PLAN OF CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT
“ WHAT, WHY & HOW “
WHAT IS A PLAN OF CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT (POCD) ?
A Plan of Conservation and Development is a tool for guiding the future of a community. The goals and recommendations of a Plan reflect the overall consensus of what policies are appropriate for a community and what changes are desired for the future.
A Plan of Conservation & Development is first and foremost a series of recommendations for the physical layout of a community. The quality of life for residents can be shaped by the choices a community makes relative to its physical layout. A good plan maps the optimum areas to be the economic engines of a community. It also balances the need for economic development with maintaining desirable residential neighborhoods and open space areas.
A Plan of Conservation & Development’s policies and recommendations will also inform the financial decisions a community makes. More specifically, the policies and recommendations contained in the POCD will guide the implementation of the Capital Plan and decisions related to bonding or other forms of financing capital projects.
A Plan of Conservation & Development’s policies and recommendations will, of necessity, inform all other planning documents in the community. For example, a communities zoning regulations and map (Comprehensive Plan) must not contain any elements contrary to the POCD. All other plans, whether they are community-wide ( Downtown Plan) or specific to a neighborhood (Hodges Square), must also communicate with the policies and recommendations of the POCD.
The two examples above are commonly referred to in the planning world as “consistency”. Most often this principle is dealt with within the context of CGS 8-24 reviews for infrastructure projects, zone changes or text amendments. If a proposal is determined to be “not consistent with the POCD” , it should not be supported….in theory.
WHY DO COMMUNITIES NEED A PLAN OF CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT (POCD) ?
There are two issues to address relative to this question. The legal and the practical.
Legal; Section 8-23 of the Connecticut General Statutes requires that the Planning Commission prepare, adopt, and amend a Plan of Conservation & Development.
In part, the statute states that the POCD “shall” be a statement of policies, goals and standards for the physical and economic development of a municipalities goals…and show the commission’s recommendation for the most desirable use of land within the municipality for recreational, commercial, industrial and other purposes.”
Further, the Plan may contain recommendations for infrastructure systems such as roads, bridges, parks, public buildings, public housing and utilities, relative to location, relocation and improvements.
The statutes require that the plan be updated every ten (10) years. The Plan looks ten to twenty years into the future and is intended to guide public and private actions for the next ten years.
There are potentially a variety of legal consequences for not having current POCD, as required by the Connecticut General Statutes. Perhaps the most significant is, that if a community receives or desires to access additional State grant funds, the State can deny or suspend financial assistance. Obviously, this is critical to our community.
Another potential pitfall, is that the lack of a legally valid POCD exposes the community to legal action relative to land use, or bonding decisions that require a consistency statement. If the POCD policies are outdated, or do not align with the action/decision, the community is placed in an adverse position in the event of a lawsuit.
Practical; Communities that implement land use and financial decisions based on the policies and recommendations contained in a properly prepared and adopted Plan of Conservation & Development, will find that their decisions are better informed, effective, sustainable, defensible and create value within the community.
HOW DOES A COMMUNITY PREPARE A PLAN OF CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT (POCD) ?
The Planning & Zoning Commission should establish an open process that engages the general public, elected and appointed government officials and administrators in a cooperative, meaningful discussion about the future of the City.
The Planning & Zoning Commission may consider/recommend, that the process to prepare the Plan of Conservation and Development include a series of public meetings/workshops to define the proposed policies and recommendations/strategies to be contained in the POCD.
Attached to this document is a tentative schedule for public workshops/special meetings, which denote the specific components of the draft plan to be addressed.
At the discretion of the Planning & Zoning Commission, workshop content can be adjusted if it is determined that multiple topics can be reviewed at the same meeting. This could potentially compress the schedule, which would facilitate moving towards a first draft in a more expedient manner.
General Examples of Policies & Strategies – The “Strategic Element” of a POCD
General Policy; The City of New London is a coastal community, that values the coastal resources of Long Island Sound, the Thames River and our Harbor. We acknowledge the responsibility and obligation we have to protect these natural resources, as well as ensuring that waterfront lands are available for water dependent uses.
Specific Policy; Protect Coastal Resources
Continue to implement state, federal and local programs for coastal management.
Continue to take actions to improve coastal water quality.
Continue to evaluate the long-term implications of sea-level rise.
Continue to evaluate and implement programs relative to improving coastal resiliency.
General Policy; The City of New London believes that a robust, modern, multi-modal transportation system contributes to a strong economy and provides opportunities for growth.
Specific Policy; Enhance Transit Services
Support and expand SEAT and other private bus service.
Support efforts to improve transportation related signage and technological tools to enhance public and private transportation services.
Support para-transit services.
Support additional water-based transportation options.
Support freight and passenger rail improvements.
Support regional efforts to create an inter-connected bike trail system.
Support and expand the principles of “Complete Streets”.
Establish Priorities, Define Tasks, Responsibility/Leadership Roles, Partners and Tentative Timelines; the “Implementation Element” of a POCD
Policy; Protect Coastal Resources
Strategy; Continue to implement, state, federal and local programs for coastal management.
Task; Amend zoning regulations to promote and preserve waterfront areas for water dependent uses.
Leader; Planning & Zoning Commission
Partners; Port Authority, ODP, RCDA
Target Date; Ongoing
Policy; Enhance Transit Services
Strategy; Support freight and passenger rail improvements
Task; Partner with freight and passenger rail providers, in efforts to access federal and state funding targeted for infrastructure improvements.
Partners; Mayor, City Council, Planning & Zoning Commission, Port Authority, CCD, Main Street, ODP, RCDA
Target Date; Ongoing
Listing files in 'Plan of Conservation & Development'