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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    Groton to update Plan of Conservation and Development

    Groton ― Housing, climate resilience, and open space and development are among the topics the town’s next Plan of Conservation and Development will tackle.

    The town will consider questions, such as where development should happen in light of the changing climate, what is the right amount of open space and conservation in town, what are the community’s recreation and transportation needs, how to diversify its employment base, and how the town should approach decisions on its vacant school properties, town planning officials said.

    It also will look at the demand for housing, particularly as the community has seen overall pressure on the housing market and an expansion at Electric Boat, they said.

    The town plans to seek comments from residents to find out what they want the community to look like, beginning early next year.

    A Plan of Conservation and Development serves as the town’s short and long-range planning document to help dictate what the town wants to do now and in the future, according to Planning and Development Director Jon Reiner. Under state law, the town has to update or rewrite its Plan of Conservation and Development every 10 years, which means it needs to adopt its next plan by June 2026.

    Reiner said the goal is to create a document that people use as a resource and that will help chart the town’s course forward for the next 10 years or so.

    Assistant Director of Planning and Development Deb Jones said the Planning and Zoning Commission has held initial conversations about what the process of developing the plan and what the final document should look like. The town plans to use that information when crafting a Request for Proposals document to hire a consultant.

    Jones said the commission wants the plan to focus on larger visions for the town and look at how Groton fits into the region. For example, how transportation moves throughout the region, not just Groton.

    Jones and Reiner said the town plans to take a new public outreach approach in an effort to hear from more people across the community about the plan. This means not only holding meetings at the Town Hall Annex, as the town usually does, but also going out into the community to meet with nonprofits, neighborhood groups, renters, and people associated with the Naval Submarine Base, among others.

    The Plan of Conservation and Development helps identify issues and may recommend a deeper study of them, such as how the town studied and changed the zoning for the Poquonnock Bridge neighborhood, following the 2016 Plan of Conservation and Development, said Jones. The 2016 plan identified the neighborhood as an area where “sense of place should be enhanced.”

    As the town considers the future of its unused properties, Reiner said it could be that the plan recommends a deeper dive into individual properties, such as the state-owned Mystic Education Center, to get more feedback from the neighborhood and town on the best use of the property.

    The town’s housing market analysis, affordable housing plan, recreation plan and initiatives to plan for climate resilience will inform the Plan of Conservation and Development, Jones and Reiner said.

    Starting in the new year, the town plans to post a schedule of community engagement sessions on the website www.greatergroton.com.

    k.drelich@theday.com

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