North Branford growth plan revealed

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
July 26, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — The town should focus on preserving open space and farms while also promoting business growth along Route 80 in the next 10 years, consultants on the new Plan of Conservation and Development said this week.

The first public hearing on the town’s revised plan — which was last updated in 1991 — Thursday night drew about 25 residents interested in discussing the development goals of the town.

The Plan of Conservation and Development includes demographic, economic and geographic information and sets priorities for future growth.

“This is quite an important document,” said Brian Miller, a consultant for the town. “This is intended to guide the growth and development and the land use of the town over the next five to 10 years.”

Thursday’s hearing included a presentation from Miller and another consultant as well as input from several members of the public hearing audience.

Miller noted that the plan hopes to preserve two of North Branford’s most distinctive features, the continuing existence of farmland and the town’s separation into two communities — Northford and North Branford center.

“North Branford certainly has room for additional development,” he said. “So how that land is to be used and how the existing community is to grow is very important.”

In addition to overall goals for the town, the plan also contains details like where to extend sewers and how to rezone certain properties.

Several residents spoke Thursday on different aspects of the plan.

Dudley Harrison, who also sent the Planning and Zoning Commission a letter on the topic, said that he hopes the town will not zone the old Town Hall site at 1599 Foxon Road for commercial use, as indicated in the draft plan. Town Council members have said in the past that they hope to sell the site for commercial development.

“As a lifetime resident of North Branford I do not want to see that put as commercial,” Harrison said. “I think it should be kept as open space.”

Joe Vita, another resident, called the proposed plan “very comprehensive and well thought out.” He said he likes the idea of making the central North Branford area — near the intersection of routes 80 and 139 — a more unified community, but he added that the town should install more “traffic-calming” devices.

“The first and foremost thing that needs to be done is to act on the recommendations as they’re written in this plan to make that area more pedestrian friendly,” Vita said. “For the economic development to be appropriate and be vital we also need to consider the quality of life aspects.”

At the meeting, Town Manager Richard Branigan encouraged residents to offer their opinions on the plan.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will set a date for a second public hearing at the commission’s next meeting on Aug. 7.

Branigan said anyone who cannot attend the public hearings can send comments to the Planning Department at Town Hall.

Following the public hearings, town staff and the consultants may make changes to the plan, which will ultimately come before the Planning and Zoning Commission for approval.

“Your input to this document is important and vital,” Branigan said. “This is the town’s document; it is the residents’ document; it is the taxpayers’ document.”

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