Public hearing approved for proposed redistricting in Pomfret

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Pomfret town board members approved to send a proposed redistricting of the Route 20 corridor and a section of the Route 60 corridor on the east side heading south to Spoden Road to a Feb. 14 public hearing. The proposal details the redistricting of the corridors from an AR1, agricultural residential, district to a B2, business highway district.

A proposal to extend the business highway district at two Pomfret corridors will go to a Feb. 14 public hearing.

On Wednesday, town board members approved a hearing on the proposal that details the redistricting of the Route 20 corridor from an AR1, agricultural residential, to a B2, business highway. The redistricting would begin on the north side at 3724 East Main Road and on the south side at 3721 East Main Road. The area proposed for redistricting would extend east to the Swamp Road and Christy Road area on Route 20.

The proposal also details the AR1 to B2 redistricting for an east section of the Route 60 corridor from Route 83 heading south to the Spoden Road area.

The redistricting follows development in the works on Route 20, including the new Brooks Memorial Hospital, and the possibility for more business on Route 60 in the town. The proposal to redistrict is in conformance with the town’s agricultural plan to further the B2 district. Notices will go out to owners of tax parcels in the two chains proposed for redistricting.

The town’s Planning and Zoning boards worked closely on the proposal. In discussions with residents, Zoning Board Chairman David Fridmann said he doesn’t believe there’s a huge perceived problem about changing the Route 20 corridor from an AR1 to a B2.

“I don’t think there’s necessarily a big outcry against the issue,” he said. “More importantly to me, if we’re going to expand or develop any portion of Pomfret, that corridor is exactly where we want to be doing that. That’s the most developed, ready-to-go area we have. This is the seed we need to plant to continue to move forward with our town.”

Planning Board Chairman James Joy said the Route 20 corridor would be reflective of the Route 60 corridor from Lakeview Avenue to Laona.

“There’s agriculture there, there’s residents there and there’s businesses there,” he said.

Councilman Christopher Schaeffer said he has no problem changing the Route 60 corridor, but he did take issue with altering the Route 20 corridor.

“At this point, I’m not in favor of changing the Route 20 corridor into B2 unless residents come in and tell me that’s what they want,” he said. “In that case I will back it.”

Schaeffer acknowledged the proposal for Route 60 makes sense since there’s more business than residential homes. As for Route 20, he said there’s one business finishing construction.

“There are maybe 10 to 15 homes in that stretch, and you’re going to be changing zoning on those homeowners who bought those homes,” he said. “They bought it knowing it was a residential area.”

Councilman John Sedota said he’s willing to support the proposal unless he hears otherwise while councilman Brett Christy said he’s not opposed to the move.

“We’re all in agreement that we don’t want to stall anything going with the hospital,” Christy said. “It’s not a huge change to the town, but it’s a big area of the town that we’re changing a bit.”

The public hearing will take place Feb. 14 at 6:15 p.m. at the town hall. The regular meeting will follow at 6:30 p.m., and board members could vote on it then.

Town Supervisor Don Steger said the board would also need to finalize allowable uses within a B2 district, and another public hearing would need to be scheduled. The board will hold a workshop to finalize what would be allowed in a B2 district on Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the town hall.