The New Haven City Plan Commission held its final public hearing Wednesday night on the Comprehensive Plan of Development, a long-term land use policy required by local and state statues, bringing a more than two-year process close to completion.
Pat King, the chair of the commission, said last night’s hearing was the “final step” in the process of receiving input on the plan from numerous citizens, the Board of Aldermen and other interested parties. The commission will vote on the plan during its meeting on Oct. 15.
“We are in the home stretch of a very lengthy race,” said Karen Gilvarg, executive director of the City Plan Department.
Michael Piscitelli, a member of the City Plan Department, said he expects the plan will pass the commission’s review and then be sent to the Board of Aldermen. The plan was previously approved by the Regional Planning Commission on Sept. 11, 2003. The Board of Alderman approved a draft Sept. 16.
Many of the speakers Thursday night asked the Commission to consider additional environmental provisions.
Crystal Manning, representing the New Haven Environmental Justice Network, called on the city to change its “antiquated zoning laws,” which she said place polluting industries along the waterfront near residential areas. Manning also said the city should discourage scrap yards and promote the use of clean fuels in its buses.
But Paul Larivee argued that industrial properties that currently lie abandoned should be reopened. He said the city needed to consider other aspects of development and realize that when industries are pushed out, low-skilled labor jobs are lost.
“This artist colony thing is only going to be a fad for a while and then it’s going to fade,” Larivee said.
Other speakers called on the City Plan Department to reduce the density of the city and promote open spaces.
But Lynn Shapiro disagreed, saying that density and less green spaces aided bus riders such as herself. Shapiro said open space often means a lot more walking for bus riders.
“There needs to be more balance between density and open space,” Shapiro said.
Although last night was the final public hearing, the commission voted to keep the record open for additional written comments until 5 p.m. Oct. 8, after multiple speakers requested the deadline be extended.
— Tom Sullivan