Ed. Note: The following letter is being reprinted due to production difficulties last week.
Centralized plans, which try to engineer economic development, not only waste the money of us taxpayers who fund them, but they are also shams. This was no more evident than during the October 8 meeting of Planning and Zoning Commission, where the fate of the expansion of the Seacrest retirement home was deliberated.
At the core of the debate is the West Haven Plan of Conservation and Development. The owners and attorneys who spoke on behalf of Seacrest in prior meetings argued that the expansion was compliant with the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD). On the other side, the neighbors-and ultimately the Planning and Zoning Commission itself-argued that the expansion was not in compliance with the POCD. Which leads to this point: Compliance with the plan, or lack thereof, is essentially a subjective decision, which means that the Plan of Conservation and Development-and all other plans like it-are shams.
Another example is provided by one of the worst centralized plans in Connecticut history: The Haven South Municipal Development Plan, which created “The Haven.”
Written at taxpayer expense under the ‘old’ Plan of Conservation and Development, the authors (consultants who specialize in such matters) argue at length that the Haven South Municipal Development Plan is not only compliant with the POCD, but also with all of the Connecticut statutes having to do with Eminent Domain.
They do this with crafty sleight of hand: by simply quoting the law itself. No substantiating evidence is ever provided, which makes this plan, and all plans like it, farces. ‘Compliance’ is simply declared. There is an entire cottage industry of consultants and attorneys-paid for by us- who make a business out of making plans ‘compliant’.
Planning and Zoning can argue that the expansion of Seacrest is not harmonious with the neighborhood-and hence not compliant with POCD. Haven South Municipal Development Plan can also claim that The Haven IS harmonious with the neighborhood-even though the neighborhood no longer exists. Neither side of either argument can ever be based on firm ground with the plans as they are crafted today. Any side can argue any angle-and have it pass muster.
Let’s stop the farce and stop writing these expensive, counterproductive and ultimately useless plans. Let Planning and Zoning, City Council, and our other various Boards and Commissions continue to make decisions by considering each project on its merits, with input from stakeholders, and based on our existing laws and regulations. Don’t waste any more taxpayer money on plans.