SOUTHBURY — The Board of Selectmen, meeting Wednesday, April 7, approved a resolution regarding home rule in municipal zoning decision-making by a vote of four to two.
Selectman Mike Rosen noted that other towns have passed similar resolutions, summarizing the choice between a set of regulations developed at the state level and applied uniformly to all 169 towns versus individual towns setting their own zoning guidelines.
According to Mr. Rosen, the resolution presented to the selectmen would, “Throw the baby out with the bath water,” and that the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities has supported some parts of the proposed legislation. “There are many bills under consideration related to affordable housing.”
He argued that the General Assembly has a right to limit home rule.
Mr. Rosen described the choice between state and local as a false dichotomy. While he said there was a problem with lack of affordable housing, he thought the issue was more nuanced than reflected in the resolution.
Selectman Justin Bette said he would support a resolution, but not the one before the board. “These copy-and-paste type communications that we’re getting from other political town committees… I just don’t see why Southbury can’t write its own statement that’s particular to our town.”
He noted that the resolution says Southbury has an affordable housing plan, “Which is not true.”
Mr. Bette said he would like to draft an original letter to detail Southbury’s existing situation and highlight those parts of the proposed legislation that the town finds egregious, reminding that a shovel-ready project at Pierce Hollow does not need more mandates, but funding.
Selectman Emily Harrison commented in favor of the resolution and Selectman George Bertram said that, while not perfect, the resolution would send a message that needed to be sent as the local community would be damaged by the proposed state legislation. “We need to draw a deep line in the sand.”
Mr. Bertram pointed out that there are multiple bills in committee and they are changing. Should these bills pass, the state might pass others to take further authority from towns.
Selectman Jason Buchsbaum said he was opposed to the state legislation and interference with Southbury’s zoning regulations and that cookie-cutter resolutions have limited utility. “I don’t object to anything in here.”
During the meeting, the selectmen also approved the purchase of two fire trucks, thanking the firefighters, who had attended the meeting, for their service.