Letter: P&Z chair counters zoning proposals editorial

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

An editorial written by the Hearst Connecticut Media Editorial Board titled “Changes to Zoning Laws Worth Supporting” appeared in the April 1 edition of the Shelton Herald, and I suspect in its sister editions throughout our state.

The editorial was written in response to the various legislative proposals to change local zoning laws and states “how little visible impact they (state-wide zoning changes) might have on local communities were they to pass,” “nothing under discussion in the Legislature would eliminate local zoning,” and a major point of the legislation “is to limit sprawl while increasing the quantity and variety of housing available.”

The editorial also suggests that “The current drive to update land-use laws is about giving people more freedom to make decisions about their land, opening up what’s allowed in certain parts of towns and bringing some life to a state that is too often left behind. In the process, a new future of greater equity and inclusion could result.”

I disagree.

What misguided legislators seek to implement are zoning regulations that the state feels are appropriate for a town — not what local residents feel, want or need. While “giving people more freedom to make decisions about their land” could be considered laudable, what an individual property owner might consider a suitable use for their property may be entirely unsuitable for the neighborhood due to the property size, location, access, noise, traffic volume, etc.

“Opening up what’s allowed in certain parts of towns” guarantees a problem for a neighboring property owner if an incompatible use is now allowed, such as a factory or freight business in a residential neighborhood.

The editorial also states “A complementary provision, to allow the legalization of what are known as accessory dwelling units in single-family zones, would not affect the appearance of a neighborhood at all.” Not necessarily. While a residential structure may have only its internal area changed to allow more occupants, the occupants — who may not necessarily be a blood relation — may negatively impact the feel of the neighborhood with additional vehicles being parked on the street, more traffic and noise. An accessory dwelling unit does not necessarily mean an increase in property values.

The editorial states that “Opponents have reacted to all this with something that can best be described as hysteria.” The reactions by those opposed to the legislative proposals are justified and are meant to point out the misleading and inappropriate means for the state to control zoning. As many who are opposed to the proposals have pointed out, “top down” zoning and “one-size fits all” would be destructive to our autonomous system of zoning.

I strongly believe that replacing home rule and local zoning control will have negative effects on our communities. How would a municipality hold the State of Connecticut accountable for improper decisions that are against the best interests of a community?

State legislators should be spending time giving those seeking housing the wherewithal to afford housing by not burdening more taxes upon a potential employer which restrains the ability for business expansion and the need to hire additional workers. Connecticut’s focus needs to be on creating a good business climate and not one that discourages business development and decreases the chance of gainful employment for all sectors of society.

Virginia Harger

Chair, Shelton Planning & Zoning Commission