For small CT town, addressing power outages — not bolstering development — is key to next 10 years

BRIDGEWATER — One of the goals of the town's new master plan is to address power outages and other weather-related disruptions to residents’ lives.

“We’ve had a lot more wind storms, we’ve had a lot more tree damage over power lines and cable and we need to harden our infrastructure, so to speak, by cutting a lot more trees along the way,” said Bridgewater First Selectman Curtis Read.

Read said all of the town’s ash trees are dying of a blight, and a lot of other trees are getting older and falling onto power lines. With the frequent high winds and other changes in the weather, Read said there’s been a lot of power outages that the town is trying to address, seeing as “it’s very disruptive to the people here.”

Addressing these issues are one of the primary goals of the town's latest Plan of Conservation and Development, which is meant to be Bridgewater's road map for the next decade.  Read said the state encourages towns to have these plans, often abbreviated as POCD, approved every 10 years to be eligible for state grants.

“As long as they get their piece of paper, you get your checkbox that you’re eligible for state grants, and you have your POCD on file,” he said.


Another goal of the plan is to continue strengthening and maintaining the town's existing facilities and protecting its open spaces, environment, water and farming community — all of which were goals outlined in the plan the town approved in 2012. 

In the last decade, Read said the town has improved its senior center and sidewalks, which have been made more walkable and bike-friendly, among other goals suggested in the 2012 plan. Despite its name, the plan doesn't need to focus solely on conservation and development.

“In my mind, development is a very bad word to use for a town plan,” Read said. “Development gets construed as lots of buildings, which Bridgewater doesn’t want. Nobody really wants that around here … The town is actually very well built out, according to our zoning regulations, and that hasn’t changed since 2012.”

Given Bridgewater’s rural community and low water supplies, Read said the town is not suitable for intense development. Because of the town’s low water supplies, he said Bridgewater doesn’t have any sewers or public water availability, but instead has on-site wells and on-site septic systems.

“It’s a very sensitive area that way because it has no public water, no public sewer, no public transportation,” Read said. “It’s not really conducive to concentrated development — it was true 10 years ago and it’s true today. It reaffirms the concept that development is limited to single family homes within our zoning regulations. Could it change a little bit? Possibly, but the zoning regulations would have to change.”

The Planning and Zoning Commission adopted the new master plan on Nov. 17. Read said the Board of Selectmen will vote on the plan at its Dec. 13 meeting. The plan would then be submitted to the Connecticut State Library with copies of sent to the state Office of Policy and Management. 

Once the plan is fully approved, Read said it will be available on the town’s website.