On the Move: Berlin Votes to Join Capitol Region Council of Governments

With the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency set to dissolve as part of recently passed state legislation, the town has elected to move into a larger capital region consortium rather than move to Naugatuck Valley.

Dennis Kern speaks before the Berlin Town Council on Tuesday night. (Credit: Jason Vallee)
Dennis Kern speaks before the Berlin Town Council on Tuesday night. (Credit: Jason Vallee)
There are a lot of unknowns in what the change and consolidation of regional planning agencies on a state level will mean and even bigger questions regarding the financial aspects of it, but after a discussion that consumed more than 30 minutes Tuesday night, members of the Berlin Town Council have voted to join the Capital Region Council of Governments.

Council members approved the motion by a 5-2 vote, with Councilors Dave Evans and Charles Paonessa opposed. Berlin now joins area towns of Plainville and Southington in requesting membership to CRCOG, an organization that will likely be part of a planning organization just shy of 40 towns moving forward.

“I don’t see that connection to Naugatuck Valley,” said Deputy Mayor Kevin Murphy. “If we move (to that region), we are still under the shadow of Waterbury and other towns and when they start planning for their region, Berlin is more likely to be left out. We have less in common (with those towns).”

The move comes after a new October restructuring requiring members of the former Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency to join other area agencies. Berlin, one of seven towns in the agency, was left to choose from CRCOG and the Council of Governments of Central Naugatuck Valley, Berlin Town Manager Denise McNair explained.

Berlin resident Dennis Kern, a former chair of the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency, said he would have preferred to see the town move to the Naugatuck because he believes it would provide better opportunity with fewer towns involved in the planning process.

“This move jeopardizes the role Berlin has by minimizing their voice,” Kern said. “(In Naugatuck) there would be one voice in 20 versus one in 35 with CRCOG.”

The town has multiple partnerships and strong ties with New Britain, he said, and should have waited to consider what they would have done.

Evans and Paonessa said while they aren’t convinced that either agency would provide more benefit, they were uncomfortable choosing just yet because there wasn’t enough data to suggest which agency would provide Berlin more bang for their buck.

McNair said the partnership, however, would provide the town with an opportunity to continue their current programs, as well as partnerships with the mid state alliance. McNair also noted that with more towns, there is opportunity for the agency to possibly bring in more money to be spread among members as well.

“The truth is, there isn’t an example to look at or any clear idea of exactly how this will affect towns financially,” she said.

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