Plan of Development latest draft presented to residents

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By Shirley Murtha

Under the co-chairmanship of Paula Johnson and Eric Lukingbeal, the Plan of Conservation and Development Subcommittee presented its first draft of the 2015 plan to Granby residents on April 21. First developed in 1993 and updated in 2005, the plan is designed “to provide guidance and information to all of the town’s boards, commissions, public officials and residents.” It contains policies, goals and standards for physical and economic development and recommends the most desirable use of the town’s land for residential housing, recreation, commerce, industry and conservation purposes.

Appointed by the Planning and Zoning Commission, the subcommittee began its two-year project by studying past plans of Granby and other towns, and conducted public workshops seeking input on the pluses and minuses of life in Granby.
Granby differs from many neighboring communities because the natural environment plays such a large role in its lifestyle—property is shared with wildlife, and forests and other lands are conserved outright or with conservation easements. Due to its geography and emphasis on the importance of agriculture, Granby will always have limited industrial and commercial development, limited housing types and social services. This has an understandable effect on its grand list and resulting tax structure.

The subcommittee’s specific areas of study included population and demographics, environment, housing, budgeting, taxation and grand list growth, transportation, the center, open space and recreation, agriculture, government services and public facilities.

After an introduction by subcommittee co-chair Johnson, the presentation began with an overview of Granby’s demographics by Director of Community Development Fran Armentano. He was followed by subcommittee members who commented on their personal areas of study. The floor was then opened for public comment. Among the topics were specific concerns of the elderly community and staying abreast of the latest scientific practices with regard to agriculture and conservation.

The conclusions of the subcommittee regarding Granby’s status in 10 years include the following: the town will remain a rural residential community, the center will be a more vibrant commercial and mixed-use area, homes will continue to be primarily owner-occupied single family, the roads will have been redesigned as necessary for convenience and safety, and the quality of life will have remained high.

Granby residents are encouraged to visit the town website to read the details of this very informative 57-page first draft. After some fine-tuning, expected to be completed by June 1, the report will be submitted to the Board of Selectmen and the Capitol Region Council of Governments and will be filed with the Town Clerk. At that time, print copies will be available at the Town Hall and the libraries as well as on the town website. A public hearing will be held in October prior to final adoption of the plan.

Johnson noted that this plan will not sit on the shelf for the next 10 years, but will be used to direct the town’s various boards and organizations in finding ways to implement the goals it describes. After the plan’s final adoption, committees will be formed to assist in that process.

The last word before the presentation concluded came from longtime resident Jim Oates. His words of caution when approaching change: “Don’t ruin what you have to get what you think you need.”