Every year, the Connecticut Chapter solicits nominations for notable planning projects in a variety of categories from public service and citizen planners to physical development and plan implementation. Award winners are chosen by a Chapter Awards Committee, read about some of our past award recipients below.
At its annual awards luncheon on December 11, 2015, at the Inn at Middletown in Middletown, Connecticut, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association announced award recipients for outstanding planning efforts in 2015. This year, the Awards were given out in six different standing categories: Community of the Year, Implementation, Innovative Housing, Outstanding Planner and Regional Plan. In addition, a Special Chapter Award was given by the CCAPA Executive Committee.
The CCAPA’s 2015 award recipients are:
Community of the Year: Town of Lebanon
In 2012, the Town Lebanon took control of its destiny by dissolving its Conservation Commission, which was originally formed in 1972, and replacing it with a Conservation and Agriculture Commission. This deliberate and intentional action was based on the desire to protect Lebanon’s natural resources but also in recognition of the role agriculture had played in the Town’s economy and its contribution to the Town’s quality of life—and the desire to continue this mission. Since this time, Lebanon has led Connecticut in agricultural preservation. Lebanon’s land use commissions, town planner, residents, and town leadership have ensured that its’ Plan of Development, land use planning and resulting decisions reflect the importance of an maintaining an agricultural-based economy and the quality of life gained through the protection of the very same resources that sustain it.
As a result of this effort, Lebanon has over 5,000 acres of permanently preserved farmland, representing 12% of all farmland preserved in the State and the number of Lebanon farms has increased dramatically over the past decade, reversing an overall state trend.
Implementation Award: Town of Canton Plan of Conservation and Development Implementation
Canton clearly is a community that sees planning as a tool not a process that ends once the plan is adopted. In updating its POCD, the Town opted to develop a separate Implementation Plan to create an inherent structure to get things accomplished. From the onset, the POCD Committee assigned responsibilities to POCD elements and established metrics to gauge results. The town’s Board of Selectman created a Plan Implementation Committee – a group of town leaders and staff– to monitor progress. They have met monthly with those responsible for specific implementation actions to track progress.
With the Plan adopted in 2014, this year marked the first annual reporting to the Board of Selectman. The results were nothing short of astonishing. Out of the 49 Priority Implementation measures that were slated to be addressed in the first four years, 36 measures showed documented progress and four items have been successfully completed. And, in the heat of election season, both candidates vying for the First Selectman’s seat actually read the document and met with the Town Planner as both were intent on continuing to pursue implementation as part of their respective administrations.
Innovative Housing Award: CHFA Small Multifamily CDFI Loan Pool
Approximately 10% of all housing units in CT are in buildings with between 5 – 19 units. Nearly three-quarters of these buildings are owned by small business individuals, often performing their own administration and maintenance, and often with limited if any access to financing. Recognizing the unmet demand for smaller and more affordable housing developments and the need for financing, the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) capitalized on its strong partnerships with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) which are federally-recognized non-profit lenders, to develop a funding program to assist with acquisition, rehabilitation, construction, and/or permanent financing for up to 20 years; transform vacant and blighted multifamily properties into affordable units; and participate in the revitalization efforts in low- and moderate- income neighborhoods.
CHFA provided the loan pool to the Hartford Community Loan Fund and the Greater New Haven Loan Fund as a source of very low cost funds that can be blended with other CDFI programs and products. Since its launch in April 2014, the Small Multifamily CDFI Loan Pool has already financed 24 small multifamily properties and one mixed-use property, resulting in 97 units of housing. On average, the loan pool has provided 75% of the financing for each property at an average cost to CHFA of $29,900 per housing unit. To date, all properties financed by the loan pool are located in low- or moderate-income census tracts and have required significant amounts of rehabilitation.
Outstanding Planner Award: Margot Burns, Lower Connecticut River Council of Governments
In 2008, Margot Burns initiated an innovative and sustainable planning project for the Lower Connecticut River Valley. The project was to develop a sustainable link between the local, regional conservation community, and the Regional, State, and Federal land use planning process. Margot had the vision and insight through her work on conservation easements to recognize the need for coordinated policy and management support for towns, their conservation commissions, and their land trusts as it pertained to protected lands, future acquisitions of protected lands, and unprotected open space lands.
Her vision and leadership led to the creation of the Lower Connecticut River and Coastal Region Land Trust Exchange. This consortium provides regional education and planning for environmental and landscape protection and promotes regional landscape linkages and data acquisition. It enables collaboration and cooperation towards the creation of trails and greenways, protection of habitat, water quality, and scenic and cultural landscape corridors. All of this has been done with sensitivity towards local land trust and individual property owners’ interest and rights.
A major outcome of her work was the establishment of an 18 mile long regional greenway that functions as a wildlife and multi-use corridor. She has also spent the last two years working for the Exchange in writing, mapping, and drafting the first regional conservation plan: The Lower CT River and Coastal Region Land Trust Exchange Natural Resource Based Strategic Conservation Plan. This plan provides comprehensive mapping and data analysis of natural resources and targeted areas for preservation, and provides a conservation baseline for the COG’s Regional Plan and serves as a model for future conservation plans for towns, regions, and the state for analysis of natural resources, water quality, wildlife corridors, and forestation.
