Representatives from all of Wilton’s major town boards and commissions met last night for the first time to begin the Plan of Conservation and Development (POCD) process. The meeting was in advance of the first public launch meeting  scheduled for February 8.

The 20 or so town officials gathered at Comstock under the purview of the Planning & Zoning Commission, which will head up the project. P&Z chairman Scott Lawrence introduced the meeting by telling all those assembled that their collaboration in putting the POCD together was a “great opportunity for the town, and a chance to share ideas and collaborate and do some great things–it’s an exciting time.”

Working with consultants Milone and MacBroom, Lawrence outlined the purpose of having monthly working group meetings with the representatives of all the boards.

“We just want to make sure there’s a pathway of communication from us to you, from the consultants to you, for the joint work groups, and also to leverage human capital. The collective amount of experience in this room is outstanding. We have chairs, representing different commissions, people who have lived in town for decades, people who have just come here. We are professionals in the private sector, the public sector, accountants, architects, engineers–if you think about the collective human capital at our disposal just at this table, and then you add the public, there’s a lot to talk about, a lot to leverage, a lot of good experience to tap into,” Lawrence said.

Outlining the schedule, the working group will meet one time per month between now and summer, to start, to do focus group exercises, joint workshops, and meetings with the public. The group set the third Thursday of every month as the time for those meetings, and Lawrence said they will include substantive presentations, online survey results, discussions of either a topic (e.g. wetlands) or a strategic issue (e.g. Rt. 7, Wilton Center, housing, etc.)–cross board issues warranting cross board discussions.

With P&Z ultimately responsible for the meetings and the POCD that gets adopted, that commission will have meetings twice a month, “One meeting will probably have public comment, to keep track of issues, but primarily for us to work on what’s next,” Lawrence said.

Through it all, an emphasis will be on the “constant chain of conversation,” either between the boards, with each representative encouraged to give a voice to his/her own board, but also keeping the public engaged in the process, something that Lawrence stressed is a priority. He reinforced a need for transparency, reminding the group about FOIA laws and stressing that communication and substantive discussions needed to take place through public channels.

Along those lines, Lawrence informed the group that public outreach was crucial, starting with a dedicated POCD website that has been created as well as a POCD Facebook page. The website will be the repository for all data and info, presentations, agenda, survey results, survey exercises–and possibly even the location for live streaming of meetings, something that is being worked on.

Public Launch Thursday, Feb. 8

The public launch meeting was scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8, in the Wilton High School cafeteria at 7 p.m.. Lawrence stressed the importance of letting as many members of the Wilton public know as possible to get significant participation from the start. “It needs to be shouted from the rooftops. The more people that show up, the more representative it’s going to be, the more diverse viewpoints we’ll see.”