Town officials are asking for the public’s input in a community-wide survey as they prepare to update the major guiding document for land use decisions in New Canaan.
The document informs P&Z “of how we should alter or stay the course” in the appointed body’s decision-making, said Town Planner Sarah Carey.
She continued: “This is your chance as a member of the public to give us your opinion of: What are we doing well as a town? What do we need to improve on? What do we want to see more of? What do we want to see less of? And so this community survey is kind of the first attempt of this POCD process for us to hear the public’s opinion. So what we hear in the community survey is going to help us figure out what we do for the future public workshops, what topics we really want to home in on. Is it sustainability? Is it more downtown development? This survey is the first step.”
The online survey, which does not ask participants to identify themselves or collect their contact information, is open through Sept. 30. With 23 main questions about New Canaan and up to 13 optional questions about the respondent, it should take up to 20 or 25 minutes, officials say.
Consistency with the POCD is required for any applicant seeking a Special Permit from the Commission—a step that is needed for a wide range of projects, including any large-scale project—so it “definitely carries a lot of weight,” Carey said.
“It is a bit up to interpretation, unfortunately, with these large comprehensive plans because we’re required to be so broad,” she said. “There are items that are going to be up for interpretation. There’s no perfect plan out there. But regardless of that, it is still important because the Planning & Zoning Commission is the one who at the end of the day has to approve the plan. And since our members are involved in it a year from now, if a large project comes in and they were very involved in this process, they’re going to know the meat of this plan and that will really impact their decision.”
Members of the public also will be able to address members of P&Z at the Commission’s POCD Subcommittee meeting on Oct. 26, with the updating process getting underway in earnest next year. Subcommittee members include Chair John Kriz, Kent Turner, Krista Neilson, Chris Hering, Tom Benton and Dan Radman, who serves as P&Z chair and is an alternate on the Subcommittee.
“We’ll have additional public hearings through January and then in likely mid- to late-spring, early summer, we’ll have a final public hearing where the final plan is adopted,” Carey said.
She said the Commission is seeking input from a good cross-section of the town.
“We want to hear from everyone,” Carey said. “Students in town, as well—just as many responses as possible is very helpful for us as we kick off this exciting process.
Individuals or organizations who want to provide input on the Plan of Conservation and Development for Town Planner Sarah Carey can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or can drop off a letter at Town Hall.