Regional Plan: Route 1 Corridor Plan, Lower Connecticut River COG
Route 1 is a 12-mile stretch of extremely busy roadway used by thousands of residents and commuters, and in the warmer months, by tourists. Although the road connects Saybrook, Westbrook and Clinton, the COG and its team knew that regional transportation could not be the only focus. The plan would need to reflect the multi-functional role the roadway plays in each town—all of which are small and quiet and each with distinctive character and unique desires.
The challenge was to balance transportation needs with community assets and goals. The plan had to consider the historic context, quality of life, and environmental and recreational resources of each town while addressing seasonal traffic and the need for multi-modal transportation. Given the impact of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, climate adaptation and resiliency needed to be addressed. Economic development goals were also considered.
Recognizing the potential for competing interests, a series of mobile visioning workshops, on-line surveys, a two-day design charrette, workshops, and public meetings were organized to fully engage the public and vet issues. With this input, the team successfully developed a plan that strikes a compromising balance among competing interests, and went beyond the singular focus of transportation and traffic issues. The Plan has spurred several champions to take up the recommendations and begin implementation as well as launch new initiatives.
Special Chapter Award: Neil Pade
Neil chairs the Connecticut Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board. He was recognized for his involvement and commitment to improving policy and planning for bike and pedestrian safety across the State.
2014 INNOVATIVE PLAN
Town of Waterford Town Center Vision and Strategic Plan
Waterford had a long-held goal of creating a plan to address Jorden Village and the Civic Triangle. With a Vibrant Communities grant from the CT Trust for Historic Preservation, the town embarked on the task of devising an achievable plan to make these special places walkable and vibrant, protect historic attributes, and establish acceptable development standards for the auto-oriented commercial district immediately to its east.
The plan engaged a wide variety of citizens through a three day charrette and press outreach, fostering awareness by the political leadership for support of future implementation and funding.
The Plan is honored for:
• addressing competing issues of preservation and development,
• recognizing that planning is only the first step in achieving objectives, and
• and for providing excellent models for village district regulations and design guidelines
2014 MEDIA AWARD
Casino Urbanization, Suburban Chinatowns & the Contested American Landscape
Norwich natives Stephen Fan and Shane Keaney received a Media Award for their multi-media examination of the effects of urbanization and immigration spurred by casino development in Southeastern Connecticut.
Fan grew up in Norwich and was one of the few Asian students at his school. After attending Harvard for undergraduate and graduate studies, he became an adjunct assistant professor in art history and architectural studies at Connecticut College. Witnessing the cultural transformation from the early years of casino development in southeastern Connecticut provided him a unique perspective on how land use regulations and physical context can collide when a cultural shift defies societal norms.
Fan partnered with fellow Norwich resident Shane Keaney, now a graphic artist in New York, to create a multi-media exhibit exploring the controversial conversion of single family homes into multifamily communities by immigrant Chinese casino workers. The exhibition, displayed at the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London, invited visitors to reflect on the values, practices and public policies that affect housing in Connecticut. In March, 2014, a daylong workshop further explored Fan’s and Keaney’s findings, with over 100 people attending. Their work is now reflected in a book, edited by Fan.
In addition to recognizing the innovative and provocative use of media, CCAPA also recognizes this project’s profound social and cultural contribution.
2014 EDUCATION & OUTREACH AWARD
Since 2007, the Connecticut Land Use Academy has been training municipal land use commissioners on roles and responsibilities, legal requirements, and how to review a development plan, among other topics. To date, over 1,300 people from 156 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities have taken part in these trainings.
The Academy is recognized for forging a strong partnership between UConn, the Connecticut Bar Association, the state’s regional planning organizations, and the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (CT OPM). And it continues to seek other partners particularly as new issues emerge.
CT OPM funded the Academy for its first three years, but since 2009 the program has been supported solely by grants and limited base support from UConn. Yet, this priceless training is provided free of charge. CCAPA is proud of and deeply appreciative of the Land Use Academy’s efforts and achievements in training local land use commissioners.
CCAPA 2013 Planning Awards
2013 Innovative Plan
This award is given out to a plan or land use regulation that uniquely addresses a contemporary, unique or challenging issue. This year, two plans were awarded in this category.
City of Norwich Plan of Conservation and Development
The innovation the Awards Committee specifically recognized in Norwich’s plan is the use of locational guides rather than a “Future Land Use Plan.”
As a result, Norwich is the first community in Connecticut to integrate the state’s approach into local planning. The plan was also recognized for its emphasis on implementation, with a section to support policy guidance and implementation. Plans are communications tools for policymakers to convey thoughtful approaches to balancing the forces of conservation of resources and development of land. By focusing on the geographic aspects of desirable policies for the City, this plan provides outstanding graphics to communicate the connection between places and policies. According to one of the nominations for the plan, “it is an easy-to-use (and apply) municipal document clearly articulating policy orientation and exposition of the city’s objectives and deliverables…”
Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency Plan of Conservation and Development
The Awards Committee recognized the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency’s (CCRPA) new approach to regional plans and focus on sustainable land use. The Committee was impressed by the strategic thought and consideration that went into CCRPA’s approach prior to embarking on the planning process, rather than relying on a cookbook approach as we often do with our POCDs.
