If We Keep Growing, How Should We Do It?

Thomas MacMillan PhotoThe city is embarking on a once-a-decade process to revise a foundational document, one that will set a course for the city development for years to come.

Nope, not the charter.

The city has begun the process of revising its Comprehensive Plan of Development, the document that lays out a vision for how the city should grow and change physically and environmentally.

The Comprehensive Plan establishes a vision for the long-range development of the city over a 10-year period. It covers economic development, the waterfront, coastal planning, transportation, environmental considerations, and housing. It’s a vision that guides a wide variety of planning and land-use decisions in the city.

The Comprehensive Plan itself is not very specific, but it shapes all sorts of other plans, which do get quite specific, said City Plan Director Karyn Gilvarg.

All Connecticut municipalities are required to prepare a Comprehensive Plan every 10 years. New Haven’s is set to expire in October 2013.

At Wednesday evening’s meeting of the City Plan Commission, Susmitha Attota, a staffer in the City Plan Department, explained what needs to happen between now and October of next year. Attota is spearheading the effort to create a new comprehensive plan.

Creating a new Comprehensive Plan comes in two phases. The first is the creation of a “Data Book” compiling information on a wide variety of indicators about the city, from public safety to population and housing rates. Attota has been working on the new Data Book for some time; she said she hopes to have it complete by end of this year.

Phase two is the development of planning goals. One of the primary tasks in that phase is to create a public dialogue about the plan, to take in ideas from all different parts of the New Haven community. That will take place through the city’s website, through surveys, meetings, focus groups, newsletters, media partnerships, workshops, and a possibly a website called MindMixer, Attota said.

Asked by City Plan Commission chair Ed Mattison to describe anything that stands out in her research to date, Attota said the census indicates a population growth of 5 percent in the last ten years. “It’s an amazing increase” considering other towns in the region grew by smaller amounts, she said.

The city could grow in population by as much as 10 percent in the next decade, Attota said. Which begs the question, “If we grow, where do we want to accommodate the growth?” she said.

While other towns have seen their poverty rates increase during the recession, New Haven’s has been “holding steady,” she said.

Gilvarg said another important recession-related shift is that more people are staying longer in rental properties, delaying the purchase of their first homes.

New Haven has seen a 4 percent increase in housing stock over the last decade, Attota said.

Attota said she will be updating the City Plan Commission regularly in the coming year as she works on revising the Comprehensive Plan.

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posted by: ElmJackCity on December 20, 2012  9:34am

Who is she?  Did I elect her?

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 20, 2012  10:27am

Ya and part of that plan is to dump my crap in Cedar Hill. We already house enough things in this SMALL ISOLATED COMMUNITY! We can NOT take on anymore!!! And those reading this know EXACTLY what I am talking about!!! SORRY WE WILL BE FIGHTING IT!! We have a beat cop during the day till 3pm…BUT no cops between 3 to 1 weds though sat!!! When we need it!! It is getting worse and you want to more stuff here??? Really THAT IS NOT DEVELOPMENT!!! That is killing an area that is already doing there fair share!!!

posted by: Noteworthy on December 20, 2012  11:15am

I hope they make sure to include a section for the connected and privileged vs. the common folk.

posted by: anonymous on December 20, 2012  12:25pm

Unfortunately, the last Comprehensive Plan was not followed.

Many key streets were widened over the objections of hundreds of local residents. The new infrastructure stands in direct contrast to what was approved in the 2003 Plan.

There are countless other examples.

What’s to say that things will be different this time around?

posted by: Atwater on December 20, 2012  2:55pm

My prediction for the Elm City: Yale will continue to consume the poorer areas of the city displacing the citizens who live there and raising the property value and rents. Downtown will continue as a Epcot centeresque area with quaint shops, bars and restaurants. Nothing of actual use will be built causing the city’s citizens to drive and/or ride into surrounding towns and cities to do their shopping. The mayor and city hall will continue to pour countless millions into a failing school system. East Rock, Wooster and Westville will remain bastions of grad students, professors and lawyers. The only places for working people will become Fairhaven and Newhallville, areas with higher crime rates, areas that are usually ignored by the Police. Property taxes will continue to soar as the mayor and city hall try to support their micro welfare state.  Hipsters will run amok, the culture of the city will continue its trend toward homogeneity .
New Haven will continue to be a city with a huge disparity in wealth, employment and privilege. Soon it will be solely a place for the upper classes, with the working classes and poor people relegated to public housing or exiled to either West Haven or East Haven.

posted by: Stephen Harris on December 22, 2012  11:37am

Rt. 34 West, Long Wharf and the jumble between Union Station and the Med district are the natural growth areas. These should receive the lion’s share of attention. Strengthening existing neighborhood centers is also critical. Moving large numbers of people using public transportation is a must. Perhaps electric jitney busses could work to fill in the gaps.

Think long term. Recognize the trends in energy and finance. Plan for density and home grown small-scale industry to balance the emerging bio-medical economy. As the global economy contracts due to energy problems and finance continues to spiral out of control we should be looking for ways to reposition ourselves to be the regional producer of goods for local consumption.