Community, PZC split on South Windsor housing moratorium – Journal Inquirer

SOUTH WINDSOR — The Planning and Zoning Commission closed its public hearing on a proposed one-year housing moratorium Tuesday night, with most community members and the board split on the idea.

If approved, the PZC would declare an immediate moratorium on applications and approvals for single-family residential subdivisions and resubdivisions that would create three or more lots, and special exception permits for single-family, duplex, and multi-family residential housing projects. Under the proposal, the PZC could vote to lift the moratorium before the 12-month period ends.

Staff said Thursday that upcoming agendas are not finalized, but the PZC could decide on the moratorium at its March 8 meeting.

Existing projects — namely the Geissler’s Plaza apartments, the pending Tempo apartment expansion and its zone change proposal for Evergreen Walk, conversion of a nursing home on Main Street into senior housing, and any existing approved subdivision lots — would not be affected by the moratorium, Planning Director Michele Lipe said.

“Any housing units or general plans for housing prior to the effective date of this moratorium will not be affected,” Lipe said

Seven residents submitted letters of opposition to the moratorium, citing reduced revenue to the town, possible friction with developers, and a lack of evidence to support the need for a moratorium. Two letters were submitted in support of the moratorium, and three residents spoke in person in favor.

PZC member Stephen Wagner said much has been discussed about a moratorium and addressing issues in the regulations, with some directly cited in the text of the moratorium, but little has actually been done to address those issues in the years since.

“We’ve actually wasted two public hearings discussing a moratorium when we could have been discussing the underlying issues,” Wagner said, adding that he would also be willing to participate in a review of the town’s zoning regulations without a moratorium.

PZC member Robert Vetere said the board needs to properly evaluate the reason for having a moratorium, as a small number of applications received in the last eight years would have been affected.

“I think if all we’re looking for is to make time to have these meetings and not draw conclusions … I think we need to have some kind of a meeting first to decide if this moratorium is really going to accomplish what we want it to accomplish,” Vetere said.

Town Councilman Phil Koboski told the PZC Tuesday night that the moratorium would give the town time to ensure infrastructure and safety needs are being met.

“I think if we pass it, this is going to allow the town to get a better understanding of where we are in terms of providing services to residents,” Koboski said.

Republican Town Chairwoman Kathleen Daugherty said Tuesday that the town has grown in “leaps and bounds” over the past 25 years, and taking the time to review the regulations would promote healthy growth.

“Planning and Zoning sets the tone for South Windsor … it sets the atmosphere that makes South Windsor a great place to live and grow and work,” Daugherty said.

PZC Chairman Bart Pacekonis said the town’s zoning regulations definitely need an overhaul.

PZC members “who have been sitting on this board for a while have seen a lot of applications come and go, we’ve had a lot of comments, a lot of improvements that we’ve wanted to make on those applications but our current regulations didn’t allow for those improvements,” Pacekonis said.

PZC member Michael LeBlanc said he believes some areas of the zoning regulations are weak and it would benefit the town for the PZC to have some time to step back and hash through them.

“We need to stop and take a look at it and see where we’re at. I’m not saying it’s going to take a year,” LeBlanc said.

PZC member Alan Cavagnaro said at the meeting Tuesday night that the PZC can still make revisions without a moratorium.

“If it means Tuesday night meetings for the rest of the year, I’m down for it,” Cavagnaro said, adding that he is opposed to the moratorium because there is no research into the impacts, with the possibility of discouraging development.

Joseph covers East Hartford and South Windsor. He joined the JI in July 2021. Joseph graduated from the University of Connecticut and he is an avid guitarist and coffee enthusiast.