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Cynthia Reeder ‘A cry against inappropriate development’

August 2, 2018

A front-page article in the Stamford Advocate (July 30, “Zoning fight turns political”) seems to inaccurately characterize the zoning appeal before the Board of Representatives as a battle that pits individual property owners against developers. Nothing could be further from the truth. The appeal is not a backlash against developers or development. It’s a cry against inappropriate development. There is a big difference.

At issue is whether a recent text change approved by the Zoning Board allowing a more intense use of office parks is consistent with the Master Plan. The BOR must determine whether the change conforms to the Master Plan. And, in doing so, it must apply the standard of review for such changes outlined in the city charter.

As rarely happens, residents who have the right to challenge the Zoning Board’s decision brought forth an appeal. They asked the BOR to take a closer look at the criteria and to uphold quality-of-life standards that the zoning regulations and Master Plan are intended to preserve and protect.

The city depends on development to thrive. What’s more, as a community, we should embrace developers who are good corporate citizen and who want to do what is best for our neighborhoods. Unfortunately, not all development proposals are good for the neighborhoods where they are proposed. The zoning text change in question is a case in point. It permits an inappropriate use in Designed Commercial Districts that will generate negative consequences for nearby property owners and surrounding neighborhoods. The proposed change in regulations would permit a use in office parks in residential neighborhoods that is inconsistent with the Master Plan. The Planning Board, recognizing the inappropriate use, unanimously voted to deny the proposed change.

I encourage the Board of Representatives to support the Planning Board and to reject the Zoning Board’s decision. The change unjustly penalizes individual property owners, who rely on our appointed boards and commissions to look after the their needs and concerns, first and foremost.

Our fellow residents need to be protected from inappropriate zoning changes that chip away at the many attributes of the city’s single-family neighborhoods that make them such attractive places to live.

Cynthia Reeder is a Stamford resident and former member of the Board of Representatives.

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