Category: politics/government

Random Facts from Open Data: Zones

By , September 29, 2014 8:23 am

Until last week, zoning regulations did not permit a stadium in the B-1 district (Downtown Development District), the area the covers most of Downtown.

If City officials had met for over a year discussing the possibility of a baseball stadium when one had not been allowed where they were seeking to build it, one might ask what else is or is not allowed in different sections of Hartford.

At the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting where this matter was being discussed, there was also confusion about if a brewery — one of the proposed items for the Downtown North re-development project — would be permitted in this area.

Package stores are allowed, as evidenced by the existence of Spiritus Wines. There is no shortage of bars — see Allyn Street, Union Place, Asylum Street, and Ann Uccello Street. There are restaurants that serve beer and wine, along with the hard stuff.

But a brewery is different. There is manufacturing, not just serving or selling. This introduces the question of scale. Would the beverages brewed on site be only available for retail, or would larger, wholesale orders be filled?

The Planning & Zoning Commission defines brew pub as:

any building where beer is manufactured, stored, and bottled, with retail sale of alcoholic liquor to be consumed on the premises with or without the sale of food, with retail sale of sealed bottles or other sealed containers of beer brewed on such premises for consumption off the premises, and with wholesale sales of sealed bottles or other sealed containers of beer brewed on such premises, and as otherwise defined and regulated by the Liquor Control Act of the general statutes.

A former restriction on brew pubs in this area required that manufactured beverages be consumed on site only, and that the production area be no more than 2000SF.

This is no longer the case. What had been allowed in B-1 is also permitted in I-2 (Industrial District, mostly North Meadows and South Meadows), C-1 (Commercial District), and B-2 (Downtown Perimeter District). While a brew pub may exist in B-1, it requires a special permit.

Where, then, did the rumors come from that a brew pub would not be permitted in Downtown? Likely an outdated document found in the City website.

Get in the Zone for Economic Development

Nobody is arguing that Hartford does not need to diversify its types of employment. We can’t and shouldn’t all be working for insurance companies and nail salons. But, some have questioned if the proposed types of development in Downtown North fits Hartford’s needs. What could we have besides or instead of  a minor league baseball stadium? Continue reading 'Random Facts from Open Data: Zones'»

October 2014 Events

By , September 26, 2014 8:24 am

October 1

  • Free gallery talk with Carole P. Kunstadt whose Between the Lines exhibit is currently at Charter Oak Cultural Center. Noon.
  • AK Smith Visiting Scholars Series: “Society, Gender and Politics in Iranian Documentary Films”: The long history of the Kurdish people reveals a tangled web of geography, covering large portions
    of the modern-day Middle East. Road to Kurdistan examines the relationship between Iraqi and Iranian Kurdistan after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the subsequent opening of the Iraqi border. The film follows a group of Kurdish travelers crossing the border in search of their dreams. A young musician wants to promote his music in Kurdistan, the filmmaker’s father wants to find the grave of a famous Kurdish poet, and they all want to witness a land that has been off-limits to Iranian Kurds for many years. Of Kurdish descent, Persheng Vaziri ‘81 was born and raised in Iran and lives in New York City. She directed several personal documentaries about Iran such as Women Like Us and A Place Called Home. She is a producer for Bridge to Iran series on Link TV, and has worked on documentaries in the U.S. and Iran. A graduate of Trinity College and New York University, she is completing her PhD at Temple University in Philadelphia. For more information, contact Christina Bolio at Christina.Bolio@trincoll.edu.This will take place in the Smith House Reese Room of Cinestudio. Lecture at 4:30, reception at 6p.m.
  • Get HYPEd, the monthly networking event for younger (generally in the 25-35 range) adults, will be at Nixs on Front Street from 5:30-8:30pm. There’s no need to register. Admission is free. There are typically some complimentary snacks, but if you want other food or to drink you will have to pay for yourself or sweet-talk someone you meet into picking up the tab. This is described as “casual,” but we have learned that this really means “business casual.” (Those of us who work from home or in non-corporate careers need to have that type of warning). Bring your business cards.
  • Want another type of networking event? Come to Faculty Lounge, a free after-hours social event for educators. 5:30-7:30p.m. at the Connecticut Science Center. Pre-registration required.
  • Take a Jamming 101 class with Kelly and Caroline at the Hartford Public Library. Billings Forge describes it: “This hands on class will cover the basics of making simple jams. Kelly and Caroline will share techniques for making lower sugar jams; cover the use of pectin; introduce savory jams; and briefly review basic canning practices.” This is $45. Participants will leave with jars of jam, recipes, and an instructional booklet. 6-8p.m.
  • MakeHartford Show & Tell takes place from 6-9p.m. at 30 Arbor Street, B7. Bring something that you are working on, or just stop by to check out others’ projects. Free.
  • Edward Quinlan will discuss the new book The Justice Imperative: How Hyper-Incarceration Has Hijacked the American Dream. This free talk begins at 6p.m. in the Center for Contemporary Culture in the Hartford Public Library. Refreshments available at 5:30.
  • Trinity College Spanish Film Club will be screening La Yuma at 7p.m. in the McCook Auditorium at Trinity College. This is free and open to the general public. Post-film discussion will be in English and Spanish. Continue reading 'October 2014 Events'»