Like municipalities, Connecticut’s regional planning organizations must adopt a regional Plan of Conservation and Development every ten years. The conventional starting point of many of these plans, which primarily exist to guide land use in the region, has been a build-out analysis. While this is an important analytical tool, quantifying how many more buildings and parking lots that can be absorbed before a region reaches its tipping point is fundamentally at odds with the notion of sustainable development.
CCRPA embraced form-based and performance zoning, and used a hybrid approach to develop its plan. Using remote sensing data, land in the region was divided into five categories according to the intensity of development that would be appropriate and that the surrounding infrastructure could support. Recommendations were developed specific to each category to ensure that the costs of future growth could be met.
In addition, “plan area” overlays were superimposed on downtowns, village centers, and crossroads to differentiate them from surrounding lands, thereby re-focusing the region’s communities on the places that make them unique and quintessentially New England. This approach, combining development intensity with plan area overlays, will result in flexibility in land use to preserve community character while promoting sustainable development across the region.
2013 Education & Outreach Award
This award is given for a planning project or initiative that resulted in significant advancement of a community’s comprehension of planning issues or outcomes.
In 2013, CCAPA recognized the Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) for its “Come Home to Downtown” pilot program. The program demonstrates the untapped potential of downtown buildings – our first examples of mixed use development.
Through a successful collaboration between the CMSC and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority a comprehensive approach to revitalizing downtowns was developed to educate owners of small, under-utilized downtown properties and provide technical assistance to the host community. CMSC chose three communities: Middletown, Torrington and Waterbury, as well as three property owners and their buildings to focus the pilot program.
CMSC worked with municipal officials and the building owners to develop viable redevelopment options including:
- Determining what financing would likely be needed for redevelopment;
- Performing an assessment of zoning and regulatory requirements;
- Reviewing the downtown management function; and
- Measuring the downtown’s walkability
Specific recommendations for improving the buildings, including a recommended floor plan designed to attract new residents and bring market rate housing downtown, was also provided to each property owner. Each of the buildings was chosen in part because they are representative of the types of buildings found in downtowns all across Connecticut. Therefore, they serve as models for the redevelopment process in other downtowns.
Through this pilot program, property owners and municipalities were taught how to re-awaken downtowns by reverting what many developers have considered functionally obsolete buildings to the mixed-use assets they once were.
2013 Implementation Award
This award is for a planning project or initiative of unusually high merit for which there are demonstrated results.
For 2013, the Awards Committee recognized Landworks Development, LLC for seizing an opportunity in Simsbury’s new Planned Area Development zoning regulation to develop an innovative mixed use development that is the first project approved and constructed under the new regulations. The development, the Mill at Hop Brook, includes a restaurant, apartments and town homes all within walking distance of Simsbury Town Center which offers a variety of commercial and civic services. The development runs along the popular Farmington Valley Greenway.
An existing gristmill, with its views of Hop Brook, was renovated into a 4-star and highly successful restaurant – Millwright’s. The beautifully rehabilitated brownstone also contains several offices, some of which are connected to the development, while others are completely separate. Mill Commons contains 88 apartments including four completely separate gatehouse style residences and a meeting house. Another section of the development, currently under construction, consists of 20 townhouses which will meet current demand for housing young professionals seeking apartment living and empty-nesters or retirees looking to down-size in a mixed-age development.
The project fully embodies the Town’s new regulations and is a complement to the existing setting. Landworks embraced the opportunity to collaborate closely with the town and create a successful development from both the community and developer’s point of view.
2013 Physical Planning Award
This award is given to a concept, design or plan that improves the human experience of the built environment.
The Town of New Milford received the Chapter’s 2013 Physical Planning Award for its Transportation Management Plan.
This comprehensive transportation plan is a creative yet practical multi-modal plan that treats bicycles and sidewalks as key components of connectivity within the Town’s transportation system. The outlined transportation system improvements balance operations with the preservation of community character, environmental resources and promotion of economic development.
- An online survey to provide initial input of thoughts, ideas and opinions
- Community workshops to discuss concepts
- Inclusion of CTDOT in the planning process
- A “Walkshop” to examine conditions in the field
The final plan illustrates the alternatives discussed and evaluates them against a set of multi-modal performance standards established during the public process. The methodology, public involvement and blueprint for the future serve as an example to communities that want to address traffic congestion in a downtown area to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors as well.
As stated by Tim O’Brien, President of the New Milford River Trail Association, “By acknowledging that busses, bikes and sensible shoes are necessary ingredients in a system of transportation that serves people, not just cars and trucks, this plan is a great step towards improving safety, economic development and quality of life for the Town of New Milford”.
2013 Bruce Hoben Award
This award is given in memory of Bruce Hoben, whose selfless involvement with and longtime leadership in the Chapter along with his many contributions to the practice of planning in Connecticut, truly exemplify the spirit of distinguished service.
The Chapter chose to honor Chris Wood, President of Woods Planning, LLC for his exceptional leadership and expertise as the chapter’s Government Relations Chair and his longstanding commitment to serving our chapter and the planning profession.
