|Middletown's Plan of Development
LEGAL BASIS AND PURPOSE OF THE PLAN
Connecticut municipalities are authorized to prepare and adopt comprehensive plans of development by Section 8-23 of the Connecticut General Statutes. This section is hereby incorporated in its entirety. State law defines the plan as “a statement of policies, goals, and standards for the physical and economic development of the municipalities…..In preparing the Plan, the Commission may consider physical, social, economic and governmental conditions and trends….The Plan shall be designed to promote with greatest efficiency and economy the coordinated development of the municipality and the general welfare and prosperity of its people”. Besides being mandated by State law, comprehensive planning and the plan of development are critical for sound decision making in Middletown. The state statutes discuss two significant court rulings in terms of the Plan of Development. These rulings confirm that the Plan of Development is controlling as to municipal improvements but merely advisory as to zoning and that recommendations in the Plan of Development designating appropriate uses for various areas in town is merely advisory and does not bind the Zoning Commission. The Plan provides an opportunity for the City to delineate guidelines for the best possible environment in Middletown. Preparing the Plan helps the City to clarify its thinking on local issues: on growth, on community facilities and programs, on economic development, on preservation and conservation, on transportation, and on housing and redevelopment. Middletown’s earliest Plan, adopted by the Planning Agency in the 1930’s has been updated from time to time most notably in 1965 and 1976. The 2000 Plan is intended to see the City through the remainder of the 20th century. It is an extension of the past but is dedicated to a future Middletown.
THE NEED FOR CONSISTENCY
It is well understood that many of the problems which municipalities experience today transcend municipal boundaries and are of regional and often state wide concern. Traffic congestion, surface and ground water quality, air pollution and solid waste disposal are concerns which often must be addressed at the regional if not the state level. For this reason, consistency with state and regional plans is an essential characteristic of a local Plan of Development. The State of Connecticut contains fifteen (15) planning regions. These fifteen planning regions encompass the states 169 municipalities. Ideally, each of the 169 local Plans of Development will be consistent with their respective regional plan and similarly all regional plans will be consistent with the Plan for Conservation and Development. Other states such as Vermont, Rhode Island and Maine, have passed laws establishing a formal process for reviewing plans at each level for consistency with legislatively adopted goals and policies. While Connecticut has not reached this level of sophistication in state and regional planning, the availability of excellent state and regional plans provides for an informal means to achieve such growth and land use management coordination. Therefore a concerted effort has been made to insure that the Year 2000 Plan of Development for the City of Middletown is consistent with the Midstate Regional Plan and the State Plan for Conservation and Development. In this way the three levels of government will be working in concert both to provide an opportunity for growth and development where appropriate and also to preserve and protect environmentally significant land and water resources.
GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION OF MIDDLETOWN
Middletown is almost at the geographic center of Connecticut. It is approximately equal distance, 20 miles, from two key Connecticut cities, Hartford and New Haven. The City is also approximately equal distance, 100 miles, from New York City and Boston. Middletown is part of the eastern megalopolis reaching from Norfolk, Virginia at the southern end to Boston, Massachusetts at the northern end. This geographic position has an undeniable influence on the future of Middletown. Within its own State designated planning region, Middletown is a mature urban center for the rural communities to the south and east. To the north and west Middletown is in the development shadow of Hartford and Meriden. While Middletown is part of the urban and urbanizing eastern megalopolis and connected to the interstate highway system at the western boundary, it still has a significant portion of its ground surface undeveloped. It is precisely for this reason that a Plan of Development is essential. This plan will set general policies in order to guide the growth of the city. Middletown is in an advantageous position in terms of its options for its future course of development. Middletown can develop its own special combination of resources to be different from other communities in the state. It does not have to be dominated by industrialization nor must it exclusively play the role of a suburb. It can generate a unique complex of activities relating to the environment. This opportunity is provided by its location of the Connecticut River, its rolling landscape, and the qualities of a mid-sized New England city. Middletown does not need to be unduly influenced by an irresistible set of forces which it cannot control. Middletown’s location within the state, its accessibility to major highways and its large quantity of undeveloped land presents the city with a major advantage. Whether or not the community will respond to the advantage is part of what the Plan of Development is all about.
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