or Not to Speak
Big-box development is a major issue to
It started when Simsbury Homeowners Advocating Responsible Expansion, or
SHARE a group of about of 1,300
The land for the planned development is commonly known as the CL & P
property, named for former owner, the Connecticut Light and Power Company.
Currently owned by Mark Greenberg, the property is on the east side of
A big-box tenant that is not situated on Route 44 would be
"inappropriate for the town," Bill Miller, a SHARE spokesperson says.
The group's website adds that it would adversely affect traffic and the unique
character and beauty of
Konover and Associates officials say their plan would fit in with
In an effort to block the plan, SHARE submitted a proposal to the Simsbury Planning Commission to be included in the town's Plan of Conservation and Development, which is being updated. The SHARE proposal would, in part, prohibit single-use retail structures over 30,000 square feet anywhere in town, except on Route 44.
The group has also asked candidates for the board of selectmen to vocalize their positions before the upcoming Nov. 8 elections.
"They are leaders in town, we have an election coming up and this is a huge issue in town. We feel it's important for voters to know their position," Miller says.
However, Town Attorney Robert DeCrescenzo advised board of selectmen members to refrain from taking a public stance on the issue. In a letter to Republican First Selectman Tom Vincent, he explains that while the board has no zoning authority, it does have an opportunity to offer input. To make sure that future land-use hearings are conducted without predetermined views (as law requires), selectmen should reserve their comments, he said.
SHARE members disagreed, noting that since members of the board of selectmen won't vote on the plan, they are free to comment on it.
Despite the town attorney's advice, two incumbent candidates, John Hampton, a Democrat, and John Romano, a Republican, have said they won't support big-box development in town. While some praise them (SHARE backs both candidates), others criticize them for speaking out.
First Selectman Vincent says he is not sure whether Hampton and Romano will have to remove themselves from the deliberations to avoid a conflict of interest, but Republican Deputy First Selectman Joel Mandell says that they will have to when certain issues come before the board. "They didn't follow the advice of our town counsel," he says.
Hampton and Romano say that, as elected officials, they should publicly voice their opinions. They agree that new Democratic candidates Dave Ryan (running for first selectman), Ferg Jansen and Chip Houlihan (both selectmen candidates) should withhold public comment on the issue. Ryan and Jansen sit on the town planning commission. Houlihan is on the zoning commission.
"As far as I'm concerned, incumbents should take a position. That's what we are elected to do," Romano says.
"If you say 'no comment,' you're not accountable,"