For the past eleven years, Chris has served on the Executive Committee of CCAPA, the last eight of which as the Government Relations Chair. In his work on Chapter legislative affairs, Chris spent countless hours commuting to the Capitol and testifying on behalf of Connecticut planners on bills and proposals in front of the Planning and Development Committee. Chris continually provided detailed reporting and up-to-date knowledge to the Executive Committee and Chapter on the often complex issues he was dealing with at the Capitol. In his time as Government Relations Chair, Chris prepared over 500 documents on behalf of CCAPA on issues ranging from bonding to Responsible Growth and from Eminent Domain to Zoning Enforcement. Chris ensured that Connecticut Planners had a voice at the Capitol on issues of concern to them.
Chris has been a mentor to the members of his committee, in particular to our new Government Relations Chair, Jana Roberson, who says that Chris has taught her a great amount in the time she has worked with him, always with a positive nature and sense of humor. Jana says that Chris is the kind of speaker that, when he starts, you take notes. Chris VanDeHoef of the Capitol Group, the Chapter’s lobbyist states, “Working with Chris was an absolute pleasure. The world of the state legislature can be overwhelming and unpredictable and Chris was always prepared and ready for anything. A person that prepared is always a treat to work with…he will be missed.”
Before starting Woods Planning, LLC, Chris was an advisor to the Northwestern Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative, the Director of the Connecticut Department of Public Utilities, the Director of the Connecticut Siting Council, a member of the CT Energy Advisory Board and the Pomperaug Watershed Coalition and served as the Town Planner for the Town of Woodbury.
CCAPA 2012 Planning Awards
Citizen Planning: Mark Summers, President of CNC Software, Tolland, CT
This award recognizes a citizen or a group of citizens who work in a non-compensated capacity to make a significant contribution to planning here in Connecticut. This is one of our perennial favorites and have had worthy nominations for several years now.
This year, the award is presented to someone who by assuming a leadership role made significant contributions in energy conservation and sustainability to Tolland, the Capitol Region and State of CT.
Mark Summers, the President of CNC Software in Tolland, has worked tirelessly as the Chair of the Tolland Energy Task Force, has participated on a climate change committee of experts on energy and environmental issues at the Capitol Region Council of Governments, worked with consultants on the development of Regional Sustainable Land Use plan and even had a starring role in a CRCOG/DEEP Energy Conservation Video.
Mark’s company in its own right has become a showcase for energy conservation and renewable energy. Under his direction CNC encourages its employees to embrace a healthy lifestyle by providing bike racks and walking trails on the property. Employees are even given places to store their running shoes. There is a community garden and a chicken coop onsite. Surplus food from the garden goes to a local soup kitchen.
As chair of the Tolland Energy Task Force, Mark was a valuable resource and technical advisor to staff and commissions as the task force promoted a geothermal retrofit of Tolland Town Hall. This involved the preparation of posters, flyers, and website information, power point presentations to the Town Council and public and participation in interviews, thermal scans and well testing. The $3.5 million town hall geothermal referendum was easily approved by the Town.
Good planning today requires highly technical issues such as sustainable development and energy conservation be incorporated into community and regional plans and made understandable to the public. It is critical for planners to collaborate with professionals to avail ourselves of their knowledge and expertise.
Mark is an inspirational champion of energy conservation and sustainability, he leads by example, is generous with his time, and he continues to contribute to the public benefits of planning in CT.
Public Service: Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online – CLEAR & CTDEEP
With this award, our Chapter recognizes a group or an individual who by acting in a public capacity has promoted or applied sound planning principles or played a significant role in a specific planning project.
Connecticut Environmental Conditions Online, or CT ECO, is a highly advanced internet mapping site that provides access to the state’s natural resource data. CT ECO was developed and is maintained as a partnership between the University of Connecticut Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and the CT DEEP (the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection).
Thanks to this effort, the state’s most comprehensive and authoritative collection of natural resource and related data is now right at our fingertips! This includes natural resource data from CTDEEP, soils information from the Natural Resource Conservation Service along with spectacular high-resolution imagery. CT ECO is regularly used by a variety of agencies, private sector firms, municipalities, academia, nongovernmental organizations and the general public for a multitude of purposes. For Connecticut communities, CT ECO provides geospatial information for use in their open space, economic development, climate change adaptation, watershed and comprehensive plans. CT ECO also played an important role in critical community operations during the response to Hurricane Irene in 2011.
In the past year, over 21,000 individuals visited CT ECO about 38,000 times.
We as planners are indebted to CLEAR and CTDEEP for having the foresight to develop this invaluable tool.
Community Development: Newhall Neighborhood Remediation – Town of Hamden & CT DEEP
This award is given in acknowledgement of a project, program or initiative that bolsters the welfare of a neighborhood or community.
As many of us know, the Newhall Neighborhood down in Hamden has been seriously impacted by the discovery that entire neighborhood had been built over contaminated landfill. How could this happen?
