A committee met Wednesday night to begin updating Berlin’s 2013 Plan of Conservation and Development. Members brainstormed and debated to ensure both residential and economic concerns are reflected in the forthcoming document that offers recommendations on town development.
Chairing the committee is Bruce Moore, also chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee. Other members include Director of Development Services Hellyn Riggins, Economic Development Director Jim Mahoney, Vice Chair of the Economic Development Commission Ed Egazarian, Zoning Board of Appeals Vice Chair Bob Nieman, Conservation Commission Vice Chair Mike DeLorenzo, Zoning Board of Appeals Chair Tony Francalangia, and citizens Dennis Kern, and Rich Gagliardi.
When discussing the goal of preserving Berlin’s rural character, Moore stated, “It’s no longer the case that we’re a farming community.”
Other committee members disagreed, citing Berlin’s historic farmland and recently-purchased open space parcels as preserving Berlin’s heritage. Kern, who served as Chair of the 2003 Plan, added the idea of potentially attracting organic farms to the area in the next few decades, saying, “Small farms, five or six acres. We’re not going to see 30 and 40 acre dairy farms anymore.”
Committee members also suggested promoting Berlin’s strengths, attracting young professionals to the area, adding environmental regulations, and enabling new small businesses. Ed Egazarian envisioned housing developments for the 25-34 demographic, who would also bring new small businesses to Berlin. “In the next 30 to 40 years, Berlin will be extremely desirable because of our location,” Egazarian said, referencing Berlin’s central locus and easy highway access. He added, “Berlin is the pivot point of the state.”
The committee agreed to consider new ideas and cultivate suggestions from residents over the next two years as the plan is finalized. “We need to use this plan as a way of educating the developer, the private person, and the town. It’s all about education,” remarked Kern.
The Plan of Conservation and Development is a state-mandated document that each town in Connecticut must update every ten years. Berlin’s last Plan was ratified in 2003 and included recommendations on development rights, open space, and a stronger downtown, among other things.
Berlin residents will have several opportunities to voice concerns and vote on the Plan’s content before its 2013 ratification. Citizens can view the 2003 Plan at the Berlin Town Hall website.