3:30 p.m. update: The City Council Monday night overwhelmingly passed the Master Plan that was debated in comments over the weekend. Big crowd on hand including some crackling audience exchanges between State Rep. Chris Caruso and former City Council member Keith Cougar Rodgerson.
Those two tend to make prehistoric noises within earshot, especially after Cougie dissed Caruso’s overture to give up his third-party mayoral line in the 2007 general election. Cougie got a consulting gig from Bill Finch as a result. Hey, Chris, careful if you’re at the Farmer’s Market downtown. Cougie spends a lot of his time there and he’s a pretty good tomato thrower.
We have a few related items below starting with a news release from Mayor Finch regarding a letter he sent to P&Z commissioners before the council vote.
Mayor Bill Finch today sent the following letter to the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission urging the board to consider limited amendments to the Master Plan of Conservation and Development. The letter reads as follows:
August 3, 2009
Planning & Zoning Commission
Re: #135-08 Economic and Community Development and Environment Committee report re “Bridgeport 2020″: A Vision for the Future Master Plan of Conservation and Development” Statutory Review pursuant to CGS Sec. 23-8(f)(2)
Dear Honorable Commissioners:
As Mayor, I am respectfully proposing a limited amendment to the Master Plan of Conservation and Development (“Master Plan”) that was submitted on or about June 15, 2009 by your Commission to the City Council for its review and comment. I am proposing this amendment in order to ensure adoption of a Master Plan that reflects the City’s urban character and supports my Administration’s vision of a city that balances vibrant growth with quality of life.
Recommended Amendment to Proposed Master Plan and Future Land Use Map:
Main Street from Stoehrs Place to Fairview Avenue
Recommendation – amend the proposed Master Plan and Future Land Use Map to designate this property (except for those parcels currently listed as having a “commercial” land use) as “low density residential” land use.
Furthermore, as a related matter, I am also submitting recommendations concerning certain aspects of the Zoning Regulations/Map pending before the Commission. I make these recommendations because I believe these particular issues have become a distraction from the larger reforms at stake in the adoption of this progressive master plan and our new zoning regulations. The three specific areas of the City are as follows: (1) Parcel Located off of Serpentine Drive behind Commerce Park office park, (2) Testo’s Restaurant Site on Madison Avenue, and (3) Greenwood Street – 9.9 Acre Parcel. The proposals from the Commission’s Zoning Re-write Sub-committee would change these three property sites from “low density residential” land use. I believe that the full Commission should reject these elements of the report from the Re-Write Sub-committee.
Moreover, I hereby resubmit my earlier written request that the Commission conduct a second Public Hearing (to be conducted in September 2009) on the Zoning Map changes, and suggest that these matters would be appropriate subjects for such public hearing.
A statement below from Michael Voytek on behalf of the Committee to Ungag the People:
Democracy worked last night in Bridgeport! The City Council heard the people and overwhelmingly approved the Master Plan and recommended changes to the Plan and on the Zoning Map to protect our neighborhoods from overdevelopment by special interests. The Council’s recommendations support the integrity of our neighborhoods and the tax-paying citizens who live there. The changes favor the preservation of the neighborhood character of two areas on Main St. in the Master Plan and the single-family residential character of a large parcel of property near Greenwood St., Anton St. and Madison Ave. (Testo’s) on the Zoning Map and regulations. Protecting our neighborhoods and listening to the taxpayers in those neighborhoods must always be an integral part of any Master Plan for the city. The Master Plan and comments now go to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration.
The goal of the Master Plan in its simplest form is to promote economic development in Bridgeport AND preserve and protect our neighborhoods. Many on the City Council appear to have struck the sometimes delicate balance of simultaneously endeavoring to reach these goals by BOTH approving the Master Plan and approving recommendations that essentially oppose spot zoning “favors” to special interests and a select group of developers.
The goals of the Committee to Ungag the People, which is made up of Bridgeport taxpayers and homeowners, are in line with the goals set forth in the Master Plan and likewise achieve this balance. The Committee to Ungag the People stands for: (1) preserving our neighborhoods; (2) preventing spot zoning “favors”; and (3) promoting “real” economic development in Bridgeport (i.e., maintaining and growing the city’s tax base in a viable manner).
Through the tireless efforts of the Committee to Ungag the People, we sparked a much-needed debate among Bridgeport residents on the Master Plan and spot zoning matters. We have debated, and will continue to debate, exactly who the Master Plan and zoning matters will ultimately serve. We should all rejoice and encourage such debate in Bridgeport that will ultimately benefit our City as a whole and its neighborhoods and the citizens who live in them.
The Master Plan and Recommendations are now before the PZC. The Committee to Ungag the People will now focus on that body like a laser beam. Democracy having worked for one evening in our beautiful city does not mean that democracy is working on a consistent basis yet. We will be working to achieve our goals and watching whether the PZC will do the right thing by the people and the neighborhoods. There will be a hearing on the Master Plan on August 24th at 6pm at City Hall. If you believe what the Committee to Ungag the People believes, you are invited to stand in solidarity with us at that hearing. In addition, we have been told there will be a hearing at another time to address some of the spot zoning matters that we will also invite you to attend. We will keep you posted. Ungagging the People means giving them a voice. We intend to continue to use that voice at these hearings. We continue to note that we have “many miles to go before we sleep.” And we will only sleep after we have achieved our goals.
