Consultants envision 'town center' in plan for Jordan Village

Waterford - Consultants on the Jordan Village Main Street project presented ideas for land use and zoning changes that they thought would facilitate a town center feel and with it, economic development, at a special Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Thursday.

Urban Designer Ernest Hutton Jr., of Hutton Associates Inc., explained three key proposals for development of Jordan Village and surrounding areas: changing the zoning of Jordan Village to mixed use; making better use of Jordan Green, next to the library; and consolidating various zones along Route 1 and Rope Ferry Road under an "overlay" village district.

Landscape architect Elena Pascarella, of Saratoga Associates, who is on the consulting team, said the combination of proposed changes "looks holistically at the Waterford Town Center."

Planning Director Dennis Goderre said the proposals are merely ideas being put forward for discussion. He suggested to commissioners that discussion of Thursday's presentation be added to the agenda for the Monday commission meeting.

The consultants are working with grant funding from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation's Vibrant Communities Initiative to explore how the village, which is the oldest settlement in Waterford and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1990, can be transformed into a town center.

The presentation stemmed beyond Jordan Village to include other areas along Route 1 and Rope Ferry Road, beginning at Willetts Avenue and extending to the outer border of Jordan Village near Lager Hill Road.

"We've sort of stepped beyond what we were hired to do," said Hutton.

Hutton suggested that Jordan Green could be reworked as a miniature version of Manhattan's Bryant Park, with portable food stands and wireless Internet. He said the park could provide space for events such as a puppetry festival hosted by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.

Hutton also spoke about opportunities to expand parking space.

Hutton and the other consultants advised that the zoning of Jordan Village be changed to mixed use. The village currently contains a mix of business and residential zones, according to Goderre.

The consultants also said that they think aspects of the zoning, such as permitted building setbacks, should be tweaked to suit existing development.

"Zoning regulations sort of came in historically after all these historic towns were developed," explained consultant Sara Nelson, an architect with Nelson Edwards Company Architects LLC.

An overlay village district would be mostly conceptual and would encompass all areas that the consultants think show potential for development. The overlay would not change the zoning of areas encompassed.

Goderre declined to share the PowerPoint presentation Hutton used to illustrate the consultants' ideas.

t.townsend@theday.com

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