Board of Selectmen meets

By:Ken Harrison , Staff Writer


The Simsbury Board of Selectmen received an update on the status of the town's newly revised plan of conservation and development that was given by Director of Community Planning William Voelker.

Voelker explained that the plan, which was last updated in 1994, is still being worked on by several town departments and is expected to be finalized in December when a public hearing will be held on the changes that have been made to it. The reformed plan will outline the path that the town takes in areas such as economic development, housing and other community related issues, which Voelker said will help lead Simsbury into a bright future.      
"The Planning Commission and all of the other boards and committees that have worked on updating this plan have done a great job and we have made substantial progress," Voelker said. "We will continue working over the next few weeks to finalize our work leading up to the public hearing in December and we hope to hear any concerns that citizens may have between now and then."      
One citizen who wanted to make his opinions on Simsbury's economic development heard was Bill Miller, a member of a grassroots organization called Simsbury Homeowners Advocating Responsible Expansion, or S.H.A.R.E., who said that he and his organization would be opposed to having any large retail development move into Simsbury under the guidelines of the new plan.      
"We are very opposed to having a big box type development move into our community as it would be in accordance with the new plan of conservation and development and this would only be detrimental to our town," Miller said. "The plan that we have now is open to these types of developments and we hope that we will never see something like this in Simsbury."      
"I don't believe that any of us feel that it is a good thing for this town to start down the path of having a big box development and we must come up with more constructive ways to utilize available property we have," Selectman John Hampton said. "We must do everything in our power to maintain the character of the Farmington valley."      
In other development and conservation news the Board of Selectmen explained that they have continued their talks with the Trust for Public Land organization in an attempt to save the 450-acre property owned by the Ethel Walker School on Bushy Hill Road from being developed. Residents from a neighborhood group opposed to the development of the Ethel Walker School property announced that they have recently withdrawn a legal appeal they made in the hopes of stopping any development in light of the ongoing talks between the school, the town and the Trust for Public Land.       
"The citizen's group "Keep the Woods" has announced that it will withdraw its appeal of the wetlands map amendment of the Ethel Walker School land in light of ongoing discussions among the Town of Simsbury, the Trust for Public Land, and the Ethel Walker School. Janet Beatty, of Keep the Woods said in a press release. "All parties involved have indicated that they are interested in preserving the land and Keep the Woods believes that the Town and Ethel Walker School are moving forward in good faith in these efforts. In the spirit of cooperation, and as a good faith gesture of its own, Keep the Woods will relinquish its appeal rights and devote all of its resources to supporting the town, First Selectman Tom Vincent, the Ethel Walker School, and the Trust for Public Land."      
While the neighborhood group believed that supporting the partnership between the town and the Trust for Public Land was the right thing to do, Selectman William Garrity said that he felt passing on the development opportunity that the Ethel Walker property represents would be a mistake for Simsbury.      
"I don't believe that the town should be involved with the TPL on this issue because in order for the town to work through this partnership we will have to give up on other capital projects that have been waiting in line for a long time," Garrity said. "The Ethel Walker property could be a big moneymaker for Simsbury and I don't think that a new housing development would be a detriment to our town services or to the quality of life we have. I feel that it would be a better project for the town if this property gets built out."


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