Stadiums Allowed, Just Maybe Not This One

By , September 24, 2014 12:02 am

Four hours into the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, a group of men in suits huddled in a circle outside of the Constitution Plaza conference room, the solemn exit quite different from the swagger with which they entered the building earlier Tuesday evening.

The infamous “done deal” did not get rubber-stamped by the PZC.

City Council can override Planning & Zoning’s absence of a favorable vote on the transfer of 1214 Main Street and 271-273 Windsor Street to DoNo Hartford, LLC; the lease of various parcels to DoNo Hartford, LLC and acceptance of 150 Windsor Street in lieu of taxes from DoNo Hartford, LLC; and the sublease of 1214 Main Street and 271-273 Windsor Street to Connecticut Double Play, LLC.

 

A Stadium Possible in Downtown

This vote came after one that passed — an amendment to a text amendment which would allow for a stadium to be constructed in B-1 zones, which is most of Downtown. Currently, stadiums are allowed in P and I-2 zones.

The text amendment was not meant to approve the specific stadium plan that has been public since June, but to make it possible for a stadium to be built. Continue reading 'Stadiums Allowed, Just Maybe Not This One'»

What is Allowed in Downtown North?

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By , September 17, 2014 12:50 pm

With another hearing on the Downtown North Redevelopment Plan tonight, residents might want to know how this fits in with One City, One Plan — Hartford’s plan of conservation and development which underwent a long process involving many public meetings of its own. Links to that document have been disappeared from the City of Hartford website in recent days, making that task impossible to those who did not have the foresight to download or obtain personal copies of the document meant to guide City development over the next ten years.

Here is the document for readers to peruse:

Downtown Development OCOP

There was also a document created in 2009 by the Perez administration. In this, the vision for the Trumbull-Main area is spelled out: residential, small offices, small-scale retail, and small service businesses. Continue reading 'What is Allowed in Downtown North?'»

Special Public Hearing on Stadium Scheduled

By , September 11, 2014 6:52 am

There will be a special public hearing held at the Parker Memorial Community Center, 2621 Main Street, on September 17 at 6:30p.m.

Special Public Hearing Notice September 17, 2014

 

Questions Remain on Downtown North Revelopment

By , September 9, 2014 12:17 pm

Downtown North Redevelopment is back on the agenda for tonight’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. This document has been prepared for the meeting:

Downtown North Redevelopment PZ 090914 V2 FINAL

Since City officials announced plans to build a stadium last June, more questions have been raised than answered. Among those questions:

  • Do all parcels hold considerable market, retail, residential, and mixed-use development potential?
  • Have all of these parcels been completely surveyed and do topographical maps exist for all parcels? How are developers able to do a proper feasibility study without designs overlaying the topo?  Can that be done without site or land surveys?
  • Did the City have a recent market appraisal done for all of the parcels?
  • Are there environmental reports on all of these parcels? Are there any underground storage tanks/sewer lines at these parcels that will need to be moved? How much will it cost for asbestos remediation at 150 Windsor Street? What is the magnitude of these potential environmental issues? Who pays for environmental remediation costs?
  • How much will it cost for the street realignment of Trumbull and Pleasant, along with the abandonment of Windsor? Who pays? How will this impact the flow of traffic with several nearby schools and colleges?
  • Are there unpaid taxes on any of these properties? What is the City doing to collect?
  • Is there a reason that the commercial developer is able to have these properties gifted? Isn’t the norm for the commercial developer to purchase the parcels they plan to develop? Is there a reason that the developers are not being asked to pay full fair market value for this land? Continue reading 'Questions Remain on Downtown North Revelopment'»

