Bears vs. Bulldozers: Who Will Control Our Future?
Chubby Bunny Farm, Litchfield County, CT
There is no issue more particular to a town than its zoning regulations (or lack thereof), and yet every town in our region has similar land-use challenges and concerns. There seems to be consensus that farms and open land must be preserved for environmental and quality-of-life reasons, while at the same time there is a desperate need to build affordable housing.
This was a major theme of a symposium, Who We Are—Who We’re Becoming: The Changing Face of Berkshire Taconic Communities that was sponsored by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Alas, most towns in our region cannot afford to hire experts full-time to guide them as they try to promote economic development while protecting streams, ridge lines and scenic vistas—without treading on property owners’ rights. How have some towns managed to make it illegal for tattoo parlors and trailer camps to take root in their community?
Until recently, information about how different towns are coping with these issues has been hard to come by, which frustrated Ruth Skovron, who sits on the Falls Village Planning & Zoning Commission. So Skovron solicited private funds (while also working to get state funding) to start the Northwest Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative whose website would be a resource guide for all the volunteers and part-time officials who set planning and zoning policy for small towns. Though some of the site is specifically geared to Connecticut law, it contains ideas, links, and resources that should be useful to anyone who is trying to preserve the rural character of his community.