Village centers and lot sizes top bylaws conversation
By Christian Avard
Staff Writer | May 03,2013
CHESTER — The Select Board will have a lot to ponder before they vote on new bylaws.
At Wednesday’s meeting, a selectman said Chester should have two village center designations, while a Chester resident said it’s impossible to subdivide lots into less than 2 acre parcels.
Jason Rasmussen of the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission presented a map of new zoning districts under consideration at the Select Board meeting. They included a village center designation comprising businesses on the green and a new stone village district comprising historic homes lined with stone sidings.
By obtaining a state village center designation, commercial buildings within a given area can qualify for tax credits. But Selectman William Lindsay said the Depot Street area is different than the green and has a distinct character.
According to Lindsay, there should be two village center designations, one for the green and the other for Depot Street. He said that would represent a more accurate reflection of the town.
“We have the town hall, a hardware store and a market, I don’t have a problem with a village center being where the green is, but I suggest we have a map of village center one and two,” Lindsay said.
His opinion was backed by Barre Pinske who lives in the Depot Street corridor.
Other concerns were raised over the proposed expansion of the R-80 lot. The town is considering a minimum lot size of 80,000 square feet to three acres or 130,680 square feet. A local resident advised against it, saying it would represent a 62 percent increase in size and would make it difficult to subdivide, sell and retain smaller lots to live on.
Paul Dexter wrote a letter to the Select Board suggesting the town consider a minimum of 2 acres or 87,120 square feet, which would represent a more modest 9 percent increase. But Gary Rapanotti disagreed, saying that subdividing lots under two acres would be difficult to accomplish in 2013.
“A lot of those 1.79 acre lots came in 1982. That was 30 years ago and a lot has changed in 30 years,” Rapanotti said.
According to Rapanotti, Springfield subdivides their lots into 5- and 25-acre parcels and Weathersfield subdivides lots into 5- and 10-acre parcels. Rapanotti, a local land surveyor, said it would be impossible to subdivide a 10-acre parcel into five separate lots because of on-site septic systems and wells.
The state implemented new waste water regulations in 2007 and they play a role in governing what landowners can and cannot do on their land, according to Rapanotti. Select Board Vice-Chairman Derek Suursoo was surprised by the information.
“For a lot of people, their land is their retirement plans. People who buy land have a certain expectation and we’re taking it away from them. That’s potentially problematic,” Suursoo said.
The Select Board will take Linsday’s suggestion and Rapanotti’s observations into consideration when they discuss the implementation of the bylaws, however, a date to do so has not been determined yet.