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Newtown to Give 'Fast Track' Reviews to Development Projects

Officials hope the new pre-approval procedures will make the town more business-friendly and attract more commercial development.

 

A new set of procedures will allow land developers to obtain fast-track preliminary approvals of their proposals, according to Newtown officials.

The 45-day process was designed by the Economic Development Commission (EDC) and the town’s land development administrators.

EDC members decided Tuesday to refer it back to First Selectman Patricia Llodra to keep her appraised of their process. However, with only four members present, the commission did not have a quorum and was not able to formally approve the procedure.

A document describing the new procedures said their purpose was to make the land-use preliminary approval process more business-friendly as a way to attract more commercial development to Newtown.

Although the procedures were designed for large-scale projects, EDC Chairman Don Sharpe said he believes it could be used for projects of any size.

According to the description, the developer would initiate the process by presenting his proposal to the director of planning and land use or the director of community and economic development.

The developer would then meet with officials from those departments and the first selectman to review the proposal and determine if the fast track procedures were appropriate.

Then the different regulatory authorities would conduct parallel reviews with the aim to have the developer’s applications ready to submit to the land-use boards by the end of the 45-day period.

The new fast track procedures would not eliminate any public hearings.

Land use agencies responsibilities in the 45-day fast track review include town and borough zoning compliance, planning, aquifer protection, forestry practices, open space and inland wetlands.

Once the review is completed, a final pre-application meeting would be held with the first selectman and representatives of the economic development, building, land use and other agencies that might be involved to make sure that all required technical details are complete.

Alex Tytler September 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM
What?
Bruce Walczak TheNewtownRooster.com September 19, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Seems like a great simplification of the process. The one caveat is that it must not in any way diminish the role of various commissions and elected boards. This should not be a program of pre-approval by the First Selectman and then forced approval by the boards.( Or by the Republican Town Committee)The process also needs to be in full view of the voters and compliant with FOI provisions. Fast track should not result in a "surprise" to the voters. We need to maintain appropriate checks and balances. With that caveat this looks like a great simplification of the process and The First Selectman and her staff should be congratulated.

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