Hotels, walking trails, plans to revitalize Branchville — all those topics and more will be up for discussion during a public hearing to discuss Ridgefield’s Plan of Conservation and Development on Tuesday, June 18.
The meeting will be held from 7:30 to 9 p.m. in the town hall annex, 66 Prospect St.
It is the fourth in a series of “listening sessions” held by the commission, as the town looks to update the town plan for the next decade. The plan must be completed and approved by the commission by the summer of 2020.
“I think the meeting on the 18th is a chance for Ridgefield residents to tell us what’s on their mind,” said Glenn Chalder of Planimetrics, the firm hired to rewrite the plan.
He described Tuesday night’s meeting as a “public information session,” and suggested that the meeting will be open to a range of topics brought forward from the public, rather than the commission. “I don’t see us really structuring it by saying ‘okay, now everyone talk about this,’” Chalder said.
The last three listening sessions were restricted to comments from members of town organizations and elected officials only, but Tuesday’s meeting will be open to comment from members of the general public.
Those previous sessions included discussions on topics related to conservation — such as open space, and the Norwalk River Valley Trail — as well as economic development, and town infrastructure.
As with the other listening sessions, Chalder said he will open with a brief presentation to explain the purpose of the town’s plan, before turning the meeting over to the public. At previous meetings, public officials were restricted to 10 minutes for comments.
Arnold Light, who chairs the town Economic and Community Development Commission, said he plans to bring up the town’s restrictions on homeowners listing their property for short-term rentals on AirBNB, adjusting the town’s business zoning, and seeking ways to get sewer service into the area around the Branchville train station.
He said he will also reintroduce the possibility of developing a boutique hotel in town to support visitors, an idea he brought up during the April 2 hearing on economic development.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi said he will talk about several plans to build trails through town green spaces, including one suggestion for a walking pathway that would connect the Boys and Girls Club to the Elms condominiums.
Daniel Robinson, the town’s assistant planner, said participants should think about “key issues facing Ridgefield now and for the next 10-20 years,” as well as what parts of the plan from 2010 the town should strengthen or change as it looks a decade ahead.
“What should we try to preserve or protect?” Robinson said. “How should we try to guide growth or change? What services and facilities do we want or need?”
Chalder said the June 18 meeting will be the first of three opportunities for public input. The commission will hold a followup meeting in July to discuss the feedback they received from all four listening sessions, which will likely be open to the public, not set up to receive public comment, he told The Press. Another public hearing will be held in September once Chalder has written a draft of the plan, and then a final public hearing will be held in the spring of 2020, before the plan is adopted ahead of the July 2020 deadline.
Background materials on the plan and the rewrite can be found on the town website at www.ridgefieldct.org/pocd-2020.
Robinson said those interested in attending the meeting should RSVP by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Those who cannot attend, but still want to give comments or feedback on the plan to the commission, can also email Robinson to have their thoughts submitted to the commission in writing.
Chalder did not name any specific issues that will be discussed, but suggested folks should consider where the plan might “strengthen” or “preserve” aspects of the town that they appreciate. “It’s dynamic and it’s in real time and allows people to hear some good ideas and support them or respond to them in real time,” he said.
“It’s not like Ridgefield is being formed by the raw earth today,” he added.