Some thoughts below from North End council member AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia.
Why I voted yes for the master plan and no to the amendment.
We spent a lot of money on this plan, many people volunteered their time–countless hours, and we need to move this city–my city–our city FORWARD.
There is too much at stake if we hesitate and keep fighting. There will be plenty of opportunities for us to “discuss” this with P&Z and the City.
We need to expand our tax base as to take the burden off of us. We need to explore opportunities, to look at other avenues that will include additional revenues for our overtaxed and overworked taxpayers. Status quo will not take care of us.
The reason I voted no to the amendment was that there were select properties in question when there are many other properties that need to be researched and checked thoroughly.
If we are going to make examples for a couple–then shame on us–we need to look at that whole picture. I could not vote with my heart on that until I know that everyone is covered.
I will be at P&Z to talk up with yea or nay on zoning matters that concern my district–the 134th and the whole city. I will continue to work for the better of my constituent concerns as long as all t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. I go with the facts and not the screams.
Can you believe it? A September primary for City Council seats just around the corner.
What are you hearing? Candidates are out there collecting signatures to get their names on the ballot. Over the next month we’ll focus on several of them as we hear about opposition candidates that qualify for the ballot.
Sounds like Andy Fardy and running mate Ann Barney are already approved. I’m paying lots of attention to this race because it’s a strong barometer for how things are going in the city. Fardy AKA Town Committee and Barney, a 25-year employee of the Board of Education, are challenging incumbents in the 138th Council District Bob Curwen and Rich Paoletto. Curwen, co-chair of the Budgets and Appropriations Committee, has his ups and downs with the Finch administration. Paoletto, who’s on the city payroll, is a Finch supporter.
I expect this race on the Upper East Side to be close. Fardy and Barney are anti-Finch administration candidates who are knocking on doors and banging phones forcing the incumbents to work hard. A new wrinkle has been added to the race with the potential for James Morton and Tyreke Bird to qualify for the ballot. They could take minority votes from the incumbents or perhaps make a competitive run themselves.
Primaries on this level can be unpredictable animals. You don’t need big money to win. Just a lot of hard work to meet the peeps and drag them to the polls. Two polling places are in play here: Hooker School, home to a significant percentage of owner-occupied dwellings, and JFK school campus, home to lots of seniors and Success Village residents, always a key target area in city elections.
Maybe Andy Fardy can give us an update on what the peeps are saying.
I Want To Own You
MariAn Gail Brown, one of my favorite scribes at the Connecticut Post, has an engaging piece about the way big business and their lobbyists influence Congress, specifically an effort to reach freshman U.S. Representative Jim Himes. Translation: we think this guy is on our side so let’s spend a boatload of dough sucking up on his behalf (and ours) to his constituents. Read a portion of the piece below followed by a link to the entire story.
The snappy, eye-catching brochures landing in mailboxes in Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District that trumpet U.S. Rep. Jim Himes’ health-care stance look like the postal equivalent of candidates’ lawn signs sprouting up before an election.
“A strong Connecticut starts with good health care” reads one. “When health care is unaffordable, families suffer,” another notes. “Jim Himes is working to fix the system.” As proof, the brochure features a sick barefoot little girl in a johnny coat lying in a hospital bed, alone with her eyes half closed and her teddy bear just out of reach.
Another mailing states that “more Connecticut families are getting the care they need, thanks to Jim Himes.”
Similar statements about the freshman congressman who bested longtime Republican incumbent Christopher Shays are being echoed in newspaper ads and cable television spots, too.
Fifteen months before the 2010 election, it appears the campaign season already is under way. But the rub is Himes has not crafted any health-care bills, staked out any bold new policy initiatives or outlined anything substantive that suggests specific health-care reforms he backs. Himes belongs to the House committees on financial services and homeland security. He holds no position on any congressional health-care committees.
So where does the former banking executive get off linking himself to the health-care debate? The answer is simple: he isn’t.
Himes has nothing to do with these health-care missives to his constituents.
St. Vincent’s SWIM Across the Sound 7th Annual Sunset Sail
Saturday, September 12, 2009
3:30 pm-7:00 pm
Aboard the Bridgeport/Port Jefferson Ferry
(Leaving from Bridgeport Ferry Dock)
Great food, entertainment and live music on a leisurely sail around Long Island Sound. All proceeds will benefit the SWIM’s Breast Cancer Programs.
Register online at www.swimacrossthesound.org or
Mail to: St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation, 2800 Main Street, Bridgeport, CT 06606.
Fax form to: (203) 576-5880
(Ticket contribution is tax-deductible, excluding $30)
Tickets: $50 (includes beer, wine and soda) • Adults 21 and over
Advance registration required. RSVP by September 7, 2009
Have questions? Contact Kathyaceyoung@yahoo.com
The Farmer’s Market on the Baldwin Green is open rain or shine every Tuesday from 12 to 6. Please make an effort to attend and spread the word to employees as well as customers. There are over 50 different varieties of fruits and vegetables, many all natural and pesticide free. Honey, homemade jam, fresh flowers, eggs, and herbs are also sold. Come and enjoy Connecticut grown products and support local farmers.