Is it time to overhaul Planning & Zoning regulations?

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Many in town were recently taken aback by the news of a large apartment complex that will soon be constructed north of the town center along Rte. 10/202.

It seems this project was approved two years ago but is now about to become a reality. How does a project like this come about without significant public involvement and notice? Given the size of this project and the potential for the taxpayers in Granby to pay for additional infrastructure, why wasn’t there a town referendum to approve a project of this magnitude? The fact that the area was “zoned” at some point in the past for this type of use is not sufficient justification especially when the zoning in the town appears to be haphazard and clearly needs to be updated. This development will drive the largest single influx of population, likely over 500 persons, in Granby’s 250-year history and one of the largest in the state over the last 20 years for a town of this size. 

Although one may view a large apartment complex as a significant tax revenue producer there are other consequences that should be considered. Who is financially responsible if the town water and sewer systems which support the center of town and pump the sewage to Simsbury cannot support the development? Last month the sewage system supporting downtown Granby backed up because of the operations of a small bar and pub. What additional police, fire, ambulance, roads, education and social service resources will be required to support this sudden and dramatic increase in population? Another point to consider is that apartment complexes like these tend not to improve with age, as readily evidenced when driving through surrounding towns and view many aging complexes of this type. 

On Wells Road there is a large construction project hidden behind a 200-yard screen. Plans are to demolish a home built in 1809. In its place a “McMansion” of over 7,000 square feet will be built. Such a structure will be an affront to the owners of the many historic homes in the area.

This construction project was a surprise to the residents living near the property. Given the scope and character of this project, local residents should have received a special notice from the town informing them that this was being planned and allowing for more discussion about the impact of the project on the neighborhood. This is by far not a normal construction project as evidenced by the 200 yards of privacy screening, mountains of earth, and the planned demolition of a 210-year-old home whose property abuts sensitive areas along Salmon Brook. Adding to the frustration is that this project is being partially funded by the other taxpayers in town via special agricultural tax breaks the owners have received.

It is time for Granby to take a hard look at zoning, development and preserving its culture and history. We live in a nice place and should work hard and be prepared to sacrifice some short-term economic gains to keep it that way.

I would encourage a detailed study conducted by an outside firm to review zoning and development in the town. Other issues which must be addressed are the creation of a definitive plan for the town center, the consideration of an expanded historic district, and guidance for building in areas where historic homes exist.

Pelizzon is CEO of Squadron Capital, a private equity firm in Granby.