What is Your Vision for Branford?

File PhotoAnyone wanting to help shape the town’s destiny over the next 10 years may attend a meeting this Wednesday to discuss a proposed draft of the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). One of the top issues is coastal vulnerability.

A public meeting to discuss the proposed draft will be held Wednesday, June 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Blackstone Memorial Library. The meeting is an opportunity for residents and business owners to make comments and ask questions.

The Steering Committee will then review the comments and refine the draft before submitting it to the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z). The commission will schedule a public hearing on the proposed final version sometime in the fall.

Copies of the proposed draft for 2018, and the 2008 POCD are available on the town’s website. Municipalities are required to update the POCD every 10 years.

The POCD Steering Committee has been meeting regularly since a public workshop in November attended by about 220 people. Participants selected coastal issues as one of the top concerns, particularly the impact of rising seas and frequent storms.

File PhotoThe Steering Committee discussed coastal issues and sustainability at several meetings, including one in February.

The draft plans states: “While the 2008 POCD identified sea level rise as an “emerging issue,” there is now widespread consensus among numerous scientific bodies that the planet is experiencing sea level rise and undergoing significant climate change. These trends will continue for some time to come and it is apparent that both trends will impact Branford to a greater extent and with increasing frequency. Shoreline and riverfront neighborhoods will be particularly affected by rising sea levels.”

Some important aspects of the 2018 plan include: establishing a framework for addressing coastal vulnerability (Chapter 4);  improving Exit 53 (Chapter 14); improving bicycle and pedestrian facilities around Branford (Chapter 15); keeping Branford Center vibrant and promoting transit‐oriented development (Chapter 9); supporting economic development and tourism (Chapter 11); protecting natural resources and open space (Chapters 5 & 6); and promoting sustainability (Chapter 12).

All of the chapters include specific recommendations or suggestions to implement the goals.

Coastal Vulnerability Committee

For example, the POCD recommends the town appoint a committee or working group to address coastal vulnerability; evaluate whether Branford should impose stricter rules on development in coastal floodplain areas; and continue to work with regional, state and federal agencies to address coastal vulnerability, including ways to encourage property owners to retreat from vulnerable locations.

In another category, the POCD addresses issues of Planned Development Districts (PDDs). The POCD recommends that the P&Z commission revisit PDD regulations and consider supplementing the regulations with provisions that are consistent with the POCD, including several possibilities such as “development that provides demonstrable community benefits.” The POCD did not define the nature of the development or what constitutes “demonstrable community benefits.”

The draft was prepared with input from residents, online surveys, phone surveys, listening sessions, and committee meetings.
Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics was hired by the P&Z to oversee the POCD updating process.  Chalder can be contacted directly at pocd@branford-ct.gov.

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