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For too long, development in Connecticut has been scarred by misunderstanding, contentious public hearings and expensive lawsuits. In most cases, there’s no clear Right or Wrong side to these debates – everyone has legitimate concerns that need to be addressed. Beyond the resulting hurt feelings between neighbors or distrust of government or developers, these conflicts often keep much-needed development from occurring.
The Partnership for Strong Communities embarked on a search to discover how communities can balance multiple priorities and opinions, and get development that most residents can be satisfied with. Partnership staff drove around the state and filmed interviews with about 30 individuals involved in this work. Resulting from this inquiry are a 12-minute video, along with supporting materials, highlighting five different communities with different goals, using different methods to achieve a single outcome: Understanding and consensus.
Using intensive design workshops called charrettes, multi-session public hearings, comprehensive community engagement, interactive websites and creative public events, Colchester, Bristol, Hamden, Old Saybrook and Simsbury have shaped their town centers, laid the foundation for new housing and commercial development and agreed upon a path for their towns to take – simply by sharing ideas, answering vital questions, clarifying misunderstandings and agreeing on a reasonable vision of town growth.
It helps with everyone understanding what’s going on. They’ll say, maybe I disagree with it but I understand the reason behind it.
- Gregg Schuster, First Selectman, Colchester
There’s no question that we have saved time, we will save money, we will save court costs.
-Mary Glassman, First Selectman, Simsbury
“Idea Factories” offers first-hand ideas and advice from Mayors, First Selectmen, planners, developers, and a host of community leaders and town residents on what works and what doesn’t when towns decide on development priorities.
Over the next few months, Partnership staff will show the video to a wide range of audiences around the state, and get it shown on several cable access television stations. Please show this video widely, and keep us posted in your efforts to share this material with others.
For more information, please contact:
Shelby Mertes, Chief Policy Analyst