Well, from 1900 to about 1950, public health officials in Hamden believed that by filling in low, marshy areas with refuse, the issue of malaria-carrying mosquitoes could be addressed and the growing challenge of dealing with waste disposal could also be handled. Some of the waste dumped in the neighborhood came from the Winchester Repeating Arms Factory located in nearby New Haven. Several areas were filled in and subsequently became residential neighborhoods.
In 2000, during the planning of an addition to the middle school on Newhall Street contamination was uncovered. Shortly afterwards the Department of Environmental Protection spearheaded an extensive investigation of soil and groundwater conditions that led to a 2007 plan to remediate the neighborhood.
The Town of Hamden and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection were faced with a daunting challenge of cleaning up and restoring an 100 acres and 240 properties. As a result…the Newhall Remediation Project is Connecticut’s largest superfund project in history. To date $30 million has been spent.
Recognizing the social context of this work was the key ingredient to the success of the clean-up efforts. After all…these were people’s homes. Residents were deeply concerned. Communication and on-going dialogue was paramount. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (now called the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) partnered with the Town of Hamden to comprehensively develop effective tools in keep residents informed and also dealing with the myriad of hurdles that continued to surface.
One of the serious concerns residents had was the effect of having Environmental Land Use Restrictions placed on their property deeds as a result of the contamination. Attachment of an ELUR could negatively affect property values. To resolve this issue, Hamden Planning Department worked with DEEP as its new zoning code was enacted in 2010. The new code designated the Newhall Design District with an extra layer of oversight for obtaining building permits involving excavation below four feet (for a pool or an addition, for example). Should a property owner need to dig
below four feet and encounter contaminated fill, proper removal and disposal of waste fill would be paid for with Town-administered money from a $2 million fund established by DEEP. The new zoning regulation, coupled with the fund to pay for safe handling of fill, meant the public would be fully protected without the need for an ELUR.
The Hamden Economic Development Corporation took the lead in working with homeowners to assess and repair structurally damaged homes resulting from accelerated settling from being built over unstable soils. Residents were allowed access to housing programs providing mortgage assistance and low interest loans renovations and. Unemployed workers received job training in deconstruction – a skill that was put to use at homes that were damaged beyond repair and had to be torn down. Building materials were recycled through coordination with the Urbanminers, a locally owned company with expertise in sustainable building deconstruction.
Remediation was completed just a few months ago though a number of homes remain to be demolished. The Newhall neighborhood has survived what some had thought was the end of this older established neighborhood. The physical and the social resilience of this neighborhood is nothing short of remarkable thanks to the efforts of the DEEP and the Town.
The neighborhood has also undergone somewhat of a renaissance. Properties on every block, sometimes entire blocks, have new landscaping, driveways, fences, sheds, sidewalks, decks, patios – all elements that were replaced once contaminated waste fill was removed. This facelift has given the neighborhood renewed hope.
The CTDEEP and the Town of Hamden are this year’s recipients of the Community Development award for their commitment to this neighborhood, for working creatively and collaboratively to bolster the social and economic welfare of the Newhall neighborhood while addressing a serious threat to the public and the environment.
Public Program: I-84 Viaduct Study-Hub of Hartford Committee
Like many similar highway structures of its era, Hartford’s I-84 Viaduct is nearing the end of its useful life. Built in 1965, this ¾ mile long section of elevated highway runs from Sisson Avenue to the edge of downtown Hartford. It is the state’s highest volume roadway with daily traffic volumes of approximately 175,000 vehicles.
While the Viaduct plays a critical transportation role, it also casts significant blight on the urban environment. The former Park River lies buried underneath it. It is a major barrier separating neighborhoods from each other and from the downtown; a wide swath of bleak “no man’s land” through the heart of the city. These factors and others limit Hartford’s economic vitality and detract from the City’s cohesiveness and identity.
So it should not surprise anyone in this room that when the Connecticut DOT proposed back in 2006 to replace the aging structure with a similar one at a cost of approximately $1 billion dollars, the people of Hartford were not happy. In the words of Hartford Courant columnist and supporter of all-things-related- to- planning Tom Condon, “a group of citizens rose up and said, in effect, “Keep this monstrosity in place for another 20 or 40 years? Are you nuts? We’d like our city back. Let’s think of something else.”
A grassroots group came together to demand a wider study of the replacement options – and to consider the social, economic and environmental costs of a “more of the same” solution. This became known as the I-84 Viaduct Study.
The group, coined HUB of Hartford, was appointed by the City of Hartford to be the steering committee for the broader study which they had championed. Chaired by local resident Dr. Robert Painter, the Committee was a broad cross-section of project stakeholders. In addition to representation from the City and ConnDOT, the committee included leaders of the Frog Hollow and Asylum Hill neighborhoods, the West End Civic Association, and participation by Aetna, the Hartford, the Hartford BID and Hartford Preservation Alliance.
The study process involved three phases: an examination of the existing viaduct; a review of the wide range of possible replacement options; and a detailed analysis of the most promising options. Extensive public input from hundreds of residents and businesses was solicited through public workshops, presentations and open houses, as well as coverage on television, through website, blogs and print media.
Through this input a hybrid option was wholeheartedly endorsed that would provide an opportunity to develop over 1 million SF of mixed-use, transit-oriented development in the heart of downtown adjacent to a newly-accessible Bushnell Park. The option reconnects Hartford’s now-bisected neighborhoods at a cost comparable to replacing the existing viaduct.
