Category: planning & zoning

Family Faces Eviction from West End Home, Despite Paying Mortgage on Time

By , November 20, 2014 12:00 pm

Interracial marriage was not permitted in many states during the early 1960′s. In fact, anti-miscegenation laws existed in the majority of the United States through the middle of the last century, allowing for racism to dictate the nature of marital and intimate relationships. The Supreme Court struck down those laws in 1967.

A few years later, the push for same-sex marriage began. Again, hateful legislation defined marriage in a way that includes some, while excluding others. It took a few decades for this movement to take hold, and there has been much backlash along the way, as one can witness through the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and the incessant verbal diarrhea from pundits. In 2010, one state began to fight against the federal government’s restrictive definition of marriage. Many others followed. Same-sex couples can not be legally married in the entirety of the United States yet, but there is no doubt that opinion has shifted toward that happening eventually.

Sometimes the law is wrong. When it is wrong, we are obligated to recognize that and change it. These are, after all, civil laws, not God’s laws.

Hartford

The West End is currently looking at what appears to be an outmoded law:

The purpose of the R-8 district in the city is to provide for and protect single-family residences sited on a lot having a minimum area of twelve thousand (12,000) square feet. The R-8 district provisions encourage the future development of these very low density residential areas for primarily residential purposes by prohibiting conversions, roomers, most institutional uses and all business uses.

On the surface, this might look sensible. Who wants factories or prisons in her backyard? Zoning can be useful in that way.

All of Scarborough Street is zoned for R-8 use (see above). The language is seemingly vague. What does “primarily residential purposes” mean? On this street, in the same zone, a property is owned by the University of Connecticut. In an article the Courant ran on this, there was no mention of neighborhood opposition to what is used as a place for donor events. The Wadsworth Atheneum owns a property on the street. So does Jumoke Academy. Two properties are owned by trustees, another is a land trust. There are two churches operating on Scarborough Street. This leaves 21 other properties, one of which has been on the market for several years.

The issue at hand is 68 Scarborough Street. Continue reading 'Family Faces Eviction from West End Home, Despite Paying Mortgage on Time'»

Constant Change of Plans for City Council and Committee

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By , October 27, 2014 8:33 am

A flurry of emails have been sent in recent days for City Council and committee meetings tonight:

Agenda Council Meeting October 27, 2014

Continue reading 'Constant Change of Plans for City Council and Committee'»

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'»

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?'»

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'»

Alienated Public Demands a Voice in City Hall

By , July 23, 2014 8:06 am

from 21 July 2014 march

From the moment Mayor Segarra stood in front of City Hall to announce his plan to relocate the New Britain Rock Cats to Hartford on the public dime, there have been unanswered questions:

How exactly would this (fully or partially) publicly-funded private business provide true economic development for the city?  How many full time, living wage jobs would this create for residents of Hartford? Why were Hartford voters and residents excluded from the conversation until this was declared a “done deal” by the mayor? Why build in this location instead of at the existing Dillon Stadium near Colt Park? Why were key stakeholders in this area omitted from the secret dealings, finding out only after word of the deal reached the media? Why was a stadium not included in the Downtown North Plan and why is this able to displace the types of developments, like mixed-use residential, that had been discussed with residents for months? What kind of environmental studies have been done and how would the expected increase in traffic of this area impact Hartford’s already high asthma rates? Why did the mayor in his press release announcing that he wanted the stadium relocation agreement item withdrawn from the City Council agenda, fail to indicate that he would be making no effort to withdraw the related resolution for City purchase of 271 and 273 Windsor Street, a 2.08 acre vacant parcel considered necessary for the stadium development, a parcel that would cost the City of Hartford $1.7M? 

Mary Sanders of Hartford

The meetings of people in opposition to the so-called “done deal” began back in June, with various groups gathering across Hartford. These smaller discussions merged after the first round of meetings happening over one weekend. Residents went from private living rooms to a centrally-located cultural space. Meetings went on during World Cup games, during the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, during a time of year when many are away on vacation. Those who are baseball fans have said they do not appreciate games being played when it comes to politics and tax dollars. Continue reading 'Alienated Public Demands a Voice in City Hall'»

Craving Civic Meetings?

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By , July 15, 2014 1:07 pm

If it’s listed here, it’s open to the public. You do not have to speak or know anything about what is going on to attend.

July 15: Frog Hollow NRZ Meeting at 5pm in The Lyceum on Lawrence Street. Agenda includes discussion of Broad Street streetscape improvements, the future of the Hartford Public Library’s Park Branch, proposal to relocate the Monument to the Puerto Rican Family, and an allegedly illegal driveway.

July 16: The Historic Commissions will meet at 4pm at 260 Constitution Plaza (plaza level conference room).

July 17: Learn about where the Hartford Public Library’s Park Branch (Park and Babcock) may be relocated and provide input to officials. The meeting will be held at the Park Branch of the library at 5pm.

July 17: The Hartford 2000 board meeting will include an update from Rex Fowler on the proposed downtown supermarket. This will occur during the 5:30-8pm meeting at CREC, 111 Charter Oak Avenue.

July 21: A public hearing will be held directly before the City Council meeting. The public hearing begins at 6pm. Arrive early to sign up to speak. This is held in Council Chambers in the municipal building/City Hall. (One of the stadium resolutions — #10 from the 6/19/14 agenda — has been withdrawn, but the other remains)

July 22: Planning and Zoning Commission meets at 5pm in the plaza level conference room at 260 Constitution Plaza.

Proposed Crosswalks, Sharrows, and Bike Lanes That May Happen During Your Lifetime

By , May 29, 2014 3:36 pm

The area of State House Square that had been proposed to change into a lane for buses.

With so little useful information traveling between City Hall and the general public, it is easy to get the impression that projects have stalled when that’s hardly the case. Continue reading 'Proposed Crosswalks, Sharrows, and Bike Lanes That May Happen During Your Lifetime'»

Proposed Changes to Sigourney and Capitol Area Focus of Public Meeting

By , May 7, 2014 10:08 pm

Part of the proposed changes to Sigourney Street area

Most interesting about the public meeting attended by a dozen people tonight was the total omission of Senator Fonfara’s bold move to re-open Flower Street. His provision, which was voted through by State Senate and House on Tuesday night as part of a bond package, states that the north-south street which runs parallel to Sigourney and Broad, must remain open to vehicular traffic for a minimum of twenty hours each day. Currently, the street is barricaded in the middle, not allowing even emergency vehicles through.

The public meeting focused on the initial design phase of streetscaping around what will be the Sigourney Street New Britain-to-Hartford Busway station, with changes mostly planned for areas at and south of that platform. The presentation and conversation covered potential changes elsewhere in Frog Hollow, including along Capitol Avenue and Broad Street.

City of Hartford, TPA Design Group, Greater Hartford Transit District, and CTfastrak/CT DOT were all at the table, with GHTD and TPA leading most of the presentation. As hopeful as anyone wants to be about change to what currently showcases poor design and maintenance, the cynicism that comes with years of seeing people fall through on promises was evident in public discussion. For some, it seemed like after the DOT presented designs, the City came forward with designs for the same areas. Are we spending money on duplicate services? Who takes the lead? What falls to the side? In this case, we learned that the DOT has no money marked for Capitol Avenue streetscape improvements; the City is leading all of that. Continue reading 'Proposed Changes to Sigourney and Capitol Area Focus of Public Meeting'»

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