MERIDEN — The Planning Commission unanimously voted this week to adopt a new Plan of Conservation and Development, setting in stone the city’s development and conservation goals for the next decade.
The overarching goals that the state-mandated, 10-year development blueprint sets include: improving the city’s image, attracting quality businesses and market-rate housing downtown, maintaining existing parks and open space, maintaining safe and attractive neighborhoods, maximizing community resources and providing new resources to improve quality of life.
“We accomplished what we set out to do,” commission member Lenny Rich said. The 5-0 vote Wednesday night concludes a year-long process.
Commission members opted not to specifically address housing developments proposed for the Meriden Green, which could become the most hotly contested development issue over the plan’s 10-year life span.
City Planner Renata Bertotti said the POCD is “silent” on the proposed Green apartments, which she told commissioners was “probably best.”
“As a master plan for the community, you should not be focusing on a specific property,” Bertotti said.
In response to opposition voiced by several residents at a public hearing on Jan. 22, commission members said they didn’t feel it was within their purview to address the proposed apartment buildings.
“The only thing I learned from that public meeting was there were a lot of public speakers who came to the wrong meeting with their complaints,” Rich said. “What they were complaining about we have no control over. There are some additional housing plans for the Green, there was a designated contract, but that’s not in purview right now. What we were set out to do is put a 10-year plan forth.”
The apartment buildings, which would include commercial space on the first floor, are currently slated for the corner of State and Mill streets behind the amphitheater and on Pratt Street across from the firehouse.
The buildings were included in original plans for the Meriden Green approved many years ago. After hearing concerns from the public, Pennrose, the developer under contract to build the apartments, recently scaled down the number of units in each building to 60, 80 percent of which will be market rate and the remaining 20 percent will be affordable.
The City Council voted in November to extend its development agreement with Pennrose another six months, giving it more time to submit final designs and financial estimates before the City Council ultimately votes to approve the project.
Commission chairman Enrico Buccilli said he thinks the City Council heard the public’s comments at the Jan. 22 hearing “loud and clear.”
“I don’t think it’s necessary that we include something specific in the plan regarding that,” he said. “I think the council got the message loud and clear.”