Salvation Army Shelter Saved…This Season

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In August it came to light that the budget for the Salvation Army’s Marshall House had been cut. Conversations on restoring that funding appeared to be going nowhere in City Hall, but once the issue was given local media attention, there was a rush to find ways to move money around. What kind of city would Hartford be if it cut the funding for one of the few shelters that serves women and families, and acts as a no-freeze shelter on especially cold days?

The promise to restore funding was made official at Monday’s City Council meeting when the transfer of $100,000 from the Sundry Account to the Department of Health & Human Services was passed.

Silence on Saving the Salvation Shelter

By , August 28, 2014 7:28 am

Keeping homeless shelters open is not a new struggle in Hartford, but this time, the some $100,000 that was expected for the Salvation Army Marshall House vanished between the recommended budget and the adopted budget. A mere five-minute walk from what will be the CTfastrak Sigourney Street Station, the Marshall House has provided shelter for single women and families since 1974.

The adopted budget for the “Senior and Community Services Program” is $2.13M, down from the $2.2M in the recommended budget. This is where budgeting for the Marshall House, which serves as a no-freeze shelter for families, can be found in the City document. The 2013-2014 budget was $2.36M and reasons for the decrease in funding have been vague; the spending difference is explained only for the Health and Human Services budget as a whole. Continue reading 'Silence on Saving the Salvation Shelter'»

September 2014 Events

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By , August 26, 2014 9:46 am

September 1

  • Shop the Park Street Farmers’ Market (161 Washington) from 9am-1pm.
  • The First Presbyterian Church (136 Capitol) will be holding its farmers’ market from 10am-1pm today.
  • Chabad Chevra is holding a Labor Day Kosher BBQ to welcome new and returning students. Free food, t-shirts, and Israeli music. They say, “stop by to get a mezuzah for your dorm room.” This event will take place at Alumni Plaza (residential side of University of Hartford campus next to University Commons. 5-6:30pm.
  • Free jazz at Black-eyed Sally’s, 350 Asylum Street. 8-11pm. There’s no cover, but don’t be stingy — if you want to hear local music, you need to keep the venues running.

September 2

  • The farmers’ market at the Old State House (800 Main) runs from 10am-1pm.
  • The West End Farmers’ Market is open on Tuesdays from 4-7pm on the Clemens Green on Farmington Avenue.
  • There is no public hearing at the Board of Education workshop meetings, but if you like to stay informed on the state of public education, it may be worth your time. This meeting will be held in the Achievement First Hartford Academy, 305 Greenfield Street, from 5-7pm.
  • For those who like to compete, tonight is Real Bored (Games) at Real Art Ways. They provide the games, but you can also bring your own. 6-10pm. Free. 56 Arbor Street. Continue reading 'September 2014 Events'»

Scrappy Small Business Spotlights Sustainable, Local Economy

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By , August 25, 2014 9:54 am

Alexander Williams interned at Built It Green! NYC while at Fordham, working on both the abstract, office end of its compost program, along with the physical collection and maintenance of food scraps. From there, he spent a few months as the compost coordinator for GrowNYC. Both non-profits taught Williams about the logistics of turning waste into a usefulness substance.

Experience alone does not pay the bills, so Williams headed out of the big city and back to his hometown of West Hartford. With his degree in Environmental Studies, Economics, and Urban Planning, he was looking for work aligned with this background. He found Blue Earth Compost. Susannah Castle, its founder, wanted to move on. Right place, right time, right background. Williams stepped in as the new owner this past spring.

Blue Earth Compost is small, with three residential clients in Hartford and 35 in West Hartford. There are a few businesses that participate, including the Kitchen at Billings Forge and reSET. Continue reading 'Scrappy Small Business Spotlights Sustainable, Local Economy'»

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