Thanks to the HUB Committee, the process of identifying a viable option based on more than road specifications became a reality. It is a model that should become DOT’s standard template.
The Chapter wishes to express its gratitude to all of the members of the appropriately-named Hub of Hartford Committee.
Bruce Hoben Distinguished Service Award: Mark Pellegrini, AICP
This year, the Chapter chose to honor Mark Pellegrini Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Town of Manchester, Connecticut for his efforts leading CCAPA, as its President, an Executive Committee member with the Chapter and as a mentor to many Connecticut planners and leaders.
For 28 years, Mark has served as the Director of Planning and Economic Development for the Town of Manchester. During his tenure, the Town and its residents have benefitted immensely from Mark’s knowledge, professionalism and desire to do what is best for Manchester and its citizens. Mark has worked on everything from small subdivisions to super regional shopping centers, and from neighborhood zoning disputes to Downtown Revitalization. He has guided countless boards, commissions, agencies, committees and groups with great dedication and persistence, and lovingly guided and mentored all members of his staff .
Mark’s leadership style, professional acumen and personal ethics have made him both a respected leader in his home town, and a recognized face of the Connecticut planning community. In his many interactions with public agencies and citizens, Mark has exemplified the qualities of a professional planner and the style that Bruce Hoben embodied.
Mark has unquestionably provided thoughtful leadership in trying times and has championed the planning profession and the professional organization.
CCAPA 2011 Planning Awards
STUDENT RECOGNITION AWARD: Nick Iannacito
This year, the Chapter dedicated its citizen planner award for a student who has worked to make a major contribution to planning in Connecticut. Nick Iannacito worked tirelessly and voluntarily for seven months to redesign sign regulations for the town of Torrington. Mr. Iannacito worked collaboratively with several of the town’s boards and commissions and with the business community in order to draft regulations that were fair and effective. In preparation for writing these regulations, he created and conducted a business survey, researched American Planning Association best practices and met with other local stakeholders. Mr. Iannacito then presented the proposed regulations at a public hearing, at which the regulation passed unanimously, and then reached out to the business community once again to ensure owners understood the new regulations. Mr. Iannacito recently graduated from the University of Connecticut and is considering pursuing a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning.
SUSTAINABILITY AWARD: Stop & Shop (Ahold USA)
The Chapter recognized Stop & Shop for its recent construction of a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-eligible store in Torrington. The new building includes: A 400-watt UTC fuel cell which provides 90% of its electricity; high efficiency lighting, refrigeration and other building systems throughout including LED lighting for frozen food cases, dimmable fluorescents for store lighting, reduced HFC refrigerants, and daylight harvesting; and site design that incorporates low impact development elements for storm water management; it is awaiting final confirmation of this coveted goal.
IMPLEMENTAION AWARD- Town of Simsbury Zoning Commission
The Chapter recognized the Simsbury Planning and Zoning Commission for its innovative development of a form-based zoning code. In response to several divisive development proposals, the Commission hosted a 6-day charette in September 2009 in order to form a vision for the town center’s future. Its major objective was to heal the significant rifts and existing divides in the public’s confidence in the land use planning process. The curette was a major success and was attended by over 600 residents. Input was used to create an Illustrative Plan that would evolve into what has now become the Simsbury Center Form Based Code. Through work and discussion with the Town Board of Selectmen and various other town boards, the Commission created significant and creative mechanisms to implement the code, including a low impact storm water module and the creation of a consent agenda, in which projects of under 25,000 sf can be approved without discussion if they meet code requirements. Design Guidelines for the town center are currently being developed and will eventually be incorporated into the FBC review process.
PUBLIC SERVICE: Manchester Redevelopment Agency
The Chapter presented this year’s public service award to the Manchester Redevelopment Agency for its work in creating and implementing the Broad Street Redevelopment Plan. For the past 18 years, the Manchester Parkade, a 250,000 square-foot, ‘60’s era shopping center located on 18 acres in the center of Manchester, sat vacant and became the town of Manchester’s most prominent and controversial blighted property. In 2008, the Board of Directors expanded the town’s redevelopment agency and charged it with developing a plan for redeveloping the Parkade and the Broad Street area.
With assistance from the University of Hartford Design Center and town planning staff, the Agency organized a design charette and developed a vision for a compact, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood. In September 2009, the Agency and the Board of Directors adopted the Broad Street Redevelopment Plan outlining that vision and steps necessary to achieve it. In large part due to the public presentation and outreach by the Agency, the residents approved an $8 million bond to implement the plan later that year.
Since the plan’s adoption, the town has acquired the shopping center property, and is in the process of demolishing the vacant structures. The Agency is in the process of designing a greenway and park expansion, in partnership with town staff, the Planning and Zoning Commission and a consultant team have drafted a form-based code scheduled for hearing in February. Additionally, the Town has received $3 million from the state to reconstruct Broad Street itself. The Chapter recognizes the Agency for its hard work, its dedication and the countless hours devoted to this transformative project.
