2014 and Previous Awards
2014 INNOVATIVE PLAN
Town of Waterford Town Center Vision and Strategic Plan
Waterford had a long-held goal of creating a plan to address Jorden Village and the Civic Triangle. With a Vibrant Communities grant from the CT Trust for Historic Preservation, the town embarked on the task of devising an achievable plan to make these special places walkable and vibrant, protect historic attributes, and establish acceptable development standards for the auto-oriented commercial district immediately to its east.
The plan engaged a wide variety of citizens through a three day charrette and press outreach, fostering awareness by the political leadership for support of future implementation and funding.
The Plan is honored for:
• addressing competing issues of preservation and development,
• recognizing that planning is only the first step in achieving objectives, and
• and for providing excellent models for village district regulations and design guidelines
2014 MEDIA AWARD
Casino Urbanization, Suburban Chinatowns & the Contested American Landscape Norwich natives Stephen Fan and Shane Keaney received a Media Award for their multi- media examination of the effects of urbanization and immigration spurred by casino development in Southeastern Connecticut.
Fan grew up in Norwich and was one of the few Asian students at his school. After attending Harvard for undergraduate and graduate studies, he became an adjunct assistant professor in art history and architectural studies at Connecticut College. Witnessing the cultural transformation from the early years of casino development in southeastern Connecticut provided him a unique perspective on how land use regulations and physical context can collide when a cultural shift defies societal norms.
Fan partnered with fellow Norwich resident Shane Keaney, now a graphic artist in New York, to create a multi-media exhibit exploring the controversial conversion of single family homes into multifamily communities by immigrant Chinese casino workers. The exhibition, displayed at the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, invited visitors to reflect on the values, practices and public policies that affect housing in Connecticut. In March, 2014, a daylong workshop further explored Fan’s and Keaney’s findings, with over 100 people attending. Their work is now reflected in a book, edited by Fan.
In addition to recognizing the innovative and provocative use of media, CCAPA also recognizes this project’s profound social and cultural contribution.
2014 EDUCATION & OUTREACH AWARD
Since 2007, the Connecticut Land Use Academy has been training municipal land use commissioners on roles and responsibilities, legal requirements, and how to review a development plan, among other topics. To date, over 1,300 people from 156 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities have taken part in these trainings.
The Academy is recognized for forging a strong partnership between UConn, the Connecticut Bar Association, the state’s regional planning organizations, and the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (CT OPM). And it continues to seek other partners particularly as new issues emerge.
CT OPM funded the Academy for its first three years, but since 2009 the program has been supported solely by grants and limited base support from UConn. Yet, this priceless training is provided free of charge. CCAPA is proud of and deeply appreciative of the Land Use Academy’s efforts and achievements in training local land use commissioners.
2013 Innovative Plan
This award is given out to a plan or land use regulation that uniquely addresses a contemporary, unique or challenging issue. This year, two plans were awarded in this category.
City of Norwich Plan of Conservation and Development
The innovation the Awards Committee specifically recognized in Norwich’s plan is the use of locational guides rather than a “Future Land Use Plan.” As a result, Norwich is the first community in Connecticut to integrate the state’s approach into local planning. The plan was also recognized for its emphasis on implementation, with a section to support policy guidance and implementation. Plans are communications tools for policymakers to convey thoughtful approaches to balancing the forces of conservation of resources and development of land. By focusing on the geographic aspects of desirable policies for the City, this plan provides outstanding graphics to communicate the connection between places and policies. According to one of the nominations for the plan, “it is an easy- to-use (and apply) municipal document clearly articulating policy orientation and exposition of the city’s objectives and deliverables…”
Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency Plan of Conservation and Development
The Awards Committee recognized the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency’s (CCRPA) new approach to regional plans and focus on sustainable land use. The Committee was impressed by the strategic thought and consideration that went into CCRPA’s approach prior to embarking on the planning process, rather than relying on a cookbook approach as we often do with our POCDs.
Like municipalities, Connecticut’s regional planning organizations must adopt a regional Plan of Conservation and Development every ten years. The conventional starting point of many of these plans, which primarily exist to guide land use in the region, has been a build- out analysis. While this is an important analytical tool, quantifying how many more buildings and parking lots that can be absorbed before a region reaches its tipping point is fundamentally at odds with the notion of sustainable development.
CCRPA embraced form-based and performance zoning, and used a hybrid approach to develop its plan. Using remote sensing data, land in the region was divided into five categories according to the intensity of development that would be appropriate and that the surrounding infrastructure could support. Recommendations were developed specific to each category to ensure that the costs of future growth could be met.
In addition, “plan area” overlays were superimposed on downtowns, village centers, and crossroads to differentiate them from surrounding lands, thereby re-focusing the region’s communities on the places that make them unique and quintessentially New England. This approach, combining development intensity with plan area overlays, will result in flexibility in land use to preserve community character while promoting sustainable development across the region.
2013 Education & Outreach Award
This award is given for a planning project or initiative that resulted in significant advancement of a community’s comprehension of planning issues or outcomes.
In 2013, CCAPA recognized the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) for its “Come Home to Downtown” pilot program. The program demonstrates the untapped potential of downtown buildings – our first examples of mixed use development.
