SPECIAL REPORT: The 411 on Getting Involved in the POCD Process, Now
Wilton has begun the Plan of Conservation and Development process–it’s one of the most important processes and events to the town.
A Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) provides policy guidance for the physical, economic and social future of the community. It’s a document–think of it like a roadmap–that establishes a long-term vision and guides short-term decision making.
The process works best when the public is VERY engaged so that it captures the vision of the whole community. The POCD is meant to identify goals and objectives to make that vision a reality, but it’s critical for the public to be part of that so that the POCD accurately represents what the public wants.
The POCD isn’t law or regulation however–it’s just a set of recommended actions to help the community achieve its goals.
It’s also a process that all towns are required to amend or adopt every 10 years. Wilton’s current POCD will expire on Jan. 1, 2020.
What’s Legally Required
The CT General Statutes spells out the POCD process. The town is required to collect and analyze data. The topics that are focused on include housing, economic development, demographics, land use, open space, transportation, sustainability, community, facilities and services, and recreation.
The POCD has to put together an action agenda, stating policy goals and standards for physical and economic development in the municipality. The POCD also must include a future land use plan, (see the 2010 POCD one, left). It illustrates how the community wants land use in the future–conservation, development, sewer service expansion and sewer service avoidance areas.
Of course, the POCD has to be consistent with state and regional plans. Wilton’s POCD has to assess that and make sure it is so.
So, Who’s In Charge of the POCD Update?
Wilton’s Planning & Zoning Commission (P&Z) is ultimately responsible for decision making related to the POCD update. But the only way the POCD gets updated and implemented successfully is with input from everyone–other town boards, community groups and, most importantly, the public.
There’s a Joint Working Group made up of representatives from other town boards that meets regularly. There are public workshops and meetings that they conduct. The members who are part of the Joint Working Group are from the Bd. of Selectmen, Bd. of Finance, Parks & Recreation Commission, Bd. of Education, Economic Development Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Inland Wetlands Commission, Conservation Commission, Historic District and Historic Property Commission, Energy Commission, Water Pollution Control Authority and Water Commission.
Of course, this couldn’t happen without the assistance of Milone and MacBroom, the town planning consultant hired by the town to manage the process.
What’s the Timeline
Right now, Wilton is in the “Information Gathering and Analysis Phase.” It’s a lot of data download and discussion–but there is ample opportunity for the public to be involved. (Links and Dates are available at the end of this article).
- Attend the public meetings and workshops
- Complete online surveys
- Visit the POCD website, Wilton2029.com
- Take part in Focus Groups
Here’s a great graphic produced by P&Z that shows the timeline:
Info Gathering: Data, Data and More Data!
This process requires a great deal of data gathering, so that the next POCD accurately reflected Wilton. It’s critical to examine how Wilton has changed over the last decade since the last POCD, and identify trends that will shape Wilton over the next 10 years.
The town approaches data updating from a variety of different angles. Town staff, boards and commissions and other relevant community groups will be engaged throughout the data update process to ensure the validity of data and fill in any missing information. Among the areas of interest: demographics, housing, economy, parks & recreation, transportation, community facilities, land use, development patterns and open space.
Monthly Focus Groups
Between February and June, monthly public workshops will be held at the Working Group meetings; each one is intended to dive deeper into key community concerns. Malone & MacBroom will invite relevant community organizations with particular knowledge and involvement in whatever topic is being considered. These focus groups will help in gathering data as well as identifying other appropriate targets in the community to seek out for more public input.
Members of the public are invited and welcome to attend and participate in the focus groups. They are scheduled as follows:
- Thursday, February 22, 7-9 p.m., Trackside Teen Center (15 Station Rd.): Housing
- Thursday, March 15, 7-9 p.m., Wilton Library Brubeck Room (137 Old Ridgefield Rd.): Route 7 and Transportation
- Thursday, April 19, 7-9 p.m., Trackside Teen Center (15 Station Rd.): Community Facilities and Infrastructure
- Thursday, May 17, 7-9 p.m., Trackside Teen Center (15 Station Rd.): Wilton Center and Villages
- Thursday, June 21, 7-9 p.m., Trackside Teen Center (15 Station Rd.): Conservation, Preservation and Sustainability
This should be one of the easiest ways for members of the Wilton public to participate. POCD organizers will release a series of mini, online community surveys between now and June, the info-gathering and analysis phase.
They’re short! They should only take 5-10 minutes to complete and focus on specific, limited areas. But they will only be open for a short window as well (2-3 weeks apiece). Results will be posted on the POCD Wilton 2029 website and reviewed briefly at Working Group meetings.
Residents can sign-up to be notified each time a new survey is posted, and everyone is encouraged to share survey links among community groups, friends and contacts.
The first survey just closed today–it covered the community’s vision for its future. Visit the POCD website to sign up to receive notices when the next surveys go live.
In the fall there will be a telephone survey conducted by the Center for Research and Public Policy, to garner feedback on a limited number of specific policy recommendations and potential action items.
How You Can Stay Informed
The Wilton 2029 POCD website will have links to all POCD materials, including presentations, meeting schedules, workshops and surveys. Comments can be submitted via the website or via email. Project announcements and events will be posted to both the website and Facebook page.
Upcoming Meetings–Complete List
February 22–Working Group Meeting on Housing, 7-9 p.m., Trackside
February 26–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
March 12–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m.,Town Hall Annex
March 15–Working Group Meeting on Route 7 & Transportation, 7-9 p.m., Wilton Library Brubeck Room
March 26–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
April 9–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
April 19–Working Group Meeting on Community Facilities & Infrastructure, 7-9 p.m., Trackside
April 23–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
May 14–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
May 17–Working Group Meeting on Wilton Center & Villages, 7-9 p.m., Trackside
May 29–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
June 11–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
June 21–Working Group Meeting on Conservation, Preservation & Sustainability, 7-9 p.m., Trackside
June 25–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
July 9–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex
July 23–Planning & Zoning Commission POCD Special Meeting, 6:30-7:15 p.m., Town Hall Annex