SPECIAL CHAPTER AWARD: Bruce Becker
The Chapter conferred one Special Chapter Award this year to Bruce Becker for his demonstrated vision and leadership in integrating Planning, Design and Development.
A registered architect, a certified planner and a LEED certified professional, Mr. Becker co-founded two non-profit organizations to create innovative affordable housing project: Common Ground Community, developer of the Times Square Hotel Supportive Housing; and Under One Roof, developer of The Marvin Intergeneration Child Care and Congregate Housing in Norwalk, CT.
Mr. Becker’s most recent success here in CT is 360 State Street in New Haven, the recipient of several awards for smart growth and sustainable development. The state’s first LEED Platinum residential project, this 700,000 SF mixed- use, transit-oriented development includes a fuel cell, extensive building efficiency mechanisms, electric car charging ports and a green roof. Units are designed for green living, resulting in half the carbon footprint and utility costs of a conventional unit.
Another example of Mr. Becker’s focus on community planning is the historic rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of the 1855 Wauregan Hotel in Norwich. He created the development concept and put the financing in place to convert this once gorgeous structure into 70 units of moderate income housing, with 4,000 SF of retail space, ballroom restoration, and 100-space parking garage. In this public-private venture, he met community and economic development needs while revitalizing the gateway to Norwich’s historic downtown.
Being a developer is not easy and comes with inherent risks. But these are but two projects where Mr. Becker took the risk, while keeping true to his values.
BRUCE HOBEN DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD: Dan Tuba
This year, the Chapter chose to honor Dan Tuba for his exceptional dedication to the
Chapter and service to its members. Over his career, Mr. Tuba served as CCAPA president, on the Executive Committee and as state coordinator of the Southern New England planning conference. He has served as a mentor to countless planners and has strengthened the knowledge base of planners throughout southern New England. The longtime Town Planner in Monroe, Mr. Tuba worked to champion the planning profession, CCAPA and its membership. The Chapter thanks Mr. Tuba for his efforts and his career of distinguished service.
CCAPA 2010 Planning Awards
CITIZEN PLANNING AWARD: Ruth Skovron
Ms. Skovron has worked tirelessly over the last four years to bring professional planning support to rural communities in the northwest corner of Connecticut. She has devoted over 2400 hours of her time to raise money, educate citizens and build consensus. Her tenaciousness and vision have been rewarded through the creation of the Northwest Connecticut Regional Planning Collaborative and raising over $400,000 to address issues such as affordable housing and economic revitalization of village centers. The letters of support included in the nomination reflect deeply on not only her remarkable achievements but on her benevolence and her inclusive approach.
PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD: Waterbury Greenway Advisory Committee (Ron Napoli-Chair accepted the award)
In 2008, 17 individuals from diverse sectors of the Waterbury community were tagged to serve on a committee to assist with planning a 7.1 mile paved greenway along the Naugatuck River. Since that time, the Committee held monthly meetings, spearheaded public outreach, supervised the consultant, conducted visioning exercises and helped form a non-profit fundraising arm, the “Friends of Waterbury Greenway”. Members walked and kayaked the study area and conducted guided tours for the public and participated in developing a “Corridor Driving Tour” for the Federal Highway Administrator, Congressman Chris Murphy and other visiting dignitaries. The active interest of all of the members of the Greenway Advisory Committee and their obvious embrace of collaborative planning that truly reflects the needs and desires of its citizens will ensure successful implementation.
COMMUNICATIONS: HousingUs and Kevin Litten
HousingUs (Betsy Crum, Director of Real Estate Development at Women’s Institute for Housing & Economic Development and Chair of HousingUS and Jocelyn Ayer accepted the award)
The Chapter recognized two recipients for communications awards this year. The first represents communications related to raising awareness of the need for affordable housing. HousingUs is a tri–state collaborative effort of nonprofit organizations and community leaders promoting broad–based affordable housing options in towns throughout the northwest corner of CT as well as parts of New York State and Massachusetts. The Women’s Institute for Housing & Economic Development based in Middletown participated as the Northwestern Connecticut contingent. The coalition launched a multi-media campaign including a website, direct mailings, an insert in four local newspapers, radio interviews and two billboards. The media campaign put a human face on the need to provide affordable housing for members of our communities. The newspaper insert which also served as direct mail piece was particularly poignant, featuring residents of Salisbury, Norfolk and Canaan. The insert begins, “They are firefighters and school teachers, farmers and carpenters, plumbers and bank tellers and artists. They are our neighbors and friends, our grandparents and grandchildren. They are US.”
The second communications award recognizes the individual effort of a reporter for his on-going coverage of planning and development issues. It is rare to find coverage much less in-depth educational coverage of local issues but Kevin Litten, a reporter for the Republican American, has devoted countless hours toward educating himself and delving into the issues and details of Planning and Zoning, Wetlands, and ZBA discussions in the City of Torrington. He artfully and accurately articulates these details in informative and educational articles. He has closely followed Torrington’s downtown revitalization efforts and was instrumental in getting the word out and providing coverage of the update of the Plan of Conservation & Development. A few examples of his articles include the application of smart growth principles to the approval of a Lowe’s entitled “It’s a Big Hello to Lowe’s”; “River Revival” about Torrington’s efforts to transform the Naugatuck River which included informative sidebars on the river’s history and efforts to control invasive species; and coverage of the city’s struggles with foreclosures.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: Route 6/Hop River Corridor Plan (Eric Trott, Town Planner for Coventry, accepted the award on behalf of the participating towns)
This year, the Chapter recognized the unique effort of an inter-regional collaboration of four small towns—Andover, Bolton, Coventry and Columbia. Regionalism is a word that makes many towns here in the land of 169 fiefdoms bristle, but the towns participating in this study recognized the power of unified, focused attention on balancing the natural assets and rural context of the Route 6 Corridor with growth and development. Putting aside parochial interests, the towns created a common vision for growth that sharply contrasts with the existing land use patterns of sprawl and inconsistent character. The Hop River corridor Plan puts forth an innovative approach for small rural towns in that it recommends that the Route 6 Economic Development Commission evolve into a Regional Economic Development Agency for the purpose of implementing infrastructure improvements and coordinating development at four nodes. The Plan also recommends the creation of common zoning regulations and design guidelines to be adopted by the respective town commissions. Hopefully, this plan will spur legislative recognition of the wisdom of applying these planning tools across the state.
SUSTAINABILITY AWARD-Danbury Branch Improvement Study (Floyd Lapp, Southwestern CT RPA accepted the award)
All of us are familiar with the level of traffic congestion from New Milford through Danbury and down into the Norwalk area. There have been numerous recommendations coming from endless studies and virtually all of them focused on making roads wider or creating new ones. Now through a federal grant, the region is looking to more sustainable approaches by improving existing commuter rail service and attracting more commuters to transit. As part of the Danbury Branch Improvement Study, an environmental Impact statement and alternative analysis served as a backdrop to expand the public’s understanding of transit-oriented development as a means of guiding growth and mitigating congestion. The study evoked collaboration among a broad range of stakeholders including the public, elected officials, local representatives, the regional planning agency, the Department of Transportation and the federal government. The work products were exceptional –going above the standard report format—to include an informative video to educate stakeholders and a creatively formatted document presenting the alternatives.
PUBLIC PROGRAM AWARD-AGvocate (Jennifer Kaufman, AGvocate Program Coordinator accepted the award)
The name of the program in and of itself AGvocate is a perfect play on advocacy for agriculture. For a state like ours, who has essentially lost its agricultural economy and rural context, this Program has broaden support to towns and businesses by providing land use recommendations, implementing tax exemptions, promotional outreach and education and incorporating agriculture into local economic development strategies. Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Eastford, Franklin, Hampton, Sterling, Thompson, Windham and Woodstock participated in the Program, which has been funded through a Farm Viability Grant from the CT Department of Agriculture. Municipal leaders, agricultural producers and supportive citizens have come together to implement tools and create actions plans to support agricultural viability. AGvocate has created a voice for agriculture.
SPECIAL CHAPTER AWARD: Marcia Banach, AICP
Marcia Banach, AICP recently retired as South Windsor’s Town Planner. She has been a hard working, knowledgeable, dedicated and creative planning professional, providing valuable guidance and leadership to the Town in all facets of community development and preservation. Marcia has been a very active member of CCAPA and also served the Capitol Region Council of Governments in various capacities. In making the award presentation, Fran Armentano noted that Marcia’s stellar reputation “has helped demonstrate to the public the unique talents and great value that planners bring to Connecticut’s cities and towns.” He also noted the primary role she has played in the Chapter’s social planning network and credits Marcia in bringing about the camaraderie that our membership enjoys. He suggested that the annual awards luncheon become an event where retired planners can annually re-connect with their colleagues.
Michelle Lipe, who has served under Marcia for her entire career at South Windsor, also participated in the presentation. She pointed out that Marcia’s 25-year career marks a time of tremendous growth in town and she handled issues and challenges with professionalism and a high degree of ethics. Michelle is grateful to have benefitted from Marcia’s depth of knowledge and nurturing management style and Marcia should be proud of her accomplishments as both a planner and a leader in her community.
The entire Chapter extends best wishes to Marcia as she pursues her next career—retirement!
BRUCE HOBEN DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD: John Pagini, AICP
The Bruce Hoben Distinguished Service Award was created by the Connecticut Chapter of the American Planning Association to recognize distinguished service to the Chapter and the planning profession. Bruce served the Chapter in many roles and was a friend and mentor of many Connecticut planners. The Bruce Hoben award was established in 2009.
This year’s recipient, John Pagini, AICP, has exhibited a tremendous amount of energy and acumen in serving as the Chapter’s Professional Development Officer (PDO). As PDO, John challenged planners to excel through on-going education efforts and programs and worked with national leaders to recommend adjustments to the AICP Certification Maintenance program. He has also established a high standard for what the role of the PDO can be.
John’s leadership, and countless hours of volunteer effort truly rise to the level of this Award and the Chapter is proud to name him as the second recipient.
John is currently a land use consultant. He has been an active planner since 1974 and has worked for numerous communities in Connecticut, and also worked for Robinson and Cole as a Land Use Analyst. John later worked in Nantucket, Massachusetts, for ten years. John is also the Conservation Coordinator for the Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust.