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Minutes of Planning Commission Special Meeting, 08/07/2018

AGENDA: Planning Commission Special Meeting

RECEIVED 08/13/2018 3:49pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Redding Planning Commission
P.O. Box 1028
Redding Center, Connecticut 06875-1028

MINUTES
Tuesday, August 7, 2018
6:00 p.m. – Town Hall Conference Room
100 Hill Road, Redding

Present: Toby Welles, Chairman; Commissioner Chuck Cilo; Commissioner Anda Cumings; Commissioner Steve Gagnon; Commissioner Nancy King; Alternate James Bacon; Alternate Clair Matzke; Alternate Regina O’Brien.

Also present: Rob Dean, Board of Finance Member and Former Planning Commissioner
John Hayes, Town Planning Consultant
Aimee Pardee, Land Use Director

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.

I. ADMINISTRATIVE

1. Town Plan of Conservation & Development 2018. Recommendations to be submitted to the office by email Planning@townofreddingct.org for John Hayes. Review Georgetown chapter.

The Chairman introduced the discussion of the Georgetown chapter of the Town Plan of Development. He stated that he had asked Rob Dean to attend as Mr. Dean is an architect who served on the Planning Commission for many years and who also was involved with the design process for the most recent Master Plan for the former Gilbert and Bennett property.

Mr. Dean reviewed the history of the attempts to redevelop the former Gilbert and Bennett property (“G & B”), which he noted had begun in the 1980’s. He explained that, in the 1980s, the state was planning a “super 7” highway from the coast to I84, and that Georgetown would have had an exit. When the “super 7” plan was abandoned, the G & B property redevelopment was stalled and, once financing from interests in Kuwait were lost due to the Iraq war, the property sat until around 1999. The property was spun off from the manufacturing interests of the Gilbert and Bennett Company and was ultimately foreclosed on by the town.

At that time, a Blue Ribbon Panel was established to decide how the town should proceed with the property. A developer, Steven Solar, was found who was willing to meet town demands such as paying due property taxes, paying off other creditors, and hiring Andres Duany to work on a Master Plan for the property. The Special Taxing District was created by the legislature and bonds were issued to pay for the initial development. Mr. Dean explained that, at this point, there were many aspects to the development that needed to be managed such as state permits, grants regarding the proposed train station, etc. and by the time the project was ready to move forward, the housing crash of 2008 had occurred, halting development.

The Commission discussed the current status of the G & B property and the town’s efforts to again foreclose on the property. Mr. Dean noted that, even if the town obtains title to the property, the bond holder’s claims will not be extinguished and they may have a claim on income from the property. The Commission discussed what might be a desirable use for the property. Mr. Dean suggested considering how the property could be an asset to the town; he also cautioned against considering it separately from the entirety of the Georgetown village. Regarding the town plan, he suggested that the commission not try to produce a new master plan, but consider how to get to the next master plan, including the possibility of a new charrette.

The Commission discussed whether a TOD (transit oriented development) could still be considered. Mr. Hayes suggested considering moving the proposed train station; Mr. Dean stated that the train station was proposed for the area of the treatment plants and the lagoon as the proposed parking would permanently cap off the lagoon and a pedestrian bridge would also provide access to businesses on Main Street and Old Mill Road.

Mr. Bacon asked Mr. Dean about other contamination on site besides the lagoon area. Mr. Dean stated that the lagoon is considered the most contaminated area; there is other contamination on portions of the site to a lesser extent.

The Chairman distributed an outline of the proposed Georgetown chapter of the Town Plan which he stated builds upon the work previously done by J. Bacon and C. Matzke. The Commission decided to continue discussion of the Georgetown chapter at the next regularly scheduled meeting.

IV. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

No items were discussed under this agenda item.

On the motion of S. Gagnon and the second of A. Cumings, the Commission voted unanimously to adjourn the meeting at 8:05 p.m.

Submitted by: Aimee Pardee

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