To the Editor:
I would like to respond to Mr. Silber’s decision to vote against the acquisition of the four properties at Church Hill Road and South Edgewood. It is my opinion that his “Nay” vote was wrong and goes against the Master Plan he was elected to preserve and uphold.
Having been chairman of the Town Council, I have voted on multiple land acquisitions. I’ve sat in executive sessions, deliberated the merits of deals just like this and signed various bond authorizations. I, along with many of you, have seen first hand the results when the town is and is not in control of sizable acreage.
I believe the first selectman has stated the purpose, the town has the opportunity to acquire desirable parcels of land and decide its best use rather than have it dictated to us. To say there is no more zoning control is inaccurate. To even acquire the land requires approval from the P&Z Commission, Board of Finance and the Town Council. Once acquired, if the town does decide to put the property to use or for sale, there are similar, multiple, legislative and board/commission votes that must be passed.
To say the town will spend money on a “speculative” acquisition “where neither the need nor the purpose is laid out” is simply short-sighted and wrong. Trumbull has very little land left for development and one of the nefarious ways a developer can hold the town “hostage” is the concept of assemblage. You may even recall this recently along the southern border of Trumbull. A developer acquired and joined two properties and requested to put an overly large, above regulations, building on the assembled piece or threatened to zone bust with cluster housing. It has become all too common. If the town does not acquire these parcels, we may have little or no choice in what is eventually put there.
Do we prefer the threat of a zone-busting, cluster housing development? Maybe the land will be sub-leased to a cell-tower company? In either of those scenarios, that is where the town truly loses zoning control. Which do you think is more damaging to a neighborhood and home values, open-space or cluster housing? Community center or cell tower?
The town did have a “mandate” exactly for these types of common sense decisions. It is why we created the original Land Acquisition Committee. This is the Plan Of Conservation & Development in action. How you could serve on the P&Z Commission and vote against your own plan is bewildering. You cannot infer larger government with this purchase, but it is smarter government.
I agree with the First Selectman. The town should make a good faith effort to purchase this land. I urge the Town Council to vote in favor of authorizing the negotiation to purchase the land before someone else does with the very real possibility of unintended consequences.