Recently, the Canton Zoning Commission started reviewing a draft of its proposed regulations update.
After years of drafts, issues with consultants, changes in town planners, and controversial decisions to not reappoint some long-time commissioners, the draft was released to the commission and public.
The commission has decided to hold monthly workshops to begin reviewing the document and accept public input long before a public hearing is held.
At the February meeting chairman David Bondanza said no decisions would be made immediately but said the commission was happy to hear input on the first few chapters and well as general comments.
Among those in attendance were several selectmen, a land-use attorney, a handful of business owners and Canton Chamber of Commerce officers. Many commissioners also shared thoughts.
While the current regulations require many uses by "special exception," the new document proposes more activity that would be allowed "as of right" or with staff approval. The changes would allow more businesses to move in without a costly and lengthy zoning process.
First Selectman Richard Barlow, however, felt the proposal doesn't go far enough in easing that burden and was one who offered some general thoughts of the draft.
"There is still too much that can only be accomplished by special exception," Barlow said.
He also felt the proposal contains too many items that would be hard to enforce and placed unnecessary burdens on homeowners, such as the need for a "special exception" for sheds larger than 144 square feet or a required four acres to own a rooster. Barlow said the latter was ripe for problems, such as who would be grandfathered and how that would work.
"If the rooster dies can you replace it?" he asked.
After the meeting, Barlow said he was pleased that the commission seemed receptive to addressing his issues.
Attorney David J. Markowitz expressed several concerns such as a definition of "minimum" requirements. The word could make it vague as to whether the commission could arbitrarily require more than the set minimum, he said.
"One of the things land-use attorneys like to see is certainty," he said.
While Town Planner Neil Pade said the document does not include some larger zoning initiatives, such as a Collinsville Village concept, the town may want to consider in the future, Selectman and Collinsville businessmen Steve Roberto asked commissions not to overly delay a rewrite process that's been plagued by numerous problems and personnel changes since it began in 2005.
"I would just urge the commission to appropriately address everyone's concerns and issues but try not to rewrite this document and keep things moving along," Roberto said.
The Zoning workshops will continue, each month, generally the first Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Community Center.
Residents can read the draft in the attached pdf.