Glastonbury Town Council discusses parking in town center
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Tue., Jul. 30, 2013
The Glastonbury Town Council took further steps toward redefining what the town's center should look like, as it discussed zoning changes - specifically addressing parking - at its meeting on July 23. The council had reviewed the proposed zoning changes at several recent meetings, but a few questions remained about specific intentions.
Town Manager Richard Johnson said that, based on the July 9 council meeting, town staff put together recommended changes to the proposals, including a minimum size requirement change from 40,000 square feet to 20,000, a front yard minimum width of 20 feet wide, and a restriction on drive-throughs being located in the front yard.
“One of the questions I had,” Johnson said, “is that there was discussion regarding parking in the front yard area. We weren't clear as to if that was something you wanted to incorporate into the zone regulation.”
Development Director Ken Leslie said the normal protocol would be to discourage parking in the front yard of a property, or that it would be considered an “minimalist approach.”
“There may be times where that makes some sense, especially for handicapped spaces,” Leslie said. “The philosophy, I think, is clear. It's not something we encourage. In fact, we give people a credit – allowing them to pull the building forward – if they put the parking on the side or in the rear.”
Councilwoman Diane Deluzio said she wanted to make sure the codes wouldn't limit a possibility of certain kinds of buildings.
A motion ratifying the changes to the zoning proposal passed, 7-0. The next steps include another review and a public hearing.
The council also heard further analysis of parking in the town center, which it had also discussed on July 9. The benefits of a multi-deck parking garage, akin to the one in the lot at Eric Town Square, were weighed.
Johnson said he and town staff would put together a conceptual and feasibility analysis, and would identify what different options may make sense for Glastonbury, and then seek further input from the council.
Leslie said the discussion began with the most recent edition of the Plan of Conservation and Development, and the common goal was that the town hadn't looked at master-planning of the town center for decades, and that the town has been looking at parking in the same way.
“There is a lot of interest, and it has come up publicly,” he said. “There has been a lot of good discussion about that.”
Councilman Tom Gullotta said he would support the motion to go forward, but with caveats.
“I'm not a believer in 'bigger is better.'” he said. “Nor am I a believer that adding more parking is necessarily going to solve the problems of downtown, which seems to be just a lot of traffic. Until one starts looking at the roads, and how they process that traffic, we aren't going to have a lot of improvements.”
Gullotta said the town is at a crossroads, because there is a lot of interest in town, and a lot of business, but also a lot of gridlock.
Councilman Whit Osgood suggested alternatives. “One would be greater density with [regard to] walkability downtown,” he said, comparing to Winter Park, Fla., which he recently visited and he said is very dense, but very popular, friendly and interesting.
“If it's on-street parking, or shared parking, that's certainly worth looking at,” Osgood said, adding that he'd like to see a committee of council, planning and zoning, and Town Center Initiative members, as well as business owners, steer the process forward.
“Let's let town staff come up with what they think are the issues, and potential ways to approach it,” he said. “Then, rather than hiring a consultant, we can refer that to a subcommittee of multiple boards, and then, if it makes sense, hire a consultant.”
Councilwoman Lorraine Marchetti said she liked the idea of a public-private partnership. “It's really about increasing our economic development opportunities in Glastonbury,” she said.
Johnson said town staff would put together a more solid recommendation, and return to the council in the near future.