Moratorium On Development Proposed

Building Pause Would Allow Time For Structured Brainstorming Session

Courant Staff Writer

June 12 2007

SIMSBURY -- Republican Selectman John Romano called Monday for a six-month moratorium on development while the town conducts the charette planning expert Victor Dover recommended at a presentation late last month at Henry James Memorial School.

Speaking at a selectmen's meeting at town hall, Romano suggested asking developers to hold off or withdraw applications until a determination has been made about what type of development is best suited for the town's northern and southern gateways and the town center.

"When considering developing the town we could address it from a more complete and global view," said Romano, an independent candidate for first selectman. "This would be critical for proper development of the town of Simsbury.

The term charette evolved from a pre-1900 exercise in France in which architectural students were given a design problem to solve within an allotted time. Today it refers to a creative process akin to visual brainstorming, used by design professionals to develop solutions to a design problem within a limited timeframe.

At his May 30 presentation, Dover, a principal with the Florida-based Dover-Kohl Partners, suggested the town conduct a charette process similar to one focused on the town center several years ago, when various designers and land-use experts conferred over several days with land-use boards and commissions and the public.

The day after Dover's presentation, Romano called on fellow selectmen to discuss funding additional consultations with him and a charette. On Monday, Romano suggested paying for both with money from town reserves and grants.

Romano's proposal drew no response from fellow selectmen.

The moratorium was one of several development-related issues discussed at the nearly two-hour meeting, including several involving the controversial Simsbury River Oaks project.

In response to Konover Development Corp. application for the project last week, two groups registered concerns about different aspects during the public audience portion of the meeting.

Scott Gaskill, a member of Save-Our-Simsbury - a grass-roots group opposing the big-box component of the 60-acre mixed-use project that includes a Target store - announced his group had begun conducting studies with experts to assess the risks of the proposed development.

Frank Untermyer, president of the Farmington River Watershed Association, cautioned selectmen about the potential for pollution of the river and it tributaries resulting from Konover's plan to pave or build on nearly 70 percent of the site.

Both groups also noted the River Oaks site is home to a 2,000- to 3,000-year-old Native American encampment documented by a state archeologist. Gaskill said two experts conducting studies with SOS would be weighing the historical and cultural significance of the encampment: David A. Poirier of the state Historical Preservation Office and Nicholas Bellatoni of the Office of State Archeology.

The zoning commission will take up the River Oaks application at its June 18 meeting, Town Planner Hiram Peck told selectmen. Under state law, a public hearing must be held within 65 days after that, he said.

Contact Loretta Waldman at

Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant