WATERBURY — Officials are considering a flood management plan that would include specific regulations for the downtown village.
The Planning Commission reviewed maps and options Monday night with the goal of creating new flood hazard area regulations. In addition to defining 100-year and 500-year flood plains, the meeting touched on the creation of regulations for downtown Waterbury.
“I would be in favor of greater restrictions in terms of new development,” said commission member Judith Kamien.
Kamien supported the notion of levying fines on property owners who do not comply with flood management regulations, while advocating for the town to assist property owners with grants so they can come into compliance.
“We shouldn’t just slap a bunch of regulations on people and walk away,” Kamien said.
Commission member Jason Wulff said he was in favor of regulations that would encourage growth downtown.
“I tend to side on less regulation, but that doesn’t always work in this situation,” Wulff said. “Waterbury, as a whole, needs to have a vibrant downtown community, and that is the village. We don’t want to leave downtown so that it is undeveloped. It’s starting to get a real energy to it, and we don’t want to slow that down. If someone wanted to build downtown, I wouldn’t want to discourage that.”
Community Planner Steve Lotspeich said the village is zoned as mixed use, meaning both residential and commercial. In general, Lotspeich said, less-restrictive regulations tend to benefit commercial development more than residential development.
Commission member Mary Koen said the town wants to be sure to encourage residential development in the village as well.
The commission reviewed a matrix of options for components to flood hazard area regulations, which looked at aspects of development — building footprints, floor elevations and different types of development — and gave suggestions for options ranging from the least restrictive to the most restrictive.
For example, the most restrictive option would not allow a new building footprint for residential or commercial development in a flood plain, while the least restrictive option would set a maximum square footage amount on residential construction and would allow additions and new construction for commercial use.
The commission also looked at the flood plain map, which includes prospective depths of floodwater, and briefly discussed the idea of allowing different forms of development in areas depending upon the depth of the water during a flood.
The discussion is leading up to a public hearing on flood regulations sometime in May. Planning for that hearing is expected to happen during the next Planning Commission meeting April 14.
During that meeting, the commission will also interview candidates to replace Planning Administrator Clare Rock, whose last day on the job was Monday. The town has advertised the job opening, and the commission will conduct interviews and make recommendations to the Select Board, which will make the appointment.
Kathryn Grace, owner of three properties that were damaged in flooding during Tropical Storm Irene, briefly discussed Rock’s tenure with the town.
“What I liked about Clare is she knew the policies and she enforced them the same way, no matter who you are,” Grace said.
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