CT Construction Digest July 28, 2021
TORRINGTON — City officials said this week that road construction activities are expanding into Phase 2 of the “City North Reconstruction” project. Phase 2 includes work in the following North End neighborhoods: Margerie Street; Benham Street from Margerie to Calhoun Street; Lorenzo Street from Margerie to Calhoun Street; Eastwood Road from Margerie to Alice Street; Alice Street; and Lois Street, sidewalk only.
The proposed improvements will include new asphalt paving, concrete curbing, asphalt sidewalks, driveway aprons, catch basins, tops, and associated work, according to city officials.
The public is to expect daily traffic delays due to one-way alternating traffic and daily road closures allowing local traffic only. Pass through traffic is advised to avoid these roads and use alternate routes.
Residents and guests of these neighborhoods are advised not to park any vehicles on these roads during construction. Vehicles in the way of construction will be towed at the owner’s expense.
For more information, contact the City of Torrington Engineering Department at 860-489-2234 or visit the Engineering Department website link for 2021 Road Construction Projects at torringtonct.org
The project includes Alice Street, Benham Street, Brightwood Avenue, Calhoun Street, Dawes Avenue (Sidewalk only), Eastwood Road, Lois Street (Sidewalk only), Lorenzo Street, Margerie Street, Northridge Avenue (Sidewalk Only), Pythian Avenue.
STAMFORD — Some residents thought of it as a de facto park. Others, an empty lot.
But decades ago, the Downtown Special Services District and other city officials tagged the vacant parcel at Greyrock Place and Broad Street as a chance to flesh out the budding downtown.
As of Monday night, a developer will have the final say.
The Stamford Zoning Board unanimously authorized an eight-story, 228-unit apartment building with ground-flood amenity space nestled between the Broad Street parking garage and Greyrock Place. On top of the residences, luxury developer RMS Companies will move its offices into the building. Some 19 of the apartments will go for below market rate.
The decision was made after public input, including complaints that development on the site would be bad for the neighborhood.
Nearby residents, especially some from adjacent condominium building The Classic, had argued vehemently against losing trees that line the fenced-off site and against adding traffic to one of the busiest roads in Stamford. At least one member of the public floated turning the site into a public park, which could only happen if the city owned the land.
But business-minded leaders, like the DSSD and the Chamber of Commerce, touted the development as a win for walkability in Downtown.
Though an apartment building is the end goal for the approval, the initial application as approved also involved both a map change to rezone the existing properties and a text change to alter the city’s zoning regulations.
RMS Companies sought to reclassify one of three parcels it owns along Broad. Because of the change, now all of Broad Street from Washington Boulevard to Greyrock Place falls under the General Commercial, or C-G, zone. The board generally favors contiguous zoning along streets and building properties in single zones to encourage aesthetically consistent construction.
The text change added additional design standards to the C-G zone, which Land Use Bureau Chief Ralph Blessing called one of Stamford’s “orphan districts.”
“They exist in the appendix of the zoning regulations, but it isn’t well defined,” he told The Stamford Advocate. The new text change requires developers to set buildings back a certain amount from either the main road or other structures to meet the city’s light and air guidelines.
To compensate for trees lost because of construction, the developer agreed to plant 157 trees both on and off of the property, an effort spearheaded in part by board member Rosanne McManus. RMS must work with Land Use Bureau staff “to maximize the number of trees planted at the development site,” though some of the foliage will also be scattered throughout Downtown Stamford because of limited space, according to the agreement.
At the outset of the approval, McManus expressed optimism about the project and the compromises the board achieved.
“I’m happy that something is going in here,” she said, “and I know that the neighbors have enjoyed the green space for a long time, so I think we have done what we can do to mitigate that.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's latest leap into the Senate's up-and-down efforts to clinch a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure deal comes with even more at stake than his coveted plans for boosting road, rail and other public works projects.
The outcome of the infrastructure bargaining, which for weeks has encountered one snag after another, will impact what could be the crown jewel of his legacy. That would be his hopes for a subsequent $3.5 trillion federal infusion for families’ education and health care costs, a Medicare expansion and efforts to curb climate change.
Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will need support from every Democratic moderate and progressive to push the $3.5 trillion bill through the 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote. If the infrastructure talks implode, it may be harder for moderates — who rank its projects as their top priority — to back the follow-up $3.5 trillion plan, which is already making them wince because of its price tag and likely tax boosts on the wealthy and corporations.
“I would say that if the bipartisan infrastructure bill falls apart, everything falls apart,” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, one of his chamber’s most conservative Democrats, warned reporters this week.
That could well prove an overstatement, since moderates like him will face enormous pressure from Biden, Schumer and others to back the $3.5 trillion package, whatever the bipartisan plan's fate. But it illustrates a balancing act between centrists and progressives that top Democrats must confront.
“If infrastructure collapses, which I hope it does not, you'd have the difficulty of holding some of the Democrats" to back the $3.5 trillion bill, No. 2 House leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Tuesday in a brief interview. Party leaders will be able to lose no more than three Democrats to prevail in the 435-member House.
Both sides in the talks were expressing renewed optimism Tuesday about prospects for a deal, a view they've expressed before without producing results. The uncertainty underscored that Democrats were at a promising yet precarious point for their agenda, with stakes that seem too big for them to fail yet failure still possible.
Biden met at the White House on Tuesday with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a leader of moderate Democrats who've been laboring to strike an infrastructure deal with GOP senators. The president also used several tweets to prod lawmakers, including one saying, “There are no Democratic roads or Republican bridges — infrastructure impacts us all and I believe we’ve got to come together to find solutions."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden and Sinema “are very much aligned on the path forward" and expressed optimism, but also said the president was “not setting new deadlines” for a deal. Several target dates for reaching an agreement have come and gone, though Schumer wants a Senate vote on a package before sending lawmakers home for an August recess.
Sinema is a centrist who's alienated some Democrats who consider her unpredictable.
Illustrating that, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., told House Democrats privately Tuesday that the infrastructure accord senators are trying to complete is “crap," according to two people who attended the session and described it on condition of anonymity. He also said the measure was being crafted by “three Republicans,” pointedly naming Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sinema, they said.
Moderate Democrats have long made an infrastructure deal their top priority. The bipartisanship such an accord would display plus the meat-and-potatoes spending it would bring back home have made that their goal over the separate $3.5 trillion measure for family and environmental programs.
If the infrastructure talks fail, it would deprive moderates of a victory that if reached might leave them more open to making concessions on the $3.5 trillion measure. A collapse could also trigger fresh internal Democratic fighting over how much of the infrastructure spending would be transferred to the huge domestic spending plan, and how that would affect its overall price tag.
Even Republicans are divided over the infrastructure measure and what a failure of the bipartisan talks would mean as both parties eye 2022 elections in which House and Senate control are fully in play.
Some Republicans worry that approval of a bipartisan infrastructure plan would help Democrats pass their $3.5 trillion measure by making moderate Democrats more prone to cooperate with their colleagues on that subsequent, costlier legislation.
They also say supporting the infrastructure measure would let Democrats rope the GOP into sharing the blame if inflation or other economic problems take hold amid massive federal spending programs.
But others say that since Republicans won't be able to stop Democrats from passing their $3.5 trillion bill, the GOP might as well back an infrastructure agreement. That would let Republicans haul a share of its $1 trillion in popular projects back to their home states.
Democrats plan to use special budget rules that would prevent Republicans from using a filibuster — a delay that takes 60 Senate votes to halt — to derail the $3.5 trillion measure.
These Republicans also say passage of the infrastructure measure would make it harder for Manchin and Sinema — and moderate Democrats facing reelection in swing states, like New Hampshire's Maggie Hassan and Arizona's Mark Kelly — to vote for an even larger $3.5 trillion plan.
“I think it puts their members more on the defensive and having to defend very, in my view, indefensible spending and taxing,” said No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota.
WINSTED — What’s a POCD, and why should anyone care about it?
Planning and Zoning Commission members are trying to figure that out, ahead of a public hearing to approve the updated document. The Plan of Conservation and Development is updated every 10 years, and is used by towns and cities to monitor growth, update and amend zoning regulations, find funding for improvement projects, and provide an overall snapshot of the municipality and its assets. It inventories the town, reviews its regulations and makes changes as needed.
Not everyone may know what it does or how it helps their home town unless they are directly affected by it — such as a need to change zoning on their property or business. The Planning and Zoning Commission recently finished making some changes to it, and have scheduled an Aug. 23 public hearing to discuss it with residents.
In Winsted’s POCD, the commission set goals for itself, which are part of the update process, including promoting Smart Growth principles, maintaining long-term financial viability, providing a range of housing, and supporting open space preservation, protecting state assets and encouraging residents to further those goals in their own land management practices.
In developing the 2011 POCD, the commission took a natural resources inventory in 2009, and conducted a corridor study, a watershed protection study and a traffic study. PZC Chairman George Closson said the commission has spent many months reviewing each area of the plan during the last year, to determine if changes were needed.
“It’s pretty close to what we did a little more than 10 years ago, but there have been some changes,” said Closson. “The Board of Selectmen has all the information and the draft ... Mayor Candy Perez is sending it for discussion at the board’s next meeting in August.”
Selectmen likely will be asked to approve the draft in advance of the public hearing. That approval is advisory, Closson said. Changes to some zoning regulations are included in the latest iteration.
Closson recently asked the commission for input on what type of presentation they wanted to give to the public at that hearing.
“It’s up to the commission to get people energized about it,” he said. “The POCD is something we all ought to be thinking about; I think we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time on it. It’s a pretty solid document, and we need to get the word out. That’s the most important thing.”
Closson pointed out that funding for road repairs, renovating old buildings into usable office or retail spaces in Winsted’s old mill buildings, upgrades for safety and traffic and upgrading roadways, often supported by grants or other state or federal funding, are a result of the POCD. “It helps us get grants — it helps the town,” he said. “We can look at how we compare with other towns and what they’re doing.
“We’ve got a small city, and we’ve taken advantage of supporting it with this document,” the chairman said.
To prepare their presentation for Aug. 23, Closson and several other commission members walked Main Street Tuesday morning and photographed buildings and streets downtown.
The commission also is attending the Northwest Hills Council of Governments’ Fifth Thursday event, which gives members of boards and commissions a forum to discuss changes in land use, zoning and state regulations. This week the Fifth Thursday forums are likely to include a discussion on land use regulations involving the state, and the recently-passed law that makes marijuana legal in Connecticut. “All of those things come together in importance, in this planning document,” Closson said.
Even so, he admitted, “it’s pretty dry stuff.”
“We’re trying to make it interesting, to show how we use it and why we spend so much time on it,” he said.
Residents can find the updated POCD online at www.townofwinchester.org.