Through a successful collaboration between the CMSC and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority a comprehensive approach to revitalizing downtowns was developed to educate owners of small, under-utilized downtown properties and provide technical assistance to the host community. CMSC chose three communities: Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury, as well as three property owners and their buildings to focus the pilot program.
CMSC worked with municipal officials and the building owners to develop viable redevelopment options including:
- Determining what financing would likely be needed for redevelopment;
- Performing an assessment of zoning and regulatory requirements;
- Reviewing the downtown management function; and
- Measuring the downtown’s walkability
Specific recommendations for improving the buildings, including a recommended floor plan designed to attract new residents and bring market rate housing downtown, was also provided to each property owner. Each of the buildings was chosen in part because they are representative of the types of buildings found in downtowns all across Connecticut.
Therefore, they serve as models for the redevelopment process in other downtowns.
Through this pilot program,
property owners and municipalities were taught how to re- awaken downtowns by
reverting what many developers have considered functionally obsolete buildings
to the mixed-use assets they once were.
2013 Implementation Award
This award is for a planning project or initiative of unusually high merit for which there are demonstrated results.
For 2013, the Awards Committee recognized Landworks Development, LLC for seizing an opportunity in Simsbury’s new Planned Area Development zoning regulation to develop an innovative mixed use development that is the first project approved and constructed under the new regulations. The development, the Mill at Hop Brook, includes a restaurant, apartments and town homes all within walking distance of Simsbury Town Center which offers a variety of commercial and civic services. The development runs along the popular Farmington Valley Greenway.
An existing gristmill, with its views of Hop Brook, was renovated into a 4-star and highly successful restaurant – Millwright’s. The beautifully rehabilitated brownstone also contains several offices, some of which are connected to the development, while others are completely separate. Mill Commons contains 88 apartments including four completely separate gatehouse style residences and a meeting house. Another section of the development, currently under construction, consists of 20 townhouses which will meet current demand for housing young professionals seeking apartment living and empty-nesters or retirees looking to down-size in a mixed-age development.
The project fully embodies the Town’s new regulations and is a complement to the existing setting. Landworks embraced the opportunity to collaborate closely with the town and create a successful development from both the community and developer’s point of view.
2013 Physical Planning Award
This award is given to a concept, design or plan that improves the human experience of the built environment. The Town of New Milford received the Chapter’s 2013 Physical Planning Award for its Transportation Management Plan.
This comprehensive transportation plan is a creative yet practical multi-modal plan that treats bicycles and sidewalks as key components of connectivity within the Town’s transportation system. The outlined transportation system improvements balance operations with the preservation of community character, environmental resources and promotion of economic development.
Public involvement was key to New Milford’s successful planning process, and included:
- An online survey to provide initial input of thoughts, ideas and opinions
- Community workshops to discuss concepts
- Inclusion of CTDOT in the planning process
- A “Walkshop” to examine conditions in the field
The final plan illustrates the alternatives discussed and evaluates them against a set of multi-modal performance standards established during the public process. The methodology, public involvement and blueprint for the future serve as an example to communities that want to address traffic congestion in a downtown area to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors as well.
As stated by Tim O’Brien, President of the New Milford River Trail Association, “By acknowledging that busses, bikes and sensible shoes are necessary ingredients in a system of transportation that serves people, not just cars and trucks, this plan is a great step towards improving safety, economic development and quality of life for the Town of New Milford”.
2013 Bruce Hoben Award
This award is given in memory of Bruce Hoben, whose selfless involvement with and longtime leadership in the Chapter along with his many contributions to the practice of planning in Connecticut, truly exemplify the spirit of distinguished service.
The Chapter chose to honor Chris Wood, President of Woods Planning, LLC for his exceptional leadership and expertise as the chapter’s Government Relations Chair and his longstanding commitment to serving our chapter and the planning profession.
For the past eleven years, Chris has served on the Executive Committee of CCAPA, the last eight of which as the Government Relations Chair. In his work on Chapter legislative affairs, Chris spent countless hours commuting to the Capitol and testifying on behalf of Connecticut planners on bills and proposals in front of the Planning and Development Committee. Chris continually provided detailed reporting and up-to-date knowledge to the Executive Committee and Chapter on the often complex issues he was dealing with at the Capitol. In his time as Government Relations Chair, Chris prepared over 500 documents on behalf of CCAPA on issues ranging from bonding to Responsible Growth and from Eminent Domain to Zoning Enforcement. Chris ensured that Connecticut Planners had a voice at the Capitol on issues of concern to them.
Chris has been a mentor to the members of his committee, in particular to our new Government Relations Chair, Jana Roberson, who says that Chris has taught her a great amount in the time she has worked with him, always with a positive nature and sense of humor. Jana says that Chris is the kind of speaker that, when he starts, you take notes. Chris VanDeHoef of the Capitol Group, the Chapter’s lobbyist states, “Working with Chris was an absolute pleasure. The world of the state legislature can be overwhelming and unpredictable and Chris was always prepared and ready for anything. A person that prepared is always a treat to work with…he will be missed.”
Before starting Woods Planning, LLC, Chris was an advisor to the Northwestern Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative, the Director of the Connecticut Department of Public Utilities, the Director of the Connecticut Siting Council, a member of the CT Energy Advisory Board and the Pomperaug Watershed Coalition and served as the Town Planner for the Town of Woodbury.
The Chapter thanks Chris for his dedicated service and congratulates him on this well- deserved award.