Affordable Housing Plan needs to pause

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Granby’s recently appointed Town Manager, Erica Robertson, wrote in the March edition of the Drummer: “My staff and I will have a road map for getting Granby to where we want to be in the future.” I understand that there has been some controversy on social media as to what was meant by Robertson’s statement.

For starters, let’s examine the grammatical structure of that sentence. “My staff and I” collectively infers the use of the pronoun “we”. When taken in that context her intent in using the collective pronoun “we” means our current town leaders and not the citizens of Granby. My claim is substantiated in her next statement.

In the following paragraph in the same article, Robertson states: “We will develop a strategic plan…from various sources including staff, elected boards, commissions and individual citizens.” Again, who is the “we”? This statement, although broader in context has some issues. First and foremost, it is the duly elected political body, the Board of Selectmen, that has organizational responsibility to establish strategy. It is the function of the town’s hired administrators— the Town Manager and Abigail Kenyon, the Community Development Director—who incidentally do not live in Granby, to implement any strategy lawfully made by the Board; making strategies for the town fails to fall under their purview. Secondly, “individual citizens” implies including and soliciting the recommendations of selected persons, rather than all of the citizens.

Most citizens I’ve spoken with have not read nor heard about the recommendations offered by a selected few who formed the Committee on Affordable Housing. The Affordable Housing Plan was devised and recently appeared on the Town’s website. Residents had one opportunity to attend a meeting on March 24 and in a three-minute timed-slot present his or her opinion of the draft plan. Residents had the right to attend meetings; however, they were not permitted to speak. It appears that the one goal this committee endorsed was to meet a June 22 deadline mandated by the State of Connecticut. Their efforts would have been better served to inform residents, rather than ram something through to meet a now unrealistic deadline. Lacking a consensus of a well-informed citizenry, it is incumbent upon the Board of Selectmen to do as other governing municipalities throughout the State have done—formally request a moratorium until all matters regarding Affordable Housing and Section 8 have been worked through.

Furthermore, if the Board of Selectmen truly desires inclusivity, it must submit any proposed changes or modifications to the town’s existing ordinances and zoning regulations to the electors through a public referendum rather than adopting recommendations from a document that contains incomplete data/impacts, inconsistencies and proposals that will truly change the uniqueness of Granby.