang responded that the proposed ordinance is a general ordinance and not targeted toward specific situations.
Mr. Welles presented an example depicting the inability of a homeowner to follow an enforced timetable due to economic hardship. Many homes have taken years to complete and Mr. Welles suggested that under this proposed ordinance, such homes would’ve been subject to this ordinance. Mr. Van Ausdal stated that the specific wording in the proposal is open for discussion.
Nancy Pelz-Paget stated that the ordinance is addressing circumstances that haven’t been addressed and suggested that the wording is for flexibility and not a “one size fits all”.
Chairman Welles read an article from the New Canaan Advertiser in which the enforcement officer reported on instances of getting caught up between neighbors. Mr. Lang reported that similar ordinances in Guilford, Westport, Ridgefield and Newtown did not report such instances. It was noted that the First Selectwoman is requesting review of the proposed ordinance by Counsel.
D. Barrett noted language inconsistencies and R. O’Brien questioned where we draw the line in acting out of an aesthetic difference. A. Cumings spoke to the need for achieving a middle ground and definitions that can’t be open to misuse. C. Cilo acknowledged the current time of struggle for many people and suggested waiting until the hardship has abated.
Dan Souza shared a personal experience and noted the need to respect aesthetic differences. He stated that such an ordinance should be compassionate and be consistent with the values of Redding residents.
First Selectwoman Pemberton stated that the proposed ordinance is boilerplate and has been reviewed by Counsel. She suggested a subcommittee for further review by Planning. Commissioners and ERF members could review and mark up the current document and changes will be put together in one document for discussion. Discussion will continue at the next meeting.
III. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT/DISCUSSION
T. Welles is having his final meeting with John Hayes on 1/15/21 to review final mapping re: Town Plan of Conservation & Development.
On the motion of S. Gagnon and the second of A. Cumings, the Commission voted unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 8:50 p.m.
Submitted by: Kristi Reilly