Town Council re-visits lot sizes for town center zoning

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Oct. 11, 2013
Town Councilman Kurt Cavanaugh said he wanted to be sure the TPZ Commission heard the council's reasons for wanting a smaller minimum lot size. Photos by Steve Smith.
Town Councilman Kurt Cavanaugh said he wanted to be sure the TPZ Commission heard the council's reasons for wanting a smaller minimum lot size. Photos by Steve Smith.

The Glastonbury Town Council again discussed changes to the proposed Town Center Zone, which would create a mixed-usage zoning in the central business area of Glastonbury. The Council had last discussed the Town Center Zone at its June 25 meeting, and proposed six amendments which were referred back to the Town Plan and Zoning Commission, including minimums set for front and yard space for new businesses in the zone, as well as a required percentage of open space and a 20,000-square-foot lot area.

Director of Community Development Ken Leslie reported that the commission had recommended five of the six amendments be incorporated into the regulation, but wanted a 40,000-square-foot minimum size for new lots. Leslie said historically there has been a joining of lots to allow for construction and to make for unified development plans, and that a 40,000-square-foot lot would support the code's purpose better.

“We thought that was a good reference to look at,” Leslie said.

However, some council members weren't sure their recommendations were heard. Councilman Kurt Cavanaugh said he had read the minutes of the TPZ meeting, and that he didn't see where the council's concerns about the lot size were discussed. Among those concerns were that the smaller minimum size would allow for a greater variety of uses. “I wonder if the minutes are lacking that, or if you didn't represent what occurred at that meeting,” Cavanaugh said.

Leslie said he didn't know why that information was not in the minutes, but that the council's wishes regarding the size limit was communicated to the TPZ.

Zoning Chair Sharon Purtill said the commission was fully aware of the desired change, but that 100 percent of the TPZ members agreed that the smaller lot size would not encourage development. “We think, in fact, that it would hinder development, and have a negative impact on the center,” Purtill said.

Purtill said that the town council's wish (as she understood it) of creating a town center that looks like that of Middletown, Manchester or West Hartford, with more dense development and less parking, would not be served well by the lower minimum lot size, and would be, “in essence, putting the cart before the horse,” because smaller lots would have little to no parking and those towns have wider Main Streets and more already-existing parking, on- and off-street.

“We have no ability for on-street parking,” she said. “If, at some point, the council wants to go that direction, I think it would first have to determine where there would be public parking. Instead, you're pushing parking onto other public parking, and it's not fair.”

Purtill also said several smaller parcels have been approved in the recent past, and most have failed.

Councilman Larry Byar said the council's intent was also to allow for an owner or developer to cut off part of their property for another development, and that he wasn't convinced that the minimum shouldn't be lower. “I'd still like to see that maintained,” Byar said. “I don't want to restrict potential development.”

Councilwoman Diane DeLuzio added that she understands the concern about parking, but still wanted the minimum lowered, with the parking issue left, but council members Tom Gullotta and Jill Barry said they were okay with the 40,000-square-foot limit.

“My biggest concern is the parking, and I think with the bigger lots, you would have common driveways and shared parking you would not have with less than 40,000,” Barry said.

The council voted to move the zoning proposal to a public hearing, and is set for Oct. 22.

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